Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Less superficial than the last one, I promise!

So, to make up for a fluffy post about clothes, and in light of our recent discussion about modesty, I thought I would bring up another appearance-related topic. My RS lesson last Sunday was about a BYU devotional given last fall by Douglas L. Callister of the 70, entitled Our Refined Heavenly Home. I thought it was pretty interesting. Elder Callister describes his remarks as an attempt to

[P]eek behind the veil that temporarily separates us from our heavenly home and paint a word picture of the virtuous, lovely, and refined circumstances that exist there. I will speak of the language, literature, music, and art of heaven, as well as the immaculate appearance of heavenly beings, for I believe that in heaven we will find each of these in pure and perfected form.

The entire devotional was pretty interesting, and I definitely took some "action items" away from it. However, I was intrigued/puzzled by the section on appearance, which begins with this anecdote:

Many years ago an associate of mine decided he would please his wife by sharing with her a very specific compliment each night as he arrived home. One night he praised her cooking. A second night he thanked her for excellence in housekeeping. A third night he acknowledged her fine influence on the children. The fourth night, before he could speak, she said, “I know what you are doing. I thank you for it. But don’t say any of those things. Just tell me you think I am beautiful.”

She expressed an important need that she had. Women ought to be praised for all the gifts they possess that so unselfishly add to the richness of our lives, including their attentiveness to their personal appearance. We must not “let ourselves go” and become so casual—even sloppy—in our appearance that we distance ourselves from the beauty heaven has given us. Every man has the right to be married to a woman who makes herself as beautiful as she can be. Every woman has the right to be married to a man who keeps himself clean, physically as well as morally, and takes pride in his appearance.

Obviously, Elder Callister feels strongly that appearances matter. I don't disagree with him, but he never says why. Also, his story doesn't sit quite right with me, either. Again, it's not that I disagree with the premise that a couple telling each other that they are beautiful is appropriate and good... but why should complimenting your spouse on their superficial appearance be more important than their actual accomplishments? Also, I was struck by the dichotomy that women should "make themselves beautiful" while men should be "clean".

Maybe I'm just reading it too hostilely :) And really, I did enjoy this talk a lot. And if there's discussion on it (which I hope there is!) I don't mean for it to be about only this aspect. Any thoughts?