Selasa, 26 November 2013

(Re-post) Her Body, Her Self, and Her God

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune   (October 23,  p. A18)  carried Mary McCarty’ s  review of   Joan Brumberg’s  recent  book,  The Body Project .  The book is about  the difference between how girls saw  themselves 100  years ago and how  they  see  themselves  today.  Brumberg analyzes diaries of adolescent  girls  from  the 1830’ s  to  the 1990’ s.  Her  conclusion,  according  to  the  reviewer:   “In the 19th and early 20th  centuries,  girls’  diaries  focused on ‘ good works’  and perfecting  the character.   In  the 1990’ s,   the diaries are  fixated on  ‘ good  looks, ’  on perfecting  the body. ”

For example, one diary from 1892  says,   “Resolved…to  think before  speaking.  To work seriously. To be self-restrained  in  conversations and act ions.  To be dignified.   Interesting myself more in others. ” Contrast   this with an entry  from 1982:   “I  will   try  to make myself  better  in any way  I possibly  can with  the help of  my budget  and babysitting money.   I  will  lose weight ,  get  new lenses,  already got  new haircut ,  good makeup,  new  clothes and accessories. ”

From a biblical standpoint ,  what   is  remarkable about   this  shift   from 1892  to 1982  is  that   it parallel s exactly  the  shift  described  in  the Bible away  from what  God wills  for women.  Consider the shift  of focus  from  “good works”  to  “good  looks. ”

Likewise,   I  want  women  to adorn  themselves with proper  clothing,  modestly and discreetly,  not  with braided hair and gold or pearl s or  costly garments,  but  rather by means of  good works , as is proper  for women making a  claim  to godliness.   (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Your adornment  must  not  be merely external —braiding  the hair,  and wearing gold jewelry,  or putting on dresses;  but   let   it  be  the hidden person of   the heart ,  with  the imperishable quality of  a gentle and quiet   spirit ,  which  is precious  in  the  sight  of  God…you have become  [Sarah’ s]   children  if   you do what   is  right  without  being  frightened by any  fear.   (1 Peter 3:3-4, 6)

Brumberg’s  diagnosis of   the problem  seems  to miss  the mark.  She writes,   “Today,  many  young girl s worry about   the  contours of   their bodies…because  they believe  the body  is  the ultimate expression of   the  self . ” That may be true.  But   it   is not  helpful ,  because  it  gives  the  impression  that something else besides  the body  is  the ultimate expression of   the  self .   In other words,  Brumberg seems  to assume  that   self   is  the  starting point ,  and expressing  the  self   is what   life  is all  about .

The problem,   then, would be  just   finding out  what   the  “ultimate expression of   the  self ”  is. 
The Bible has a radically different diagnosis of the problem.  It has a radically different starting place.  
The verse I left  out   from 1 Peter 3  says,   “In  former  times  the holy women also,  who hoped in God ,  used  to adorn  themselves,  being  submissive  to  their own husbands”  (verse 5). 
The biblical   staring point in dealing with the fear of looking unacceptable is God.  Does a woman “hope in God, ” or hope  in  the approval  of  men? This is the  key  to  “not  being  frightened by any fear”  (verse 6).  This  is  the  key  to being  free  from bondage  to  the mirror.

The biblical  goal  of  a woman’ s  life  i s not   to  find  the ultimate expression of   the  self   (neither  “body” nor  “character”).  The biblical goal   in life is to express  the all-satisfying greatness and trustworthiness of  God.  Expressing God, not self ,  is what  a godly woman want s  to do.  Excessive preoccupation with  figure and hair and  complexion  is a  sign  that   self ,  not  God,  has moved  to  the center.  With God at   the  center—like  the  “sun, ”  satisfying a woman’ s  longings  for beauty and greatness and  truth and  love—all   the  “planets” of   food and dress and exercise and  cosmetics and posture and  countenance will   stay  in  their proper orbit .

If this happens, the diaries of the next generation will probably go beyond looks and   character, and  speak of   the greatness of  God and  the  triumphs of  hi s grace.  And  they will  more often be written  from Calcutta  than  from  the  comfortable  cabins of  rural  America.

Pastor  John ©2012 Desiring God Foundation.  
By John Pi per.  ©2012
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