I was at a ministry leaders summit recently and a particular discussion emerged around the topic of differences between men and women, more specifically how women crave affirmation of their beauty. One man in attendance (who shall remain nameless) jumped in with a fair degree of passion to challenge the claim that this desire for affirming one's beauty was exclusive to women. He argued that all humanity, women and men, desire to be affirmed for their "beauty."
From there, everyone was quite lively, yet never incorrigible. I even jumped in to semi-defend the individuals pointing out the male-female differences. I was then directly confronted on my assertions regarding acknowledging, and embracing, my own beauty. After a few more minutes, the conversation shifted, but I was left wrestling with a truth wrapped in language I didn't like.
Beauty is not a term I readily associate with masculinity. It's a girl word. But it isn't an exclusive girl word, and that is what I was wrestling with; that beauty could be manly. Could God have made men beautiful, too? If so, how? And why?
As I have spent the past few days mulling over this idea that men possess beauty, I came across some Bible passages that resonated with this idea. Here are just a few:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
(Psalm 139: 13-14, 17-18)
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
God is a Father who loves His kids and sees beauty in us from the day we were conceived; even before that day! Yet, too often, this beauty is not allowed to be celebrated in men, except in various perverted ways that strip him of his manhood (i.e. homosexual celebration of 'beauty'). But God does no such thing. He looks a man square in his eyes and declares, "You are precious to me, a beautiful son to Me. I find delight in you!"
I think where we tend to get hung up on this idea of men being beautiful is that we try to package God's affection for men in the same vehicle as His affection for women. In other words, men think God must use the same exact methods for speaking affectionately to them as He does to their wife or daughter or mother or, heaven forbid, mother-in-law. Thankfully, God is more personal than that.
My most tender moments of affirmation from God are not moments in which He tries to "draw out my female side." (By the way, I don't have a female side; I'm a man.) Instead, God affirms the beauty He placed in me as a man. He affirms my masculinity. Here is just one example of how God might affirm me:
I love you. I remember when I made you in your mother's womb. I declared you to be a man, a son of mine from the very beginning. You may have been born to your parents, but you have belonged to me long before they existed. It wasn't a mistake that you were born a boy. I did that on purpose, and I'm glad I did.
You honor me when you live how I made you; when you love your wife well, lead your kids according to my Word, and serve others by offering strength to those who are weak. I made you to protect and lead, to stand firm in a world of faithlessness. I made you to be a godly man, and that is who I see when I look at you.
You are a beautiful son. Shine!
Love, your Father in heaven...
Man, don't be fooled into thinking you must become less masculine to be more beautiful. You are a beautiful man, made by God to be the best man you can be. May you learn to embrace your masculine beauty, and shine brightly as a son of the King.
(Ezekiel 16:8-14, emphasis mine)