Last week we received this intriguing comment regarding beauty from Ebute-metta Gloria in Nigeria:
“Why is it that women(Wives) like to wear open and transparent dressing irrespective of the season. There is this saying that beauty is to be internal, let our beauty be kept for the our husband alone. My worry is on the married women who are called wives. There was an argument in the spiritual world where women or rather wives wanted to dress beautifully in order to be seen by others but the men said no, it should be only to her husband, and this was confirmed by wives from heaven, that the men are correct, married women are only to appear beautiful to their husband…….. C.L. 330.4. What is your opinion as a New Church woman?”
I was fascinated by this concept and had to look up Conjugial Love 330. Though I’ve read through this book several times, somehow I don’t remember this poignant little memorable relation all about how men and women relate to female beauty. The portion Gloria is referencing is at the very end:
“I once heard a friendly discussion among some men regarding the feminine sex, as to whether any woman can love her husband if she is constantly in love with her own beauty, that is, if she loves herself on account of her appearance. The men agreed among themselves, first that women have a twofold beauty, one a natural beauty having to do with their face and figure, and the other a spiritual beauty having to do with their love and demeanor. They agreed also that these two kinds of beauty are very often separated in the natural world, but that they are always united in the spiritual world; for outward beauty in the spiritual world is an expression of a person’s love and demeanor. It frequently happens after death therefore that homely women become beautiful, and beautiful women homely.
 As the men were discussing this, some wives came to them saying, ‘Permit us to join you; for what you are discussing you know from observation, but we know it from experience. Besides, as regards the love possessed by wives you know so little as to know scarcely anything. Are you aware that it is a matter of prudence inherent in the wisdom of wives to hide their love for their husbands and conceal it in the recesses of their bosom or at the center of their heart?’
The discussion recommenced, and the first conclusion drawn by the men was that every woman wishes to seem beautiful in appearance and beautiful in demeanor, because she is from birth the form of an affection of love and this affection is expressed in beauty. Therefore a woman who does not wish to be beautiful is not a woman who wishes to love and be loved, and so is not truly a woman.
To this the wives said, ‘A woman’s beauty lies in her gentle tenderness and in her consequent keen sensitivity of feeling. That is what occasions a woman’s love for a man and a man’s love for a woman. This is perhaps something you do not understand.’
 The men’s second conclusion was that before marriage a woman wishes to be beautiful for men in general, but after marriage, if she is chaste, for her husband only and not for other men.
To this the wives said, ‘After a husband has tasted the natural beauty of his wife he no longer sees it, but sees instead her spiritual beauty and returns her love because of that. If he calls to mind her natural beauty, he does so with a different view of it.’
 The third conclusion reached by the men in their discussion was that if a woman after marriage wishes to seem beautiful in the same way as before, she loves men in general and not her husband. ‘For a woman who loves herself on account of her beauty,’ they explained, ‘continually wishes to have her beauty tasted; and because it is no longer seen by her husband – as you women have said – she wishes to have it tasted by men who do see it. It is patent that such a woman has a love for the opposite sex in general and not a love for just one.’
At this the wives were silent, though they murmured to themselves, ‘What woman is so without vanity that she does not wish to seem beautiful to men in general also at the same time as to her one and only?’
Listening to this were some wives from heaven, who were themselves beautiful, being forms of heavenly affection, and they confirmed the three conclusions reached by the men. But they added, ‘Let women love their beauty and its ornamentation, provided it is for the sake of their husbands and inspired by them.'”
Well ladies, what is your opinion as New Christian Women?
3 thoughts on “Beautiful for One or Many?”
I’ve always loved all these different layers of comment in this story in ML. The wives in spiritual world, the husbands, the wives looking down from heaven.
I feel like I can see the point of the women who grumble about who can be so spiritual as to not want to be thought beautiful. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that wanting to be generally likable and pleasing is one thing, and wanting to stun or impress others than one’s husband with one’s beauty is another thing! I have also realized that these changes take time and happen gradually. The Lord lets us change slowly.
On another note, I’ve noticed that a woman ceasing to take any care of—or appearing to not care a toss about—her appearance is a sign of something wrong or hurting in the couples relationship. I don’t mean she has to spend a lot of time in front of a mirror. I mean she still needs to care for the sake of her husband.
Not thought through carefully—but if I understand the question to be why some married women dress immodestly, a partial cause could be the confusing messages sent to her by the world as to what is feminine. I remember being confused when I was growing up. I loved fluffy, princessy things, but also found it fun to wear short skirts, etc, because that seemed to be another kind of feminine. It didn’t take me long to realize that the latter was more about ‘sex-appeal’, and appealing to the masculine’s lower mind and body alone. If one listens to the Lord and not the world, it is pretty obvious how we should dress, and whom we are trying to please! The affection for truth appears beautiful, when genuine. That’s what we should strive for, for our husbands, and for the world.
This question/quote came at a time when I’m guiding a teenage daughter through the minefield of insecurity around being liked and caring what others think about what she wears or how she looks.
She and I read through this and we talked about inner and outer beauty and that what she sees in the media (magazines, TV, Movies, music videos) is an ‘image’ of women that is more about selling something than about beauty. I’ve asked her how she feels when she wears more revealing clothes (shorts and vest tops are common here because it’s hot) and she has found that she feels more self conscious. She feels more comfortable and more able to be herself in jeans and a t-shirt.
As an adult, I have walked the minefield of insecurity around what to wear and how it looks and to whom I am dressing for. I have never felt comfortable in tight or revealing clothing even though I have, in the past, had the figure for it. I grew up in a very conservative household. I married a wonderful husband who doesn’t care how I look – but whom I want to look good for.
I have met women in the past who have had cosmetic surgery, who spend lots of money on clothes, personal trainers and looking good – because they are worried that their husbands will look elsewhere if they don’t. I’ve often wondered about the mens role in this regard?
I find that feeling empowered as a woman, not what I wear or how I dress or what I look like (although that has a part to play in my empowerment) has more impact on my husband and his wellbeing. If I feel insecure, he feels less sure too…
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