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A Christian View of Beauty

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Beauty, a term once revered in ancient days as the pinnacle of physical attributes embodied in worldly entities, has seemingly in this day lost much of its meaning. Phrases like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” have surprisingly become commonplace, and even Christians have begun to subscribe to the notion of aesthetic relativism. Specifically, this is the idea that beauty is purely contained within the observer and objects on their own have no aesthetic value in and of themselves. It is what has effectively stripped the main essence from the old ideal of beauty, and in my opinion a primary reason why there are so many who cannot see or refuse to see God in the world today.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, the oft-heard phrase today, refers to one’s belief in the subjectivity of beautyвЂ"that is, aesthetic relativism. This prevailing belief dictates that my own perception of what is beautiful does not necessarily correlate to others’ perception of what they find beautiful. Simply because I find a song inspiring and relaxing does not necessarily mean that everyone will and it’s even pretentious and rude of me to insist so. And since everyone has their own particular tastes in all types of art, it is inferred that those tastes correlate to true beauty in their own eyes. But, this whole concept of beauty in each man’s own perception is severely lacking: it gives our own God far too little credit for the creation itself.

In my opinion, a greatly preferable view for one who professes to believe in a divine creator is the belief in the objectivity of beauty. Perhaps the ancient Greeks were on to something after all when artists such as Polykleitos sought the perfect proportions of beauty. Such a pursuit required one to see beauty as objective: something contained within the object itself. Especially farseeing was Plato’s belief in the “idea” realm, in which perfect prototypes of every living and nonliving thing existed. It was a transcendent realm which we could never quite reach in terms of achieving this perfect “idea form”. Such a theory, old as it is, is not very far from the truth in my opinion. The real truth of beauty lies in none other than our own God. Nevertheless, I think it is necessary to divide beauty into two types to see how God influences it.

There is a physical beauty in each living and nonliving thing; something which can be perceived by the eye. Such beauty, I think, aligns with Plato’s “idea form” conceptвЂ"that is, we perceive things as the most beautiful when they are closest to that ideal shape from which they were wrought. Among my beliefs is that God really does have ideal forms in His own mind, from which spring forth every single precious creation. God’s creations are often universally seen as beautiful to usвЂ"forests, rivers, grasslands, domestic animals and wild animals alike are loved by us and sometimes even worshipped for their beauty. Their forms tend to be very similar among their own kind, and many different organizations strive to find the perfect proportions, coloring, and other attributes of them. A well-known example is the American Kennel Club, which appoints judges in dog shows who determine the ideal proportions of many breeds of dogs. In such competitions, we are striving to find the ideal, most beautiful form of dogs, which strongly hints at a belief in an archetypal “idea form”. Perhaps the human form itself could even have its archetypal roots in Adam and Eve; but regardless, humans who most closely fit this prototypical form are perceived as most beautiful by others. Ugliness is the disfiguration or mutilation of this form, such as severed parts or scars or even obesity. Even so, there is always some degree of the supreme beauty in each and every creation, for God’s own light can shine through even the darkest of places.

Indeed, God’s original beauty shining through us and our own creations is the main source of aesthetic pleasure in this world. God revealed this to us in Ezekiel 16:14, when He declared “And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect”. This constitutes a second kind of beauty, a nonphysical and more conceptual beauty. Such beauty is what normally would be seen in man’s creations and his very personality. It can be witnessed in personalities such as a warm and inviting host, a charitable man who goes out of his way to help others, or something as simple as one who laughs often. And, of course, a massive demonstrator of this kind of beauty is creations of man’s own design such as music, paintings, and



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