C. S. Lewis argued that there is a standard for beauty, “We must, then, grant logic to the reality; we must, if we are to have any moral standards, grant to it moral standards too. And there is really no reason why we should not do the same about standards of beauty. There is no reason why our reaction to a beautiful landscape should not be the response, however humanly blurred and partial, to something that is really there” (“De Futilitate”). The rainbow above is beautiful, because just as our morals come from God, so does our beauty. This rainbow is beautiful, because we can see God bleeding through it.
If there is a standard, then there is a right answer to the beauty of the rainbow, such as the colors, or the reminder of the promise that God will never flood the entire earth again (Gen. 9:10-17), but there is also a wrong answer, such if a person thought that the rainbow is beautiful because it reminds them of all the people who were killed in the Flood.
Now, you may ask, “How can there be a standard, when beauty is defined differently in different cultures?” Such as how in Thailand, women with long necks are beautiful, or how the Massi in Kenya think women with stretched earlobes are gorgeous, or how Mauritanian women gain weight in order to be seen as attractive. I would argue, that there are different measures of beauty, because each culture has a magnified view of a trait or body part that they find most attractive, of the beautiful body that God has knit wonderfully together.
There are different measures of beauty; however, I agree with Lewis that there is a standard, there is beauty that we all see-all have in common; additionally, this standard, is connected with morality. For example, is this beautiful?
If you said “Yes,” why? I mean, it as an ugly sight. The blood, the gore, the torture, and death of an innocent man. . . . But, there is also beauty within this. Love. Love of a righteous man, who would die for sinful men. The image of an awestriking story of an innocent man who would take the punishment for billions who deserve death.
However, if you thought that this portrait is beautiful because of the blood and gore, then there is something wrong with your morality.
Beauty stems from God, for He was the one who created it. Some see it, and some see a perverted version of it because of this broken world. But one day, the standard for beauty will become undeniable. Until then, let us be alert, and enjoy the glimpses that we receive of that day. Instead of arguing “what is beautiful,” or trying to make ourselves fit our culture’s measure of it, let us instead enjoy beauty, and remember Who blessed us with it, as we continue to search for Him.
*Inspired from a lecture by Dr. Hunt