Ask Your Preacher
Several days ago, we received a question that broke our hearts. The individual asked for anonymity and to not reveal the details of their situation. We wish to honor this person’s request, but we also believe their plight is faced by many of today’s youth. This individual is so disheartened by their physical appearance and the bullying and ridicule they have received because they aren’t “pretty/handsome” that they are considering ending their own life. With today’s culture of air-brushed models, plastic surgery, and Botox… is it any wonder that body image issues are so common and vicious in today’s youth? With this issue in mind, we are posting our response to this suffering soul in the hope that others who are silently struggling may have a Bible answer to comfort their hearts through the awkward years.
The AYP Team
Dear Hurting One,
Let us begin by saying that each heart has its own sorrow, and we will not pretend to know exactly how you feel – only you and the Lord know the depths of your pain (Pr 14:10). Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the greatness of your bitterness and pain. If we may, we would like to offer you a few verses to consider...
The apostle Paul had a physical infirmity that made him grotesque and despised by many (Gal 4:13-14). Paul prayed and prayed for God to remove this illness (he called it his "thorn in the flesh" - 2 Cor 8:7), and God's answer was 'no' (2 Cor 12:8). God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that Paul would learn to be a better man because of his weakness (2 Cor 12:9). In fact, Paul said that the things that God had for him to do in this life were so great that the thorn in the flesh kept him from becoming arrogant (2 Cor 12:7).
Have you ever considered that your physical appearance is a blessing disguised as a curse – that is what Paul found. Because Paul wasn't “beautiful”, his character had a chance to shine brighter, and his message of salvation had opportunity to reach those who wanted the truth... not just those looking to listen to the next pretty face. Even Jesus is described as being someone of unremarkable appearance (Isa 53:2). Those who heard Jesus loved Him (Jhn 7:46), but His looks never converted a single soul. We say all this to tell you that physical beauty isn't as important as you think – and it isn't important to God. God treasures the inner character and beauty of a godly soul (1 Pet 3:3-4). It is the hidden man that God desires to shine forth.
Nothing we have said removes your suffering, but it may give meaning to it. All of us age, and our bodies decay, but it is our inward man that matters (2 Cor 4:16). Every life is precious, including yours. You are capable of great things if you are willing to have faith that your life is more than your looks. If you end your life because of your physical appearance, the devil will have won and defeated another soul with his deceptive lies. Be different and let your inward man shine forth.
I love my church, but there are things that have been brought to my attention that deal with young men sagging their pants. I feel the issue is important; we do need to be respectful to the women in the church and, most importantly, to God. These young men and I on occasion sag our pants; does that make me any more or less saved than the rest of the congregation? I understand there are guidelines, and I can’t go and do whatever I want, but whether I wear jeans to church or a suit, isn’t Jesus going to love me the same? It seems to me we can get too caught up on the outward appearances and miss God. Is all this judging good for the church as a whole? I think God will accept my baggy jeans and all, what about you, preacher?
Sincerely, How Low Can You Go
Dear How Low Can You Go,
The issue isn’t about dress code - but modesty. It is one thing to dress more casually or formally than others; it is another to show your underwear in public. Men sagging their pants are just as bad as women wearing low cut and revealing clothing. God tells us to dress modestly (1 Tim 2:9). It is shameful for a christian to not be fully clothed (Rev 3:18). It is important that we dress in a way that is honorable in the sight of all men (Rom 12:17). The way we dress is part of our reputation, and therefore we must be careful what message it sends. My kudos to you for caring. Hike up the pants.