A model in the 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition called herself a “grandma” because she was appearing in her ninth consecutive issue.
It’s apparently unusual for a model to do that kind of modeling for nearly a decade.
Think about this—nine years and she’s a “grandma.”
My wife and I have been married for thirty years. If our parents’ and grandparents’ longevity is any determination, we might not even be halfway to how long we’ll eventually be married. Nine years is nothing. Nine years won’t even get your first child to middle school, even if you get pregnant on your honeymoon.
Which may explain why the writer of Proverbs warns young men who are seeking wives not to pay too much attention to beauty and charm (31:30). Instead, he tells singles to seek a superior kind of loveliness: faith and godliness.
If marriage lasted about as long as the normal swimsuit modeling career—five, maybe ten years—he might have said something very different. But he recognizes that choosing someone for something that fades so quickly is a foolish thing to do.
It’s your call: you can make a lifelong choice based on something that will bring one kind of pleasure for a decade or so, or make a choice that will bless you in numerous ways for the next fifty or sixty years.
Here’s something wonderful about godly women (and men): kindness blooms, it doesn’t fade. Faith gets wider, not narrower. Wisdom grows deeper by the year, never shallower. If you choose a marriage partner based on these qualities, your love and appreciation and admiration for them will grow—bloom!—through the years.
I’m not going to lie—I love being married to a woman whom I’m still enormously attracted to physically. But the reality is that, according to a new global survey conducted by Reebok and PR consultant firm Censuswide, the average person will spend .45 percent of their lifetime having sex. Do you want to compromise on 95.5 percent of your life to have something special going .45 percent of your life? (By the way, appearance has very little to do with long-term sexual satisfaction, so this analogy is even more limited.)
What I love even more than Lisa’s physical beauty is the presence of God in her life. This presence has, I believe, preserved her physical beauty. What younger guys often don’t understand is how quickly a corrupt or immature soul can corrupt a woman’s outer beauty. Take the most beautiful woman you can imagine—look at her while she rages, sneers, scoffs, or ridicules you, let her countenance be filled with bitterness, and you’ll soon see that her beauty can become rather quickly buried behind spiritual and moral dysfunction.
Nobody wears hatred well. A narcissist begins to look pathetic, not desirable. It may take a few years for young faces to be marked by spiritual sickness, but it takes less time than most imagine.
Watch a guy give himself over to debauchery and alcohol; a man without self-control, humility, or compassion, and driven by selfish desires, consumption, and selfish pleasure. In his twenties, he may be one of the most sought-after young men of his generation. But compare pictures of some of these rock stars in the 80s with photos of them today and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not just about age.
The blessing, of course, is that many godly women are also very beautiful. It’s not wrong or immature to fall for a physically appealing woman. It’s natural. Just make sure that the beauty you see is guarded by a pure soul, so that the beauty can be more than preserved—it will be enhanced.
Early church father John Chrysostom puts the shelf life of physical beauty at a much shorter time than even I do: “The beauty of the body, if it is not joined with virtue of the soul, will be able to hold a husband for twenty or thirty days, but will go no farther before it shows its wickedness and destroys all its attractiveness. As for those who radiate the beauty of the soul, the longer time goes by and tests their proper nobility, the warmer they make their husband’s love and the more they strengthen their affection for him.”
When God tells you in the book of Proverbs to put a premium on godliness over physical appearance, it’s because He wants you to be even more attracted to your wife (or husband) when she or he turns fifty than you are on your wedding day. Your heavenly Father wants you to be blessed throughout your life, not just for a decade.
Trust Him in this, singles. He knows what He’s talking about.