My Breasts Are Like Towers

My Breasts Are Like Towers

Rachel Evans certainly knows how to write attention-getting chapter bylines!  My breasts are like towers, she says.  Wait.  What?  That comes out of the Song of Songs, which is probably the most misapplied book in scripture.

This is another blog post in a series reviewing Rachel Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  (Here are the other blogs, if you want to have a look: Three-Thousand-Year-Old Inferiority ComplexGirl Gone MildMartha Stewart TheologyObedience: My Husband, My Master, Bird’s Eye View of Rachel Evans’ Book, and Eshet Chayil.)

Each chapter in the book covers one month of the year.  This chapter is entitled, “February: Beauty,” and Evans’ to-do list for the month includes:

  • Find out what the Bible really says about beauty and sex
  • Interview a couple who practiced “biblical courtship”
  • Give Dan “Sex Anytime” coupon (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

Evans notes the negative message that women in Christian circles often hear, that is, “the importance of keeping a beauty routine so that husbands will not be tempted to ‘look elsewhere.'”  I remember when I used to believe this was true.  In my early twenties, I attended a church small group study on the book, The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace.  I was the only one there under forty.  I was also the only one there under 200 pounds.  The room went silent when I parroted what I had been taught.  I might as well have said, “You have all failed miserably as wives.  Don’t be surprised when your husband finds someone better.”  When I remember that moment, I shudder.  What a terrible thing to say.  What a terrible thing to believe.

There are a lot of reason a woman gains weight – hormones, genes, emotional eating, and let’s not forget that almost every food contains high fructose corn syrup, hormones, and insecticides.  But that’s a blog for another day.

1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “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.”

This and other scriptures have been used and abused and twisted to the male advantage over the centuries.  Evans does some digging in scripture and unearths a few interesting facts:

  • The gospel writers never rated the hotness of Jesus’ female disciples.
  • The majority of verses that include woman and beauty in the same sentence… appear in warnings to young men about the dangers of adultery.
  • …there is nothing in scripture to suggest that a woman is expected to maintain a youthful appearance throughout all phases of life.
  • The Bible consistently describes beauty as fleeting.

BTW, Evans quotes Mark Driscoll quite a bit in this chapter.  Why?  Because he is known for giving sermons on all things sex, as if a pastor should tell what you can and can’t do in your own bedroom.  Again, that’s another blog for another day.

Regarding the Song of Songs, Evans writes,

…it presents us with the longest unmediated female voice in the entire Bible.  Where much of the Old Testament seems to regard female sexuality as something to be regulated and feared, Song of Songs unleashes a vivid and erotic expression of woman’s desire.  In fact, the female perspective so dominates the poem that some scholars believe it may have been written by a woman.

So what does the ancient, uninhibited female voice say?

To sum it up, she says she’s beautiful, and she knows what she wants. (Basically, the lyrics to Beyonce’s next hit.)

With that in mind, I looked up some lyrics for Beyonce’s songs.  I don’t listen to her music much, but the one song I’m familiar with goes, “if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it,” which seems like an empowering attitude to have, if you’re single lady just coming out of a dead-end relationship.  I was a little disappointed to find that most of her lyrics have to do with the whole world revolving around some dude or about shallow, appearance-based worth – bling, cheap sex, etc.  But I did manage to find a glimmer of inspiration here and there:

Yes sir i’m cut from a different cloth / My texture is the best fur, im chinchilla

And they listen to me when I talk cause I ain’t pretending / Took a while, now I understand just where I’m going / Now I’m growing into who I am / Bout time I show it

I want to say I lived each day, until I died / And know that I meant something in, somebody’s life / The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave / That I made a difference, and this world will see

I’ve been rescued by the Savior / Don’t you wanna be in his favor / Yeah / My home / Your home / In His everlasting arms

Listen to the song here in my heart / A melody I’ve started / But I will complete… / I’m more than what you’ve made of me / I followed the voice you think you gave to me / But now I gotta find my own..

I’m a puzzle yes in deed / Ever complex in every way / And all the pieces aren’t even in the box / And yet, you see the picture clear as day.

