Question: The Cult of Beauty – Ignored Because of My Appearance & Status

Anonymous asked:

Bringing up your old post about how people could care and pray more for the more attractive/popular people? If I’m a victim of that and want to confront the pastor ostracizing and ignoring me, how should I go about it? I feel the pastor would retort back saying “NOT TRUE!” and awkwardly I wouldn’t have anything else to say. (pastor is a fiery-spirited one) I’ve been holding this pain for almost 2-3 years and its been too unbearable. My pride is hurt as a christian and as a person. Please help.

Hey my dear beloved friend, you’re referring to this post:

– Giving A Person More Attention Because They’re Attractive: And We All Do It

I honestly did not expect such a big reaction to it, and it’s been the only one I’ve written on WordPress that ended up on their Frontpage Freshly Pressed.

I have to say first that I’m really sorry this has happened to you, and I’m certain all of us have categorized people like this way more than we’d like to admit.

Please also know that your pastor is most likely not doing this on purpose, because the Cult of Beauty has been so deeply ingrained into our everyday values that it’s almost a reflex.

First let’s recognize the issue, because most people are blind to this. You’ll know that the Cult of Beauty is happening because —

1) Every promo and insert, even church bulletins, use only younger more attractive people.

2) Older people are quarantined to the shelf, and are either demoralized or instantly rejected.

3) Distorted images of “perfect beauty” cause both men and women to have unrealistic expectations, so they pass over great prospects for dating.  It’s simply for physical reasons, but no one wants to admit that.

4) No one knows how to age gracefully.  We learn how to live well, but no one knows how to die well.  Older people try to be young and old at the same time, and this is known as The Idolatry of Youth Culture.

Personally, I really love getting old, but many can’t stand it: so it leads to all kinds of ridiculous immature desperation to stay young.  Hence, fifty year old praise leaders with blonde highlights and skinny jeans.  Just, no.

5) Physicality becomes mood and morality.  In other words, we equate “looking good” with “feeling good” and “being good.”  This causes all kinds of arrogance and depression.

6)  And of course: We pay more attention to attractive people.  We pray more for them.  We go to them first.  We tend to think they’re smarter, better behaved, more spiritual, and that they’ll somehow increase our social cred.

Just as with the bias against introverts, there is an even wider systemic prejudice against less attractive people (by less attractive, I mean according to worldly standards), and the church doesn’t do much better than the world does.  Pastors still make fat-jokes, race-jokes, female-jokes, or do the stuttering voice for Moses or the effeminate voice for Jacob.  And I can’t say I’ve always steered clear of these pitfalls either.  Our culture is just so drenched in insensitivity, we tend to belittle others without even noticing.

The only way to break these barriers is for you to go first, but go graciously.  Be open, honest, real, and loving.  Reach out persistently and patiently until you are heard.  Have grace for others’ lack of grace.  I know that sounds unfair.  And if your pastor continually cuts you out even after you’ve been open with him, then you’re free to change churches.  But stewing in bitterness over rejection will only make things worse.  People like you and I have an uphill battle (I’m an Asian and not so attractive), but it is NO excuse to act out when we’re alienated.  A poor attitude is ugly no matter who it’s coming from.

But more than that: In our rejection, let’s remember the Gospel.  That sounds like a Christianese thing to say, but Jesus was a plainly unattractive man who ultimately became the ugliest one of us all (Isaiah 53:2-3).  On the cross, he hung naked and humiliated (Matthew 27:35).  God, the most beautiful being in the universe, became an impoverished destitute man of sorrows, so that we might become rich in beauty (2 Corinthians 8:9).

This is not a consolation prize, but it is the all-encompassing treasure and purpose and glory of our lives.  None of us can truly attain a perfect beauty on our own no matter how much we try: but Jesus, who was truly beautiful, became ugly so that we might gain the perfect beauty.  What we could never achieve in ourselves, Jesus bestowed for us as a pure gift without conditions.

When you can know this, then while physical rejection certainly still hurts: it will only be a smaller symptom of a broken world that just doesn’t understand true value.  We can have grace for that.  We can find security in Christ first, and then go into the world to display our heart’s true beauty.

And for those who are stuck in the Cult of Beauty — you can remind yourself that the cross of Christ flipped our worldly values upside-down.  True authority is humility.  True glory is sacrifice.  And true beauty begins on the inside, where Christ resides.

All this sounds very ideal, I know.  It will never be easy.  But please do not seek validation from your pastor, or your friends, or your culture, or magazines and music and ads and movies.  These will all come up short, as you already know they are.  Rest in Christ’s love, and then you will have a confident grace for others even when they reject you, whether it’s over your looks or your speech or your personality or you.  Rejection will come and go, but God’s love is our permanent constancy.

Love you my friend, inside and out.  He does too.

— J.S.

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