The famous and oft quoted Proverbs 31 says, Charm is deceptive, and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

This is no disrespect of women, especially those of widely regarded physical beauty. But it is something that men especially need to be mindful of, for men are very visual, and thereby focused on physical beauty. Yet physical beauty, however a man accounts it, is no guarantee that the woman in question shares his faith, values, or outlook. Neither does it reflect anything for or against her virtue, honesty or integrity.

This is a remarkably hard truth for men to apply. It is NOT a hard concept to understand in the abstract. And most men will nod or say amen to what was said above. But when abstraction becomes reality and “she” walks in the door, “lookin so fine” it is too easy to watch how every shred of common sense vanishes in an instant. Thinking shuts down, and decisions are often made with little sober reflection. And suddenly the man goes into his “Baby if you’ve got the curves, I’ve got the angles” mode.

Again, let the disclaimer be clear that “attractive” women (however one accounts that) are no more or less likely to be virtuous. The point isn’t to be suspicious of women regarded as attractive, but rather that men need to be on guard in reference to their tendency to equate looks alone with inner realities, or, alternately to disregard more serious and deeper considerations altogether when good looks enter the scene.

Proverbs 31 quoted above reminds men that charm can be deceptive and that beauty, considered simply as physical beauty is vain (i.e. an empty or neutral quality) when considering a woman. Physical beauty is also “fleeting” as men  account it in our culture, since, in these times especially beauty is tied to youthful features which necessarily mature as years progress.

Thus, Proverbs 31 sets forth a whole host of qualities that a man ought to esteem in a woman, beyond looks. The qualities are too numerous to set forth in this post but you can read them here: The Woman of Proverbs. But surely among those qualities are that she is of noble character, industrious, generous to the poor, caring of her family, faithful and kind.

Yes, comes the advice, look to these, not just to “looks.” There is more to life than charm and looks. Men need to be sober about this, but often are not. There is actually a person attached to those looks who needs to be discovered, respected and also assessed for who she really is.

In the video below, two men are driving along a road and come upon a beautiful woman standing provocatively next to a disabled car. You know they are going to stop! And stop they do! But suddenly one of the men thinks beyond the looks, and sees something wrong. Yes, there is more to the picture than a beautiful woman. Something beyond mere beauty must be considered!

Enjoy this humorous illustration of Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is not only vain, but in this case it is downright fleeting!

12 Responses

  1. Leticia says:

    There is a very good book, “Every Man’s Battle, Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time”, by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey, which addresses this issue. There is also a version for teenagers. http://www.amazon.com/Every-Mans-Battle-Winning-Temptation/dp/0307457974#reader_0307457974

  2. Patricia says:

    Good points, but women too fall into this trap.
    More often than not, movies, cartoons, portray good guys as attractive and the villians as disfigured or highly unattractive, we are programed with these associations from childhood. Mother Teresa is the poster child for inner beauty, her face all weathered and worn, somehow is still beautiful , her inner beauty cannot be covered. We need more of these examples to help our children see past the surface and appreciate the beauty within.

    • Mike says:

      There’s something possibly even worse than portraying “good guys” as attractive and villains as ugly. That’s the portrayal we see more and more often in modern media of morally equivocal or evil persons as attractive sophisticates, and of morally good people as plain or ugly simpletons.

  3. Mr. Two Cents says:

    Amen, Amen. And it takes man AND woman to work as a team!

  4. Mike says:

    Good column. It’s summertime. God puts beauty in the world for a reason too. Beauty is wonderful and amazing and a gift from God. But like anything in this world, it needs to be respected. One possible strategy for overcoming these types of powerful temptations is to not let yourself be alone in their presence.

  5. RichardGTC says:

    Judith 10:17-18 ” [17] And when she was come into his presence, forthwith Holofernes was caught by his eyes. [18]And his officers said to him: Who can despise the people of the Hebrews who have such beautiful women, that we should not think it worth our while for their sakes to fight against them?”

    ……………………………………………………….

    Judith 13:8-11 ” [8] And when she had said this, she went to the pillar that was at his bed’ s head, and loosed his sword that hung tied upon it. [9] And when she had drawn it out, she took him by the hair of his head, and said: Strengthen me, O Lord God, at this hour. [10] And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head, and took off his canopy from the pillars, and rolled away his headless body.

    [11] And after a while she went out, and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet.

  6. Ed says:

    “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.”(1 Peter 3:3-4)
    Amen!

    While men will always adore beautiful women(we can’t help it!), it is the inner beauty that is ‘very precious in God’s sight.”

  7. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    The women of Proverbs reminds me of Garrison Keeler’s stories of Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children above average.

    • J Carr says:

      Good point. Society is not helping. It’s hard to ignore the state discretion in both men and women. The church could be leading this. I rather go to early mass only because later masses are filled with well intentioned but disrespectful parishioners in various states of dress. Some people seem to be dressed as if they’re going to a beach or nightclub. Maybe I’m getting old.

  8. Mary says:

    You thought the woman charming? Hummm…. that is not the definition of charm but of sluttiness.

  9. J Carr says:

    But it’s so hard to ignore for most guys. What are we to do?

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