Dear (usually young) single male,
I have been asked this same question by many of your ilk. To be more honest than I’d be if I were posting this answer on a blog, I confess I have made that same enquiry myself. The conventional wisdom I received was that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is true, but some beholders are idiots. I was one of them.
The answer is now so obvious to me; but it is because I can still remember the days before I got married twelve years ago that I don’t want to make too much fun of you. so, here are five principles I’ve learned you might find helpful.
1. Know Thyself
As the ancient Delphic maxim goes, you must have self-awareness to avoid much frustration. One mentor proffered this rather opaque aphorism: “If you want to shop on aisle ten, you need to stop looking like you belong in aisle one.” I’m still not sure exactly what that means—is there a rating system to the aisles in grocery stores?— but I stewed on that wisdom til I realized he was saying: “If you want to date a cute, smart, well-dressed, well-groomed, intelligent gal, then lose the earring, get a haircut, wash your clothes more often than you do, stop stuffing your face, trade your PlayStation for a library card, and try breathing through your nose.”
Many young men are oblivious as to what league they are trying out for. If you want to marry a godly woman, start by becoming a godly man. And if you’d prefer her to be easy on the eyes try becoming a bit more presentable yourself.
2. Do unto others
Some males are mystified as to why the svelte ladies they find so appealing all seem to be “too shallow” to overlook their foibles and physical shortfalls. It is worth reminding these myopic males that they should treat others the way they would want to be treated. If you hope your future wife will see past your corpulent girth, oily skin, and caprine facial hair, don’t get hung-up on her muffin-top.
Some guys slip off the other side of the self-awareness horse. They become so obsessed with every bulge of muscle they manage to generate in front of the gym’s mirrors that they begin to assume having a six-pack is normal (it’s not).
3. Believe the Bible
God repeatedly warns in Scripture that beauty can easily be a skin deep minefield of deception, a ticking time bomb of regret wrapped in cheap, pretty paper.
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I like how cigarette packaging comes plastered with cancer warnings. This should be the warning label on fashion magazines:
Proverbs 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
Though there is certainly nothing at all wrong with a woman watching her weight, using some rouge, combing her hair once in a while, or otherwise taking care of her appearance, her efforts become self-defeating when she dresses to draw inordinate attention to her physique. I don’t mean a lady needs to don a sack-cloth muumuu to prove her modesty. But if she wants you to ogle her flesh, if she encourages you to focus on parts of her body you have no business enjoying before marriage that reveals something about her character. That’s not the view of a fuddy-duddy prude; it’s God’s standard for feminine beauty:
1 Pet 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
4. Love, Love Me Do
Even the Beatles knew that love is a verb. You don’t feel love, you do love. The feelings of affection ebb and flow with the seasons of life.
The physical beauty and shape comes and goes with fatigue, flu, ageing, childbearing, etc. but cheerfulness, kindness, commitment, and patience (a requisite for putting up with your cheesy humor, your absent-mindedness around anniversary time, and your snoring), are all virtues you can’t glean from a Photoshopped selfie, and yet they are the glue of marriage, in season and out.
5. Blind Faith
Am I saying that looks play absolutely no part in selecting a spouse? Am I advocating that girls go out of their way to mask their appearance to test the sincerity of their suitors, like a ninja matchmaking service? Um, no.
Physical beauty is a gift from God in nature and art and people. It is perfectly fine to recognize, enjoy, and pursue beauty…in its place. Architects know that a good design never elevates form over function. You wouldn’t buy a sleek Ferrari if it didn’t have an engine.
Physical attraction is a wonderful luxury that you may choose to wait for. You may even choose to be single forever rather than marry someone you aren’t physically attracted to. Good luck with that. Just don’t prioritize looks over character. You may insist on both and be willing to die single, or you may have to choose. My advice: choose character. You will eventually find true beauty shapes your perception from the inside out.
If you’ve seen my stunning wife, you may accuse me of not practicing what I proffer. But everyone who has met her knows that I married her despite her head-turning beauty. As one who has been married to a hot girl for twelve years now, I can tell you it is her godliness and maternal instincts and ability to forgive me and be patient and to persevere in trials and confront my sin in a way that makes me laugh that are BY FAR the most important part of why I have a happy marriage, great kids, and a really fun life.
So, the short answer to your question, “May I marry for looks?” is yes, you may, in the same way that you may bath with a cat or embrace a beehive. “All things are lawful but not all are profitable.” Just don’t be an idiot.