What if the boy is not too cute?

We’ve covered some good moral, ethical and spiritual ground in figuring out the “qualifications” of a young suitor. These are by far the most pressing issues especially in light of the culture where cranking out solid young men is not too highly esteemed (just read “Guyland” by Michael Kimmel.  Yikes.).  We must give ourselves to these things.

But we also “sort” ourselves in other ways that aren’t too savory and mostly secret like looks.  Not you?  So, there’s never been a time in your life when you turned down an offer on the basis of looks?  “Posh!  That was college when I was young and stuck-up!” OK, fine.  Why did you do it then?  And, you’re positive you wouldn’t do it vicariously through your daughter or son?  Hmm.

It is not as if “ugly” is a fictitious category.  The Fall has caused physical disfigurement: hair cowlicks, acne, big noses, spots, missing limbs, compressed spines, crooked fingers or toes.  Do these amount to “ugly”?  Answer that by asking if these things will be present in heaven?  But, more importantly, the Fall has caused a natural propensity towards ungodly sorting and categorization.  We secretly expect the pretty people to marry each other and hope the ugly ones marry each other without transgressing this boundary.  It’s terrible and it’s true (even Jane Austen thought so).

In the end, we’re not the ones who choose for our daughters and sons.  The issue is will our sons and daughters sort their suitors on the basis of looks and should they?  You and I did: what will keep them from not doing it?  This discussion borders the preposterous.  We just don’t think that poorly of ourselves that WE would be the ones to advise our children against marrying for things other than looks.  Assume for a minute that you might…

First, ugly is a part of life.  Try as we might to rationalize that ugly actually isn’t, it will still hold to be true.  Perhaps, ugly will always be with us so that we will remember that there’s a time coming when it will be no more.  In one sense, without “ugly” we’d forget about heaven.

Second, God doesn’t really care about ugly so we shouldn’t either.  Here’s a short sample:

6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” 7But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16)

1My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,”while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  6But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?  (James 2)

1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  (1 Peter 3)

Third, ugly saves and so we really can’t always judge that “ugly = bad.”  No one would say that the Cross upon which Christ died was anything but ugly.  I suppose it would be functionally equivalent to us calling a firing squad or an electric chair something other than ugly.  Yet, the work of Christ upon that Cross when united in us with faith saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).  That is hardly ugly.

Fourth, our children will naturally sort against ugly.  You did it.  The Bible warns against it.  They will do it.  Unless you teach them not to.  Of course, that would assume that you have modified your own views that sorting on the basis of looks isn’t appropriate.  If we work to inoculate our children against the fear of “ugly” in this way, then, in life when cancer or accident strikes, love will not find any obstacles to expression.

Would you really have “pretty” instead of “godly” if it came to it?

The boy is…thankful

Thanksgiving!  Thank God!  It is a simple blessing of God that He would ensure a season of giving thanks remains in our otherwise spiritually-neutered and exhausting annual calendars.  Although the calendar around this time is really busy in my circles, its advent is a blessing.  So much of the year seems like we hold onto this life-raft only with great exertion.  Thanksgiving and Christmas intrude into this bleakness with respites and opportunities to think about other things (mostly).

I wonder if the boys are paying attention?  Boys are not normally thankful.  I know that mom’s and dad’s want to protest that their little charmer is the ONE who is thankful.  I hope it continues.

It won’t.  It won’t last because the boy lives with his parents.  His parents’ lifestyle of consumption will be written on his heart with an iron stylus.  We, parents, consume the resources of life almost without a second thought.  We do, and our children do (dance lessons, Scouts, youth groups, Spanish club, soccer team, choir…).  A kid who lives in a home where mom and dad are treating life as if they own its rights will translate that value to little J.  He will grow up to be a young man who sees life as his storehouse of resources to consume.  I will warn my daughters (and watch my son).

Consumption isn’t our only issue.  Expectations are a close second (if that).  Sure, some parents may pray before meals (which is good), but then live in expectation at every other time.  We expect to be given things, respect, raises, accolades, gifts and vacations.  (This whole financially ruinous season seems to scream lessons at us at this very level.)  What does expectation breed?  If someone asked you to choose an adjective that best describes our culture and you could only choose from “discontent” and “thankful,” which would you choose?

Foolish optimists might choose the latter.  Those who know what they look like in a mirror would choose the former.  I’ve seen discontent as a lifestyle; to some degree I have lived such a life.  We traffic in the sea of discontent riding in the ferry of expectation.  “I was made for so much more….” “I’m bored….” “I wish this tasted better….” “When will it stop raining?….”  We expect to be handed the world on a platter so discontent is easy.  Will that boy look at his aging wife  (my daughter) and be content when she’s beautiful in other-than-physical ways?  Will he live with this “I deserve a sexy and alluring wife” and be like so many I’ve seen who bolt for the door?

  • Will the boy whose families were committed to unbridled consumption learn to be a giver?
  • Will the boy whose parents acted like life owed them learn to serve?

He had better if he wants marry my daughter.

How?  Thanksgiving.  The pathway from the drowning waterfall of consumption is thanksgiving.  He realizes that foremost what he was owed (judgment) is spared by God’s mercy in Jesus Christ.  Then, he learns to look around at all that he has been given and say, “thank you.”  He grows to understand that a life consuming at every turn makes you fat in every way.  But he also recognizes that discontent is creepy and crafty and that it rides along quietly in his heart.  He gets used to asking himself why he gets angry when he doesn’t get what he wants.  He starts to see the people and places and things God gives to him are opportunities for him to invest and serve and build up.

Thanksgiving is a start.  So, mom and dad, get that boy started.