“Cliff, do you realise all the girls that you used to pursue have one thing in common? They all have long hair. I have long hair.”
This was Wai Jia’s response after seeing the pictures of the girls I used to like before I met her. It was also when I realised I like girls with long hair.
When I was pursuing a relationship, I was of the camp that declared the spiritual to be way more important than the physical.
I still remember when I first told my friends about Wai Jia. All the things I would focus on were spiritual: she loves Jesus; she loves missions; she helps the poor…
But I never told them I liked her because she is pretty or that I love her long hair. I didn’t say anything about these physical features. Maybe I was afraid of what my friends would think of me.
Is it wrong to pursue a girl because you find her beautiful?
Is physical attractiveness important when it comes to relationships? I will say yes, though I have a disclaimer.
When it comes to physical attraction, the first question we need to ask ourselves is: How important is it in our list?
Many of us might say, “No, it’s not important. I’m not superficial.” Or we might say we don’t care about looks.
But the truth is, we all care about looks. How do I know?
Next time after you take a we-fie with your friends, look at the picture and see who the person you look at first. It will most likely be yourself.
Looks are important to us, not just for who we are pursuing but for ourselves.
We are all fascinated by how we look and, at times, how we look in front of others. Of course, we need to be presentable. But are we doing more than that?
The problem is that there is no scale to tell you when you have become more concerned with physical attraction than you should.
If we are not careful, it becomes the main thing we prize in a person — and physical beauty does not last.
The world is the other factor that defines many people’s perceptions of physical attraction or beauty.
If you are into K-Pop or K-Dramas, for instance, how the actress or singer looks is what many often think about first. And that comes to define how you see beauty or physical attraction.
The problem with following the world’s standard of physical beauty is that much of it isn’t real.
Social media doesn’t help: people are dolled up with make-up, shots are made with different angles and lighting to highlight features… and then there’s Photoshop.
So here’s my next question, what is true beauty? How does God define beauty?
As the Creator of the Universe, I believe God designs things to be beautiful.
How do I know? Just go outside and look up in the sky. Have you ever been in awe at the sunrise or stunned by the glowing red sunset?
Beauty is all around us because our God creates things beautifully.
David put it like this: “the heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
In essence, beauty is a good thing. God appreciates beauty — but the real beauty is often unseen.
Remember when God sent Samuel to select King Saul’s successor because Saul had disobeyed God?
Samuel looked at David’s brother, Eliab, and thought he was the next king (1 Samuel 16:6).
But what did God say? He said, “do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Did God reject Eliab because he was ugly? Nope. But God had seen Eliab’s heart.
What counts more is what’s on the inside
This leads to my next point. Our hearts are way more important than how we look on the outside (side note: David wasn’t ugly either — he was good-looking!).
Physical beauty is of far less concern to God than spirituality and discretion. Just read Proverbs 11:22, which in my view applies to both men and women.
The old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” rings true when it comes to following Jesus and finding our partner.
The inside is way more important. We all know that in our heads.
But back to our hearts: What are you really looking for?
When Wai Jia and I corresponded over emails before we got together, I used to look at the photos of her that she sent me before I went to bed every night. Why? Because I find Wai Jia beautiful.
But what makes her more stunning or sexy is her love for missions and helping the poor. Why is that so attractive to me? Because I am seeking the same thing.
Godliness is a multiplier of physical attraction. Yes, Wai Jia is beautiful. But when I learned that she had sacrificed a road bike and used the money to help bring a Nepalese girl, whom she didn’t know, to Singapore to operate on her ear so she could hear, my heart skipped many beats!
I told myself this was the girl I wanted to marry. I was in Canada. She was in Singapore. I didn’t know how we were going to get together. It might well be a billion-to-one chance, but man — I was going to go after her!
Godliness is a multiplier of physical attraction.
Beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder. If you aren’t seeking godliness or the things of God, none of these spiritual qualities will matter to you. You will probably not find these things attractive. What you seek and desire is what you will consider beautiful.
Jesus once said that the eye is the body’s lamp (Matthew 6:22). If the eye is not healthy, it means that your body is full of darkness. I understand that Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God, but I believe there’s a principle there which applies to physical beauty.
This is why pornography is so destructive; actors and actresses in pornography films fake arousal and take drugs to numb the pain.
If you’re not careful, what you see with your eyes messes up how you determine beauty and ultimately blinds your soul from seeing what true beauty is according to God.
Are there potential partners in your church or cell group that you are not considering, because they may not have a certain look or physical feature you are eyeing?
Are there wonderful women of God who you don’t find them attractive not because they are not beautiful, but because the world’s standard of beauty has distorted your lens?
True beauty glorifies God.
David’s one desire was to dwell in the temple of God all his life (Psalm 27:4). Why? So he could gaze on the beauty of God.
A beautiful sunset or majestic lion glorifies its Creator, not itself. This may sound strange, but in a similar way, when I look at Wai Jia — if my perspective is healthy — her beauty should lead me to glorify God.
Counterfeit beauty, like porn, brings only self-pleasure (or lust). Counterfeit beauty emphasises itself rather than the Creator.
Peter wrote: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Why was Peter concerned about hair arrangement, gold and fine clothing? It is because, arrayed like that, those things didn’t glorify God. Instead, they brought glory to the person wearing them.
The lesson here is that we should not present ourselves in such a way that people admire us. We should present ourselves in a way that brings glory to God, and one way to do that is to have a gentle and quiet spirit.
All in all, it is not wrong to like someone because you are attracted to them physically.
But lasting attraction comes from the godliness that grows in a person.
That is the reason why I love Wai Jia: because she has the same passion for Jesus and missions, like me.
The Bible repeatedly warns us about the danger of focusing on the wrong thing. What we focus on reflects our hearts.
So I have a simple question I ask myself to keep the right focus: How much time and effort am I spending on my image (in real life and online) as opposed to investing in my spiritual life?
Let’s make sure our eyes are focused on true beauty.
- How much time and effort do you spend on your image (real life and online) as opposed to investing in your spiritual life?
- Are there potential partners you have failed to consider because the world’s standard of beauty has distorted your lens?
- In practical terms, how has this article challenged you to live a life that is more closely aligned to God’s will?