Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder? (Part 3)
The Objectivity of Beauty
I would make the case that beauty is objective because it describes who God is. In fact, all of His creation is beautiful and communicates and reflects His beauty to one degree or another: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
But not everything in creation is beautiful, right? That’s right, because of sin and rebellion against God. If God is the standard for what is beautiful, anything that seeks autonomy from Him suddenly becomes ugly. Enter the devil, the fall, death, disease, destruction—ugliness.
So in our fallen world everything is a mixture of the reflection of the beauty of God mixed with our own ugliness of sin. Sin ruins everything.
The Greeks believed in an absolute standard of beauty developed by Pythagoras in the 6th century BC. The only problem with the Greeks, however, is that they did not see beauty with its source in God. They started worshiping the created forms that were beautiful and began looking to them as the absolute instead of the Creator. Whenever one exchanges the glory of God for the created things, one’s system of thought becomes very dark and narrow. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23). We see this same ugly system in our own culture today. For instance, our culture may objectify one woman as THE standard for beauty, while ignoring the God-created beauty in every single woman. This is a very dark, evil, and idolatrous system of thought.
God the Son became ugly
We know that God is the absolute standard of beauty. The sum of all of who God is, is beautiful. God is so wise, so powerful, and so good that He is going to remake the universe and is currently remaking men and women who are becoming and who will be (at the resurrection of the just) a pure reflection of His perfection and beauty. How can that be? It happened at the cross when Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the radiance of the glory of God, became ugly. Ugly? The Son of God—ugly??!!? Yes, when He bore all the ugliness of sinners’ sin on the cross. He paid the death penalty and bore the holy, good, and just wrath of God against sinners’ unspeakable crimes against God Himself—from the littlest lie or lust to the biggest murder or theft. Now anyone who believes in Him can receive His beauty and righteousness! It’s a free gift by faith! After paying sin’s debt and dying, He rose from the dead and offers new and everlasting life to all who believe in Him. If you don't look to Jesus for life there will be hell to pay for all eternity. Repent of your sin and trust in Him today for everlasting LIFE!
Variety of Beauty and Glory
So far we found that beauty is objective and finds it source in God. Whenever we look to ourselves as the supreme authority who possesses the standard for what’s beautiful in ourselves, such as postmoderns do, that is idolatry. Likewise, whenever we worship the created forms as the absolute, such as the Greeks did, that also is idolatry.
Probably the most common objection when it comes to the objectivity of beauty is the variety of beauty in creation and our different tastes. One might bring up “I find the color green beautiful and my wife finds the color blue beautiful. Who is right?” I would say, “it doesn’t matter!!” Because you are not the starting point for what is beautiful—God is. All the different preferences don’t matter when God is at the apex of what is beautiful. This accounts for seemingly endless diversity of beauty in God’s creation. Everything that God made is good and beautiful. Yet everything is not equal in its glory. This is okay, because God is okay with inequality. Some are given ten talents, some five, some one. We don’t deserve anything… all we need to do is be content and praise God for His goodness!
Consider how all stars are beautiful but differ from one another in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:39-41 says, “For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”
Regardless of how strong or wise or what material blessings God has blessed you with, don’t glory in those created things. They’re just a brief shadow compared to the substance of who God is. Jeremiah 9:23-24 says: “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
And you can know God through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Aniol, Scott. Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship. Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 2009. Print.
Munson, Paul Allen. & Drake, Joshua Farris. Art and Music: A Student’s Guide. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. Print.
Smith, R. Scott. Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005. Print.
Sproul, R.C.. “Building with Conviction” Tabletalk September (2010): 6. Print.