Why We Should Celebrate Beautiful Women
Webb's reaction is worth noting. She was exceedingly gracious, saying that no apology was necessary since Musberger and Herbstreit's comments were not demeaning. As she told Matt Lauer, "I think if he had said something along the line if we were hot or sexy, I think that would be a little bit different." And to a point, I agree with her—calling a woman "beautiful" is not and ought not be viewed as demeaning. What is demeaning is reducing the fullness of her person to physical attributes.
Many of my friends—male and female alike—keep a fairly casual wardrobe. Suits are no longer required for work; tailored dresses and driving gloves are a thing of the past. But all of them—male and female alike—enjoy hearing that they look nice when I remark upon it. A theology of beauty is a good thing to have, and it goes far deeper than the symmetry of a person's face and the fashions they are wearing. Early church fathers referred to God as Beauty itself, and several great contemporary books explore this topic.
Beauty is a strange thing now, existing somewhere in between People magazine and the Bible. Had Webb been a plain, mousy woman her appearance would likely have gone unnoticed. And the issues of self-esteem and popularity and status that come along with image are legion; to explore them would take more space than we have here. Suffice it to say, beauty is a complex issue, and the truest and fullest sense of it takes all of a person into account.
But I think the Scriptures help us appreciate physical beauty rightly. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:28-29), Jesus reminds us of the reality that so often escapes us: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
It is easy to read this passage and focus on what it says about clothes, interpreting it on the level of physical appearance without getting at what goes beneath all of that: We do not need to worry about anything because we are alive in the hands of our Creator, in the beauty of the world he has created. And in his world, all that he has created is good. The lilies of the field are clothed in greater splendor than Solomon! And God's good extravagance makes them that way.