A simple word, a gesture / Someone to say you’re beautiful / Come find this buried treasure / Rainbows lead to a pot of gold

I recently celebrated my 41st birthday.  Yes, I have more wrinkles.  Yes, I sag.  Yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds.  But beauty, true lasting beauty, isn’t about any of those things.  And it certainly isn’t something one must attain in order to keep her mate from wandering.  It’s amazing to me how people can conjure up the most unholy ideas, using the Bible as a weapon against a woman’s sense of worth.

Today, Tim and I took our dog for a walk.  I asked him, “If there were no people or animals or bugs, would it matter that the universe exists?”  My thought was that in being captivated by the beauty of nature, humanity somehow gives nature purpose.  There needs to be someone or something there to enjoy the beauty in order for that beauty to have meaning.  Yes, creation would still be beautiful, even if no one were there to experience it, but would it matter that it was beautiful?

The book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Staci Eldridge offers an exquisite definition of the beauty of a woman:

Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman.  We know that.  Somewhere down deep, we know it to be true.  Most of our shame comes from this knowing and feeling that we have failed here.  So listen to this: beauty is an essence that dwells in every woman.  It was given to her by God…

Beauty is powerful. Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth.  Beauty speaks.  Beauty invites.  Beauty nourishes.  Beauty comforts.  Beauty inspires.  Beauty is transcendent.  Beauty draws us to God…

A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy enough.  She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough.  In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving.

Perhaps God’s delight in us – and when I say us, I mean us beautiful women, all of us – is what gives our beauty meaning.  And if God thinks we are beautiful, who are we, or anyone else for that matter, to believe otherwise?

At the very core of a woman’s uncertainty about her own beauty is the same lie that has created a “striving” in Christianity – the doctrines of eternal torment and annihilation.  How is a woman supposed to believe anything positive at all about herself, if she believes God eternally torments or annihilates those who are beautiful, worthy, and enough?  I could have ended this blog with the word “otherwise” in the paragraph above, leaving readers with a warm and fuzzy feeling.  But I would rather point out and annihilate the root cause of the problem.  Vital to our sense of worth, for both men and women, is this basic concept:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Perhaps this clicks for some readers.  For others, I lost you after “otherwise.”  Consequently, I just realized that I have another blog series to write – Captivating, and the companion book, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.

Comments
  • Stephen Helbig April 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    It is only in eternity ~ that endless duration ~ in the consummation of ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL ~ that man will be able to discern what God has designed by the various works he has formed.

    ~ Our source of Life is our Father God and to know Him “AS LOVE” is The Grandiose Key to the mystery; ~ A scripture that is on my heart and comes to mind is ~ ”That the communication of our faith may become effectual… HOW?… By the acknowledging of every GOOD thing which is IN YOU IN CHRIST JESUS” (Philemon 1:6) ~ The phrase translated “communication of thy faith,” means the making of thy faith common ~

    The word, “communication” is ~ (Gr. “κοινωνία” “koinōnia”), and is IINTIMATE Contact and fellowship. Notice; ~ Our Life becomes effectual ~ properly, energized, full-of-energy (operative). ~” may be effectual” ~ To answer very good purposes, ~ The good of others, and the service of the Interest of Christ, and the Glory of God; ~ so that it “may be fruitful in works of righteousness”, ~ in works of mercy and kindness; ~ Notice, the apostle’s wisdom is, that it might be more and more so: ~ To bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, ~ KNOWING that in His Plan. ~ THE WHOLE ~ HE HATH MADE BEAUTIFUL ~ in its Time (Eccl. 3:11).

    • Stephen Helbig April 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      Great Quote ~ “Beauty is powerful. Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. ~ BEAUTY DRAWS US TO GOD…” ~

      ~ One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the Beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
      ~ … And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish you the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish it… (Ps. 90:17)

  • Mary Vanderplas April 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    You’re right that the 1 Corinthians 7 text has been twisted and wrongly used to keep women in a subordinate position. The text emphasizes the equality of husband and wife and their mutual obligation in regard to meeting each other’s sexual needs. Evans should have hit up her husband for a “sex anytime” coupon while giving one to him. Better still, they could decide together to have a normal sex life, enjoying freely this good gift of the Creator.

