Why I wanted to marry an ugly girl as a teenager…


Rachel Held Evans, a thoughtful progressive evangelical woman who is doing a year of biblical womanhood for a book project, and exploring the bizarre world of conservative ‘biblical womanhood’, has a very interesting post about female beauty and the way some ‘conservative’ Christians approach it. I must say I’m not in that segment of christianity anyway, and that I never fully understood how the described mentality can be claimed to be Christian, but who am I but a stranger on this planet… Anyway, for what it’s worth I can give my view on these things, even if it’s as alien to some as conservative christian gender roles are to me.

Let me first say that I am mostly very annoyed by the sexist way this culture defines the worth of a woman by her beauty (according to standards that are alien to me) and that I’m always surprised to see when some Christians seem to teach essentially the same. It seems superficial, sexist and very unrealistic to me. Surely, women are beautiful (if they don’t put on too much make-up and dress like Lady Gaga that is) and God created them that way, but no-one stays young, and whatever our obsession with youth and beauty in this culture may be it won’t change a thing, and our artificial ways of keeping up the appearance are not healthy at all. And there is more to beauty than this.

To quote Rachel:

I often struggle with what appear to be misogynistic elements of the Levitical purity codes, of ancient Israeli wartime conduct, of the letters of Paul and the doctrines of the early church. But in this case, the misogyny is new. The ancient writers of Scripture seem to affirm what all women know –

That our bodies change as we get older.

That our bodies change when we bear children.

That our bodies change when we get sick.

That our bodies change as we experience joy, pain, life, death, victory, heartache, and time.

And frankly, the suggestion that men are too weak to handle these realities is as emasculating as it is unbiblical.

That last sentence is very important. To me it’s very sexist, not just to women, but to men, to suggest that men are too weak to handle this aging and loss of youth in their wives. Maybe men are if the world teaches it to us, I guess it’s a very Freudian idea which has parallels in certain muslim views on men and woman. But by no means there is anything biblically justifiable in it, nor is it Christlike!!

Rachel ended with a question that sounds just too silly to me to seriously consider.

“Guys – What is your reaction to the suggestion that a wife’s changing body incites men to cheat?”

My reaction on her blog was:

I’m tired of this kind of sexism towards men, as if we’re only interested in sexy bodies and not in a life companion to share everything with. My reaction would be that you’ve never loved you wife in the first place if you cheat for such a reason, but that you’ve projected some ‘smoking hot fantasy wife’ onto the woman you married. Which is not very ‘biblical’ at all, and very superficial and ‘worldly’.

I mean it, if you cheat on your wife because she’s aging and becoming less beautiful, you probably never loved her, only her beauty and what it stood for to you.

Now on to my strange title: my thoughts also went back to some Christian summer youth camp long ago, one to which I don’t have much positive memories. What I do remember is that I was sleeping in a room with a lot of guys who were talking about girls all the time in a not so very ‘christian’ way (not the way the leaders of the camp would have liked…). I can remember some of them making tasteless and not even funny jokes about a girl with unshaved legs. I still feel ashamed I didn’t speak up to silence them. I hated the whole atmosphere of ‘we boys together’, and was sometimes fairly disgusted. I couldn’t look at girls that way, I saw people like me who needed frienship and honesty, and respect. At that age (17 or so) I was still a lonely boy who’d never had a girlfriend though I was good at being friends with girls that I’d never fall in love with.

So about then I had completely crossed over to the other side in the war between the sexes. I saw the way girls, people like me I liked to be friends with, were supposed to conforn to unhealthy standards, and I saw them being hurt by it on the one side, and boys who kicking on playboy posters on the other side. Yes I’m not only moderately feminist from time to time, but even a closet misandrist (who do we have a word for mysogyny but not a male version?) who wants to live in an asexual world when I see some of those abberations of ‘masculinity’.

At that moment I made the decision to marry an ugly girl. I really did. Because it’s just plainly dishonest when people who are less ‘beautiful’ don’t find a lover to share their life with! It’s just immature when the beautiful girls get more chances.

(oh, and I never thought of myself as beautiful nor ugly, it’s always been a non-issue to me.)

I suppose it’s not exactly the average teenage boys dream about girls, but I was very serious. I might have been a struggling christian on some fronts at that age, but I knew love was more important than looks, and I knew that the beauty standards of our world are just not fair. (Later on I wrote the song ‘unfair competition’ about it, you can listen and download it at my bandcamp site)

And it’s not that I’m not very interested in female beauty, I am. That’s one of the reasons why I hate porn so much, because it defiles something so beautiful… But it didn’t seem right to add ‘beautiful’ to whatever list of requirements a future wife should have. It felt kinda evil even… Very unchristlike.

