Words of Wisdom: Women, Beware the Beauty Beyond the Buttons and Bows
Moreover, the Lord says: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton (seductive) eyes, prancing and mincing about as they go, tinkling their ankle bracelets. Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalps of the daughters of Zion with a scab, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will strip away the bravery of tinkling ornaments, cauls*, crescents, chains, bracelets, and mufflers (veils), headdresses, leg ornaments, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, signet rings, nose jewels, festive apparel, mantels (shawls), wimples (head and neck coverings), crisping pins (purses), hand glasses (mirrors), fine linen, hoods, and veils. It shall come to pass, instead of fragrant smells there will be putridness; instead of a girdle, a rent (torn cloth); instead of well-styled hair, baldness; instead of fine stomacher (decorative underclothing), sackcloth; branding (burn mark) instead of beauty. Your men will fall by the sword, your strength (might) in warfare. Then her gates will lament and mourn; desolate, she will sit on the ground. In that day seven women will take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by your name. Take away our reproach.” Isaiah 3:16-4:1
The Bible focuses so heavily upon man that sometimes women appear mostly neglected, mere innocent bystanders, except whenever women get portrayed as convenient scapegoats for the missteps of men. However, some significant passages warn women of their unique godly responsibilities. Isaiah offers one of those passages which also reveals the reasoning behind the attitude and attire of nuns in the Catholic Church. The passage contrasts the worldly view of women versus God’s ideal for women.
This passage provides a timely relevant message for all young women to ponder. And here are a few questions for the young ladies reading this passage: First, do you feel God made a mistake when he created you? Do you believe all those buttons and bows make you more attractive and appealing than you are? Do you think God prefers you all decked out and gussied up, rather than the way he created you? Why do you invest so much time creating an image that is not the natural you? Do you only feel beautiful by adorning and gussying yourself?
I believe this passage reveals that all the rogue, eyeliner, blush, and fuss fixing your hair does nothing for the condition of a young lady’s heart and soul. Of course, one’s vanity smiles and sashays when you adorn yourself just to draw attention. And, for what purposes? Is all your effort meant to appease Go, man, or self? From which of these can anyone gain lasting peace and security in life?
Since the earliest days, we know for a fact that women of ancient Egyptian and Sumerian cultures began to adorn themselves with jewelry, bangles, and fine apparel, and even paint their faces. Many millennia later, women in almost every culture continue this practice, so maybe history argues that God intended women to go through all the fuss of wearing fancy buttons and bows to attract the man of their desires. But, is that what God says is the most important thing a woman should place her focus?
If a woman’s vanity is focused upon her outer beauty to capture the hearts of men, has she abandoned her most significant relationship with God, her Creator? Will the man of her desires only see her for the contrived, temporal outer image, and then become disillusioned by what he discovers beneath the facade? Rather than trying to appeal to natural, sinful man, why not seek to be desirous according to God’s will, ways, and wisdom?
Remember, at the end of the day, long after you have captured the heart of any man, you must eventually remove the buttons and bows and wash your face. Will he still see your genuine, natural beauty that God gifted you? What kind of glamour will hold fast the relationship God intended between a man and a woman? God brings a man and woman together through the mutual desire of their hearts and souls uniting them as one, not all the fancy buttons and bows.
*caul (cowl) – (literally, helmeted head) is a piece of membrane that can cover a newborn’s head and face. Though rare and harmless, it is removed by the doctor or midwife upon delivery of the child. There are various types of cauls from a thin film to more of a cocoon-like covering of an infant.
In medieval times a caul on a newborn was an omen that the child was destined for greatness. The midwife would rub a sheet of paper across the baby’s head and face to remove the caul, and then presented to the mother as an heirloom. In early European folklore, a caul carried good fortune to the bearer. (Additional research into some of the renown literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries would reveal its place as a talisman of value.)