On Value and Beauty | By Joe Pinner
I want to say something about every woman, using the concept of objective value and beauty, and I’d like to offer some some of my personal reflections that I hope will encourage you. However, it would be a terrible mistake to think that I’m somehow a proper authority on anything, let alone the value and beauty of a woman. I’m an ordinary man. Sometimes I’m grumpy, and selfish, and not very impressive. I don’t always love my wife, Andrea, like Christ loves the church (I’d be surprised to learn if I did that for a minute straight), and I don’t always honor her as she deserves. I swear this is true and not false humility—although I’m not above false humility—because I’m also brimming with ugly pride. I’m pretty sure that’s why I said yes to writing this.
So, I’m a mess. I’m definitely not better than anyone else’s husband. I emphasize this
point because this blog is not meant to be about me, and you should be thanking me for that. There is nothing helpful to you about some guy at your church merely talking about why he appreciates his wife. My hope here is to give you something more substantial than that. Ultimately I want to tell you not about why I’m so crazy about Andrea, but why God is so crazy about you.
Now, that being said, I will briefly share something about my love for Andrea. I’m captivated by her. Like Valentine in Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, bemoaning any moment of her absence: “What light is light, if Silvia (Andrea) be not seen? What joy is joy, if Silvia (Andrea) be not by…” It’s kind of overwhelming how amazing she is to me, but I can’t help it.
This admiration I have for Andrea is a very enjoyable affair, no doubt, but it has often caused me a great deal of curiosity about the nature of her value and beauty, such that it should be so intoxicating to me. Yes, she’s physically beautiful, and yes, she is incredibly virtuous and smells wonderful. But these qualities alone seem to fall short of explaining my strong temptation to worship her. Am I mental?
Happily, the disciplines of theology and philosophy have proven useful in shedding some light on this matter for me. As it so happens, there are two different ways of talking about value judgements, both of which, are familiar to us. Sometimes we talk about things we personally prefer over others— like our favorite ice cream flavor over another, or even wealth over poverty. These kinds of value judgements are of the subjective variety meaning that they are autobiographical and can only provide information about the person (or subject) who is sharing. Other times however, we make value judgements that are obviously meant to objectively describe the quality of something. Moral or ethical value judgements are an easy example of these. The wrongness of rape, murder, lying, and cheating is a quality of the actions themselves and not the observer. These kinds of judgements only tell us about the person making them insofar as they confirm a person is capable of seeing these objective features— like a man at the doctor’s office reading an eye chart.
This brings us to the concept of beauty. If pop culture is to be believed, beauty is an entirely personal construct and is thus constrained to the “eye of the beholder.” But this limited view of beauty would be at odds with what we actually take beauty to be. Such a view, if correct, would certainly mean the end of artistic appreciation and criticism for all mediums including painting, architecture, and even fashion. After all, who would care about any person’s mere subjective opinion of beauty, if we did not also see that their statements were predicated upon the presence of real and objective beauty? The deficient subjective view of beauty simply doesn’t explain the kinds of feelings that come over us when we behold true beauty; and just as we understand ethical values to exist independently of our human minds, we find that beauty is the same. We simply see that certain things are beautiful because of something mysteriously connected to their nature. This mystery has led many of our great philosophers to conclude the only thing that makes sense of the data: God is the source of beauty.
Now, that’s all well and good, and I know that the concept of beauty can be a fussy one; especially when you’re pleading in the mirror with your mascara to stop clumping, or when your beloved jeans are fitting tighter than when you bought them. But a woman’s value and beauty is not found in these things. Nor is it found in Pinterest-worthy decorative, organic lunches you wish you had the time to pack daily for your children, or even a unique ability to repurpose old wine bottles and file cabinets. If it were, Valentine would have lost interest in his Silvia long before he could have uttered his declarations of love. A woman is so much more than this.
A woman is valuable and beautiful because of something in her very nature. In their book, Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge explain, “She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam, but with Eve. She is the Master’s finishing touch … Can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation?” Woman, like man, bears the imago Dei, the image of God. But the unique creation of woman showed us the tender and aesthetic side of God not showcased by man. This value and beauty is hers in a permanent, objective sense, and never relied on Smashbox, Cross-Fit, or Etsy.
So, with this, I say to every woman who is reading my words: You embody every bit of the same objective, factual beauty that God imbued to Eve. You are enough! You are gorgeous and valuable independently from anything you could ever add to yourself. Your very nature has been set apart from the rest of creation by the creator, Himself, and cannot be modified. This is not true simply because I subjectively prefer it to be true. No, as I indicated earlier, my experience with this value and beauty in my marriage is quite irresistible. Rather, the things I’ve told you are a part of the story of reality revealed to us in God’s Word. They are objectively true.
About the Author
Joseph Pinner is 37 years old and has been married to Andrea Pinner for 17 years. Together they have five daughters with ages ranging from 1 to 16. He works at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla as a dialysis technician and soon-to-be RN. Family is his greatest passion and calling in life, but a close second is defending the truth of Christianity by presenting reason and evidence in love.