v 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.
Sex sells stuff say the advertisers; and our highly sexualised society inevitably responds. Heads turn and fantasies flourish when flesh is flaunted. You will not need reminding that things have not changed very much since King David noted Bathsheba bathing in her garden – physical beauty (however you define it) can still be demandingly attractive!
Not surprisingly, Paul sets a different standard for attraction; it is really an
issue of quality of life. Now try telling that to a pumped-up teenager and you will probably get a very strange look! Try to raise questions of kindness and thoughtfulness, or ability to persevere in a challenging job, or willingness to do the dirty jobs around a home, or demonstrate care for an elderly relative, or – well, you get the message. Yet we all go on spending huge sums of money to beautify ourselves and our outward appearance; clothes, perfumes, make-up, body-building equipment, jeans and trainers with the right logo, etc. (I’m not into creating lists really, forgive me)
But Paul really is on to something here. Each of us has a tendency to over-value the outward appearance of things and people. That doesn’t mean that we should dress shabby for the sake of it, but rather that we straighten out our value systems and learn to appreciate what has long term, significant value. We should not be just valuing people because they dress well, or are especially clever. James got the message spot-on when wrote ‘For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewellery, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2)
And, by the way, this all applies to women and men!