What role does physical attraction play in courtship/dating?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Unworthy_Servant, Dec 21, 2017.

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  1. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I said Amen to your whole post, but I am going to brag a little. I have the best of both. My wife is a Godly women and still a babe. There are three photos below of her as a child, on our honymoon, and now. We are both 66 years old. Like I said, I just couldn't help it.

    child.png honymoon.png now.png
     
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  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the cart is before the horse and things are all misplaced in your thinking. In real life, attraction plays a HUGE part in whether we give someone our time or attention, or even a second thought, romantically. Godliness is NOT something that can be immediately ascertained. On the contrary, you can only discover that someone is godly after lots of time spent in their company. And let me give you a clue: in real life, if a person is not attracted to the other person then there won't BE any interest to spend time together to learn more about the other.

    Further, godliness is essential, but it isn't everything. There are lots of godly people out there that I would hate to be married to! Maybe they've got the personality of a wet blanket or maybe they have eccentric mannerisms, or they are just terrible conversationalists, or maybe they are dim witted - I couldn't bear to be married to a stupid person with whom I couldn't have intelligent conversation. Likewise, I'm a jovial loud-laughing jokester... if she hates to laugh... marrying her would be like getting sent to prison! Or in the vein of this thread, maybe they're just really ugly: I'm not sure I'd want the hassles of being married to a "beautiful person," but I sure as heck don't want to gag on vomit in the back of my throat whenever she comes in for a kiss.

    I'm not sure why this is so hard to figure out: We are embodied beings, our bodies and physical tastes matter. Godliness is very important, but it isn't the sole criteria. Besides, when I hear people talking about "godliness" in a spouse, it seems like they're talking about a seasoned saint who's endured a lifetime of sanctification and refinement. Ha! Who of us when we were in our 20s took Jesus nearly as seriously as we do now, decades later? Perhaps speaking of "godliness" in a young person we should content ourselves by simply noting that they're on the right path and moving in the right direction.
     
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  3. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    My wife knows many people who held out for years for the perfect spouse. They never got married, because there was always some small little thing wrong with the prospective suitor. What they really wanted was the end product, not the beginning product. Totally. Completely. From. Mars. Unrealistic.
     
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  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Ben's comments are really to the point. Just because scripture tells us to marry "in the Lord" does not mean that godliness is the only factor in choosing a spouse. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just being naive and unrealistic. Lane's observation about those who wait for someone who is perfectly pious is likewise all too true. I have a younger friend who continually complains about many fine young women being "immature", but he does not seem to grasp that they will probably grow out of such "immaturity" when they get older.
     
  5. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah. That's endemic in the unbelieving culture at large. I've wondered why so many unmarried couples hang on so long when one of them would like to be married. I can't imagine dating, let alone shacking up with someone for years and years and hearing from her 'I'm just not sure.' Years ago I asked an employee why he was still with his live in girlfriend when she didn't want to get married and he did. He said she loved him but her parents got divorced and didn't want that to happen to them. Post-modern logic. Commit to not commit in order to avoid failing to commit.
     
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  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Another thought experiment: (and I am doing this because it draws out the implication of a claim).

    Let's say there are three possible wife-options. All three are equally godly, etc. Option A is super attractive. Option B is not. Option C is similar to B, but slightly less attractive. Clearly Option A is out because that's not spiritual. Would it then be sin to choose B over C?
     
  7. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Sounds like some have been listening to that old Jimmy Soul song...

     
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  8. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Indeed, having both you are blessed, Ed! Your wife is stunning and your not bad looking, either!;)
     
  9. Berean

    Berean Puritan Board Doctor

    I wanted to post that, Ben, but figured you had to be a pastor to get away with it.
     
  10. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    She is! Me, not so much. I got the better end of the deal to be sure. But she still loves me. God has been good to me in many ways. Our lives have seen some difficulty to be sure. But, we adore each other still.

    Thanks for the compliment.
     
  11. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    If all things are equal pick the one you are most attracted to. No contest.

    PS. To not choose A is Manichean to the core. You're a heretic. So there.
     
  12. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Generally speaking man and woman fall in love before marriage. To fall in love there is likely some chemical/emotional connection which produces a mutual physical attraction. Therefore the problem is solved.

    I never knew anyone who ever fell in love with someone they didn't find physically attractive. Perhaps somewhere they were mentally conscious that this person was not generally considered attractive but their chemical reaction overrode that.

    I find it amazing (in a non-judgemental way) which posts get the most reactions in this forum.
     
  13. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Another thought experiment.

    Think of yourself born into this world as a girl without beauty. You grow up increasingly conscious of that. You have the same longings to be loved as the beautiful girls around you -- around whom you grow up to feel ashamed and inferior. The world is always telling you, in every movie, advertisement, on every billboard, that beauty makes women more valuable. Even the 'spokespeople' for telling us that beauty is not what really matters are so stunning, and spend so many hours and so much money presenting that way, that they only clarify a feeling that physically unattractive women are not as important. You also overhear conversations like this one between Christian men, where you feel you are in a class whom it is thought 'nauseating' to kiss. Where your chances of being married boil down to your looks. And you realise that no matter how beautiful your character is, how intelligent you are, how gifted in other ways, you will never be as valuable even to Christian men as a girl with beauty.