    I agree with your assessment of the view that wives are to keep themselves beautiful so as not to cause husbands to stray. Aside from the fact that it reflects a false understanding of the male-female relationship as God intended it to be, it also, as you point out, reflects a distorted view of the importance of outward appearance. Throughout the Bible, what is said to matter is having inner integrity, not being attractive on the outside (e.g., 1 Peter 3:4).

    I agree with what you say about people using the Bible to support views that are anything but godly – in particular, views that through the centuries have kept women from embracing their God-given worth.

    I like what Evans says about the female voice that dominates the Song of Songs expressing yearnings for sexual intimacy. And I like what you say by way of contrasting superficial sexual encounters (a featured theme in some contemporary secular music) with the true intimacy for which we were created and for which we all long.

    While it makes sense that the Creator’s delight in what he made gives the creation value and meaning, I’m not sure I would say that apart from our being aware of and able to appreciate the beauty of creation, it wouldn’t matter. I’m inclined to think that the meaning is objectively present, not subjectively given by those who are themselves part of the created order.

    I like what you say about our beauty and worth deriving from the fact that God has declared us beautiful and worthy. When we, female or male, recognize ourselves as beloved children of God, forgiven and accepted, we stop trying to justify ourselves, to make ourselves acceptable, by a frantic pursuit to stay young and attractive or by efforts to prove how _____________ (intelligent, talented, virtuous, selfless, humble, hard-working, etc.) we are. We are free from focusing on ourselves to love others and to allow ourselves to be loved.

    I don’t disagree with what you say about the fear of eternal torment creating a striving to be good enough among many people. However, I doubt that this fear is the “root cause” of a “woman’s uncertainty about her own beauty.” It seems more plausible that the cause of self-esteem issues related to physical appearance for women is that in our culture physical beauty (and thinness) is an enslaving idol which many women have been lured into serving.

    • admin April 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      “I don’t disagree with what you say about the fear of eternal torment creating a striving to be good enough among many people. However, I doubt that this fear is the ‘root cause’ of a ‘woman’s uncertainty about her own beauty.'”

      I might have said the same thing, prior to reading the two book I mentioned. I can’t wait to find the time to start on that series!

  • Lanny A. Eichert April 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Wow, Alice, have you gone off the deep end with this statement: How is a woman supposed to believe anything positive at all about herself, if she believes God eternally torments? I never would have know you have such deep insecurities that you have to blame God for them. Now I know why you are so violently opposed to eternal torment. It is not because of all those you loved who have died without confessing Christ, rather it is that you have nothing positive to believe in about yourself. Congratulations, dear sinner, for facing reality. Why do you think God made hell and the Lake of Fire, if it isn’t for all the insecure souls of the world? And it is not remedial, but it is punitive, because they can never learn.

    • Lanny A. Eichert April 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Congratulations, Alice, for facing reality, except you really haven’t as long as you blame the punishment {eternal torment} instead of the cause for punishment which is your natural inability to be good, the doctrine of the total depravity of mankind. Don’t you see that when you have no ability to believe anything positive at all about yourself, it is not the fault of eternal torment, but it is sin in you, your sinful nature. It is because you are a sinner you spontaneously have such low self-esteem. That’s NATURAL.

      What also is natural because of sin in you is your deceptive acts of deflecting the blame from the true source to a false source. You do that to avoid the real issue. Make eternal torment the scape goat and you avoid facing your real unbelief. In your thinking your scape goat justifies your unbelief. Your blog site is plumb full of at least two scape goats: eternal torment and the institutional church. You use both to justify your unorthodoxy.

      And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. {2 Thessalonians 3: 2} All men have not faith. All have not faith. Not then, not now, nor ever. What is wicked? Not having faith, right? WICKED UNORTHODOXY. What does that make you if the text is written about unreasonable and wicked men? ***And you have lead the way !!! *** imaginations, imaginations without faith.

  • […] (Here are the other blogs, if you want to have a look: Three-Thousand-Year-Old Inferiority Complex, Girl Gone Mild, Martha Stewart Theology, Obedience: My Husband, My Master, Bird’s Eye View of Rachel Evans’ Book, Eshet Chayil, and My Breasts Are Like Towers.) […]

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