I received a question on our Facebook Page a few days ago dealing with appearance and who should get to choose how you look, you or your spouse? Here’s the question:
If you loved your wife’s looks exactly how she is, how would you feel if she changed that look because she wants a change?
Example: my husband loves my curves and long long hair. I mean loves them. While I am in shape I.would like to tone my tummy (4 kids, after all) so jeans fit more comfortably and I’d like a shorter (mid back rather than waist length) more up to date hair style. He won’t forbid me to change these things, but he has asked me not to.
Now, I know some of you are expecting me to pull out the patriarchy card, but I’m going to go another way on this one. So, let me pull a couple Bible verses and then I’ll let you know what I think.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. – 1 Corinthians 7:4
What do these tell us?
Firstly, that our body belongs to God. (There are many more verses than just the one, but they would just be repetitive I think.)
Secondly, our bodies belong to our spouse.
What does the Bible say? What does God want?
How do we implement this in the above questions? When deciding what to do with our bodies, we should first ask “Is this acceptable to God?” While there are verses about how hair should be styled in the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:6, 14-15, 1 Peter 3:3, Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Timothy 2:9) I don’t think they quite apply here, regardless of your beliefs. After all, she’s not shaving her head, this wife is asking about taking a foot of of a few feet of hair. Likewise with her “shape”. She says she’s in shape, so this is more about toning, something that Bible is silent on, I believe (correct me if I am wrong, please).
So, these aren’t issues of morality, God’s laws, wishes, etc..
What does my spouse want?
Now, this seems clear, because her spouse has clearly stated what he wants. However, Christina, my wife, brings up an excellent point: Is he aware of what he’s asking. After all, a fresh haircut and a toned body could increase his wife’s self-confidence, which could ultimately increase sexual self-confidence, and thus sex-drive and sexual enthusiasm. No guarantee, of course, but that would be a pretty good trade for most husbands. Sometimes we don’t know what we want. Now, I’m not saying go and do it and see what he says. I’m saying, it might be wise to have a discussion about what it means to you. If my wife came and said “I want to get a haircut, because I think it will make me feel sexy”, I’d probably risk it.
Why do I want these things?
Finally, I think we need to ask ourselves why we are doing these things. Why make these changes. The stated reasons are:
- To have a more up-to-date hair style.
- So jeans can fit more comfortably.
Now, the second one is simple, it’s a comfort issue. But, what about the first? Why an up-to-date hair style? What’s the reason?
This is where implementing theology into the Christian life gets difficult. After all, our self confidence should come from simply being children of God, not from our appearance, hair style, clothes, etc.. This wife can’t argue she’s doing it for her husband…because he has stated he doesn’t want it. So, and I hesitate to say this, because it sounds bad, but she asked: The most logical answer is she is doing it to look good … but not for her husband. I’m not saying she’s trying to attract someone else, our society pushes us to remain attractive, and has this standard of what that should mean. It’s so impressed on us, it’s hard to escape. This is years of conditioning, since she was a little girl. We all have this conditioning.
The problem is that society’s ways should not necessarily be our ways. If we’re married, we shouldn’t be trying to look attractive to anyone but our spouses. So, again, if I was in this position, I think I’d have to ask myself: who am I trying to look attractive for? Most likely it’s to this vague concept of what our society expects, this idea that we need to “look good”.
Now, I’m not saying that if your spouse likes you to be 500 lbs, then that’s what you should do, after all, that’s unhealthy, and we’d have to flip back to taking care of the temple of God.
Here’s an example from my life:
I never wore jeans growing up. Not since grade school, I think. I found them uncomfortable and ugly, at least on me. I think part of it was that I wanted to be different, and everyone wore jeans. So, I have never bought jeans. One day someone gave me a pair. They sat in my closet for…oh, years. Never worn. Then one day I was doing some construction in my house. I didn’t want to rip my khaki’s, so I pulled out these jeans and put them on. When Christina saw me, I think she nearly fell out of her chair. After all, she’s never seen me in jeans, and we’ve been together since high school. An hour later, she said “I think I really like you in jeans…” So, I started wearing them more, to try to get used to them. I bought a few pairs. Now, I wear them all the time. They still feel weird, but, she likes it, and it’s not like it’s hurting me.
So, that’s my story of how this worked out. As it happens, I also keep my facial hair the way she likes it. It doesn’t take that much work, and she prefers it. That said…
What I would say to the husband
My wife has never asked me to wear jeans. She never asked me not to change my facial hair. She’s just made it known what she prefers. It’s my choice to go along with it, or not. Likewise, I let her know what my tastes are on her hair, clothing, etc.. If she doesn’t do them, I’m not disappointed. I don’t think she’s less attractive. Its only a preference. Not the end of the world. After all, clothes can change, hair can grow back. That said…I hope she never cuts her hair short.
What would you say to this wife? How does this play our in your marriage?