A Theology of Aesthetics

The Bible and Culture | 7/16/2019 | Staff
n.king (Posted by) Level 3
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Prov. 11.22 says this—- “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” To really appreciate the incongruity the writer is pointing out, one must remember that pigs were considered very unclean animals, and no Jew should come in contact with, much less eat their meat in any form. This is why the story of the Gerasene demoniac in the Gospels would have been humorous to early Jews— well of course unclean spirits would ask to go indwell unclean animals— it was a perfect fit. But the writer of the proverb mentioned above is talking about two things that don’t belong together— beauty and immorality.

And this raises very interesting ethical questions about the combination of beauty with a whole host of things— for instance, truth (both theological and ethical), and love. Beauty without personal integrity in belief and behavior is just wrong— wrong in so many ways. Beauty after all is a gift from God, and the appreciation of beauty is something encouraged in the Scriptures— for instance the beauty of God’s creation (see e.g. Psalm 8). I think it is fair to say that in the new creation, and in God’s original plan for us all, he intended for beauty, truth and love to be found together, to be mutually reinforcing. By contrast, especially dangerous in a fallen world is when beauty is found together with cruelty rather than love, and lies instead of truth, and immorality instead of upright behavior. Beauty can allure and beguile people to do all kinds of wicked things when the person in question is not a good and truthful person. An immoral person is prepared to kill and steal for beautiful objects of art and culture. But God never intended for those kinds of values to...
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