I guess I was a radical (that’s what they wanted us to be on the camp anyway, ‘radical’ christian youth) even though I’ve never talked much about this to people.

And I didn’t succeed anyway: my wife is kinda beautiful. Not only when puts on make-up or pretty clothes, but also when she’s just woken up, or walks around the house in the most uncool old shabby clothes. If you don’t find a woman beautiful in those moments, you don’t find her beautiful, period.

And I do even have a very beautiful baby daughter right now.

And now I kinda wonder if it’s possible anyway to love an ugly woman. Not because ugly people are unlovable, but because we learn to see the beauty in people when we love them. No human being created in Gods image can be really ugly if you love them. There is a beauty that goes deeper than outward looks, and that’s the real beauty. But it might require another way of looking, more in line with the way God looks…

Open our eyes to Love, God

shalom

Bram

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7 responses to “Why I wanted to marry an ugly girl as a teenager…

  1. Brilliant post, Mr. Brambonius. I still don’t understand why more people don’t understand, “What’s wrong with porn?” We are conditioning men to become erotic pigs. And there is increasingly more “girl-fantasy” type porn.

    The problem is hitting women, as well. More women are looking at porn (it’s suggested that about 30% of porn consumption is now amongst women); more articles are being published about women ‘getting off’ on young, buff guys. Men’s bodies age too – men’s minds age as well.

    We need to get realistic about our imaginations and our fantasies. It’s definitely a bit sick to try to “micro-manage” these things or to dwell in guilt. But on the other hand, it’s rather sickly to engage in imaginitive eroticizations which will distance ourselves from the realities of who our spouses are.

  2. Just stumbled upon your blog this weekend and did some exploring. Already a fan of your work! 🙂 This post in particular is fabulous — you really honor all women with what you’ve written here and as one of them, I appreciate it. It is always refreshing to encounter men who neither buy into nor promote misogyny.

  3. So, I am Christian. I look at girls as “people like me”. 35 year old, doctor with an athletic body and still single. The problem is lately I have begun to face the reality that unless I flirt with the girl, unless I allude to her body parts she will never ever consider spending time with me. I will always be the stranger and other guys will be the friends. I have tried being “pure” for 18 years and have ended up being indifferently alone. Time to change I guess.

  4. Mark Lee, please don’t change. I’m a christian woman and I am sure any woman be honoured to marry a Godly man like you. I have been dreaming to marry a pure man my whole life. You are something very special, please don’t ever change. I will pray that you marry a woman that has all the qualities you are looking for. All the best.

  5. I just wanted to say that as a young woman, I have always felt very lonely and sad when I see the way men rate women, because I have never felt I have fit into society’s stereotype of beauty. But as a religious woman this post made me so happy and filled me with hope, I didn’t know such incredible men existed in the world until now. God bless you and your wife and make all your desires come true. Thank you so much.

  6. As a man, I think looks are just as important as character.
    I agree that the world puts 100% of their attention on looks.
    I want a woman that looks good to me, has a good character, and is christian.
    I know I am a ‘handsome’ man, according to many, I love the Lord, and I have a good character; yet also I was never selected by any woman because of those women not really pursuing the Lord.
    Most of the time it wasn’t even me making the decision, but them. They didn’t want to be with someone that lived in a close relationship with the Lord, because they couldn’t keep up with me.
    The Lord was my everything, and still means a whole lot to me, and has a big say in my life.

    In my opinion being a handsome christian is the hardest, because I need to find, AND a woman that I find physically attractive (not perfect, but attractive), AND feel an emotional connection with, AND see spiritual fruit grow from her.

    The place I was living in, I could see none of that.
    In fact, the women who went out clubbing learned what it was to put makeup on, and to look beautiful. They also were skinny and attractive looking. But the girls at church all were ugly and unattractive to me, some because they were born that way, some because they just never invested any effort in their looks.

    So, I moved away, far away.
    And only recently saw the direct relationship between physical beauty, and unfaithfulness.
    All my ‘ugly’ friends are still married. And all my ‘beautiful’ friends are divorced, or have lived with a man without marrying and are separated from them, and even many others.

    I still put 30% importance on looks, 30% on personality, and 30% on spirituality. Someone that’s not a christian, is a definite ‘no’.
    Someone that I can’t understand, or who is sarcastic, is a definite ‘no’, because I don’t jive with that!
    Someone can have an average body, but who is overweight is totally unappealing to me. I want my woman to take care of her body!
    How else will she take (good) care of mine, and my children?

    I say it is ok for wanting physical attraction. It is not ok to marry someone you feel no attraction for, if you know you’re longing for someone with attraction. You should marry someone that fits you.
    The bible talks about unequally yoked, but that goes in many fields.
    Age too. Don’t have a too big age or culture gap, because it brings additional problems that not everyone is able to deal with!

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