    That thought experiment leaves me in tears ... but I have cried in real life with friends who have watched others marry all around them while they remain single. And I have never felt in the 'beautiful' camp myself.

    Of course physical attraction needs to exist in a marriage. I agree with that completely. But three women never are all equally godly with all things equal in other ways except for their physical shape (as Lane pointed out earlier.) Their godliness takes very particular shape in their distinct personalities and gifts; and their attractiveness does too. If the only differences one can conceive between three "godly" women boil down to physical ones, and the only way we ourselves are attracted between people are conceived of as physical -- one must be blind to humans in general, not just women in particular. We don't choose our friends that way. And your wife is a lifelong friend. I'm sure there must have been some glitch in the way some things here have been phrased here.

    But there are other relationships with women besides marriage, and I think placing value on physical attraction is more common sense and less a factor to feel guilty about if those other relationships are valued -- if one is treating women with dignity, worthy of attention for those godly, personal gifts, across a range of relationships. Single women also need men in their lives -- so Paul tells Timothy to treat women like sisters and mothers.

    Lastly Christ is drawn to the godly woman you find unattractive. Even physically -- he died to be united to her. And He sees far more clearly than anyone. This doesn't mean people should pursue and marry without physical attraction, but they should realise that maybe God hides much of great value from the world in the area of physical beauty too. And I think it is right to always speak with consciousness of that.

    "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."
     
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  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    True, but I was writing it out in line with the OP.
     
  15. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    In this scenario, does the person love all three wife-options equally or does love make any difference whatsoever in choice? To me, love is very much part of marriage and an obvious part of any decision. Either the person loves all three equally which suggests none of them are to be chosen for marriage or the person deems love unnecessary when choosing a spouse which would call to attention other concerns.
     
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Every other factor is equal: love, piety, etc. The only differing variable is looks.
     
  17. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    In that case, I would need to know how the one who was choosing a wife actually looked, because it's impractical to chose a candidate who is much more attractive or unattractive than one's self. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  18. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Heidi, just so. I was thinking how to weigh in on this with something of what you expressed, and you did it so beautifully. Thank you!

    A person is a whole-package and mysterious--greater than the sum of the parts. When a man loves a woman, for instance, he says "I choose you," even as God does when He elects. God does not love us because we are the most lovely or righteous or holy. He loves us because He loves us. But, though He does not choose us due to faith or works foreseen, He does choose us, not randomly or without reason, which would render Him irrational, but for reasons known to Him, mysteriously and wonderfully.

    When a man chooses a woman, the total package is in view. Of course, there's physical attraction and a delight in her beauty and loveliness. The beauty is not that of the world, simply, as many seductresses who are condemned biblically are quite alluring physically. The qualities of the loved one cannot properly be abstracted but are part of the mystery of the whole, addressing why those who are my friends are my friends, my wife is my wife, etc.

    The reality of this is seen if my wife were to ask me, "why do you love me?" and I begin to expostulate all her virtues, only to be met with a sigh indicating the inadequacy of all my reasons for loving (I will still love her if she loses something, which is why we vow as we do in marriage), resolved only when I, in half desperation, confess "I love you because I love you!" Ah, there's what she was waiting for. God loves us because He loves us. We love one another as friends and spouses analogously.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  19. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

     
  20. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    Forgive the un-Puritan-bluntness here, but whether I am ugly or fair, I sure hope my husband *sees* me like the the bride in Song of Solomon. She could have been a garish troll, for all we know, but that woman sure felt like a queen!

    Character and traits are important, but there is Biblical warrant to be in a relationship that is mutually pleasing in more than just spiritual matters. Especially when it comes to intimate matters...we as Christians understand it as the reflection and culmination of our emotional and spiritual connection as husband and wife. All physical and spiritual and emotional elements are at play, and build one another up, as they should.

    The more I fall in love with my husband as a spiritual, emotional, intellectual partner, I promise you that I have found him more attractive and becoming (physically) as we have grown together. It's a wonderful cycle of building-up that occurs, and a natural, God-ordained one at that (if I may be so bold).
     
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  21. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Quite so, Jo!

    Nothing at all un-Puritan about your post, but, I would say, Puritanism at its best. I think here especially of Leland Ryken's treatment (in Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were) of "Marriage and Sex."

    I think part of the "I choose you" dynamic that I discussed above is the continual decision on the part of the husband for the wife and his growing in love for her: spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, physically, sexually, etc. And for her, the continual saying of "yes, I accept you, I receive you," to his "I choose you."

    I take your post as giving beautiful expression to that wifely dynamic of assent to and acceptance of who your husband is and what he has to offer to you.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  22. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for that. I think I partly meant to insinuate that the Song of Solomon has more 'worldly' wisdom in it to offer relationships than the mainly-Christ-church relationship that "Puritans" often kept focus on (at least in popular view, and by by my own experience, at least many today do, even if the Puritans themselves perhaps were not as cut-and-dry as assumed). I might look into the book you suggested...seems like an interesting perspective.
     
  23. AnnaBanana

    AnnaBanana Puritan Board Freshman

    I love everything about this post!!!
     
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