Is Physical Attraction Important When Looking for a Spouse?

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There is no doubt that God created men and women to be physically attracted to one another. However, the attractiveness of a man or a woman should also be that which comes from within.

Answer: There is no doubt that God created men and women to be physically attracted to one another. The sexual component in marriage is important for intimacy between husband and wife and for procreation and the survival of the human race. At the same time, arranged marriages—including those in which the couple do not even see each other until the wedding—were the norm in centuries past and are still practiced today in parts of the world.

Solomon described the attraction of the bridegroom for his beloved in chapters 4 and 7 of Song of Songs. He describes her physical beauty and his desire for her. She reciprocates in chapter 8, describing her passion for him and her desire for his embrace. Song of Songs is a beautiful depiction of conjugal love in which physical attraction is a component.

This is not to say that physical attraction is the most important aspect to be considered when looking for a husband or wife. For one thing, beauty should not be defined by the world. That which the world finds beautiful falls well below the standard of beauty described in Scripture. Physical beauty fades with time, but true inner beauty shines forth from a woman who loves God (Proverbs 31:30). Peter encourages women to develop inner beauty that comes from “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” (1 Peter 3:3-5). Outer beauty is fleeting; inner beauty is eternal.

The attractiveness of a man should also be that which comes from within. The most obvious example in Scripture is Jesus, who “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Yet the beauty of His glory and grace, as the incarnate Son of God, shone forth from within Him to all who saw Him. The exact opposite is Lucifer/Satan who is described as “the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). In spite of his outward beauty, Lucifer was the embodiment of evil and ungodliness.

Outward beauty is fleeting, but men and women whose judgment is impaired by sin place undue importance on it. God’s perspective is different. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). A prospective husband or wife should be a genuine, born-again Christian who is growing and maturing in the faith and who is obedient to Christ. Two people having the same purpose in life—to glorify God in all they do—will find that their physical attraction to one another increases daily and lasts for a lifetime.

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