As a ring in the snout of a pig, so is beauty in an ill-minded woman.” (Prov 11: 22, Septuagint-translation)

Wow, that’s harsh. But wait a minute, and let’s think about what this passage says about physical beauty in human beings. Because it is talking about physical beauty in a person, – not only a woman, – whose internal disposition (“mind”) is “ill.” If you want to argue with that interpretation, and insist that this passage refers only to women, then go ahead and argue that the very first words of the Psalter, “Blessed is the man…” (Ps 1: 1), refer only to “men.” If you will not argue that, then let’s dispense with gender-specifics and talk about physical beauty in people in general.

Physical “beauty” in human beings attracts us to them, at a first glance, if we are not blind. But if we proceed to discover they are “ill-minded” in some way, then the contrast between their external appearance and their inner character (“mind”) is particularly off-putting. Like “a ring in the snout of a pig.” It isn’t very “fair” to beautiful people, I suppose, but that is the way it is.

In our time of relative affluence, with our access to modern-day medicine, beauty-products, fitness-clubs, and healthy food, I think many of us have the opportunity to be more or less “beautiful” physically. But let me be reminded today, – if I do enjoy this gift of physical beauty and care for it, – of an ancient, simple wisdom from Holy Scripture. And that is, that physical beauty in a human being is not meant to be out of harmony with his/her spiritual beauty. Let me care for my inner “mind,” that it not be “ill” but aligned with God, the Source of Beauty, in heartfelt prayer, contemplation of His word, and self-examination. Let me take care of all that, before I head for the gym, or do my hair, or take care of my outer appearance in some other way. Lord, help me keep things in perspective, that I may be healthy and beautiful in Your eyes. Amen!


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