BEAUTY IS AS BEAUTY DOES
What if you were to wake up one morning to find that you had married a stranger?
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Have you heard the statement “Beauty is as beauty does?” It is especially true in marriage. It is a bonus if external beauty exist, but what matters in the long run is what one does in the marriage.
You may now kiss the bride...?
Jacob was the inspiration for the cartoon above. Of course Jacob, son of Isaac, had been acquainted with Leah but he was shocked to find out the following morning that he had married her (Genesis 29:25). He was stuck with the wrong wife but according to the Mesopotamian custom he had to live with it. This was before the Mosaic Law but even under the Law of Moses he would have been married, period. Once married according to Deuteronomy 24:1, a man could not get rid of a wife without having Scriptural cause. Being disappointed in how your wife looked did not meet the demand of the Law.
The Law specified the cause for putting away a wife as an “indecent thing” (ABPen). The Greek LXX translation is “a-schemonG809 pragma G4229”; that is, “indecent deed” or for our purpose, “ugly deed.”
At the time of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, Hillel was recognized as the highest authority among the Pharisees.i Hillel said that all brides are beautiful on their wedding day.ii Hence, it would never be a lie to tell her she's beautiful. His gloss teaching (tradition) on Deuteronomy 24:1 was that Moses had meant either aschemon or pragma but did not require both; in other words, God's Law meant one could get rid of a wife for either being indecent or for (any) thing (according to Hillel's Pharisees). Rabbi Aquiba of the house of Hillel said, “Even if he found someone else prettier than she . . .”iii
It's interesting that the Rabbi would say that, since the Spirit of God uses “eu-schemon” as a contradistinction to “a-schemon” in 1 Corinthians 12:22-25. The apostle is comparing the church of Christ to a person's unified body parts. All parts of the body are needed; some are presentable publicly and some are not. “And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [a-schemon; or indecent] have more abundant comeliness [eu-schemon]” (verse 23). The Aramaic Bible in Plain English reads, “And those which we think are shameful in the body, we increase greater honor to these and for those that are contemptible we make greater attire.”
“Comely” (eu-schemon] means according to Thayer, “charm or elegance of figure, external beauty, decorum, modesty, seemliness; of external charm, comeliness.” Now Rabbi Aquiba was being consistent since he believed that Moses had given permission to get rid of an ugly looking wife by separating the word “a-schemon” from “thing.” But he and his master Hillel were separating unscripturally “indecent” from the word “thing” (pragma, deeds). It wasn't ugly in external appearance but certain ugliness in actions. Hence, my subject's title “Beauty is as Beauty Does”!
Command for Pretty Behavior. “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). “Done decently”: Ginomai G1096 eu-schemonosG2156. Darby's Version translates this as, “But let all things be done comelily and with order.” The Baptist scholar John Gill felt that this command not only applies to the immediate chapter's context for assembly activities but to the entire epistle up to this point.iv It appears that he may be right since the summary command is regarding behavior and Paul has dealt with behavior throughout the chapters but will change in the next verse to doctrinal belief in the resurrection.
Not only should the church behave comely towards each other but would it not also help in a successful marriage. If divorce was allowed under Moses for uncomely behavior, would it not be good for a serious husband and a serious wife to consider what is pretty behavior?
“Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9,10). These behaviors are listed in Romans 1:26-32 alongside the “unseemly” (a-schemosuneG808). None of these behaviors are conducive to a successful marriage.
(1) We “say the same thing,... and be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion” (1:10). This is the responsibility of marriageds, “to be one.”
(2) We are fellow laborers. “So that neither the planter is anything, nor the waterer; but God the giver of the increase. But the planter and the waterer are one; but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (3:7,8). The thought should not be, she or he is an addition to my body, but each contributes to our body.
(3) We are to be stewards of God in our home and to our family; we imitate our model Paul (4:17; 11:1).
(4) Make only good associations. "Evil associations corrupts good habits” (15:33, Darby; 5:9). Liaisons are always dangerous.
(5) Pay due benevolence to one another (6:8; 7:5).
(6) “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (8:13). Always consider the other one.
(7) “For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (9:19). Be a servant in pleasing the other.
(8) “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (10:24). This is the love that Jesus demonstrated for His bride, the church (Ephesians 5).
(9) “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God” (11:3). If there's a conflict in the marriage, ask yourself, “What is my number?”
(10) “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity” (13:13). Love is defined in chapter 13.
“Beauty is as beauty does?” It is especially true for both husband and wife in marriage.
- from “Marriage Made In Heaven” by Gaylon West
THROW OUT THE LIFELINE
ii (Talmud, Ketubot 16b-17a). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_and_Shammai#cite_note-6.
iv John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.