This is a topic that will take me a few blog posts to address due to the amount of thought I’ve put into it and the fact that if I put it into one post it would probably scare away any readers by it’s length. I feel that an introduction is necessary because the topic of Beauty, especially as addressed in this way, is not common, in fact is very rare. The scary part of the lack of material on this specific angle of the subject is that I am largely working on my own and have no real authority to check myself by. I don’t have any maps to show me how far off the trail I have strayed.
How this topic first interested me was actually the result of a Facebook note by a fellow classmate where he spoke of beauty and how there is no absolute standard (in his opinion). I made the suggestion that perhaps God is the absolute standard of beauty. I continued to think about this, and then early on in the Spring semester asked my professor if he had any books he could recommend on God in relation to Beauty, and he told me he didn’t, but that I could write my term paper on it. I purchased some books on beauty to see what qualities other people have seen in Beauty and to see if they relate to God in any way, if perhaps beauty could be a reflection of God.
Why I think this topic of beauty is important is first of all because beauty, and our ability to appreciate it, is a result of the creative act of God. The fact that I have an aesthetic response to a sunrise, or a pretty face is because God made me to. And reading the Old Testament, one can see that God values beauty. You see this in the Old Testament in the making of the Tabernacle where God speaks of skilled artists to make the tabernacle beautiful. Quite frequently the inspired author of the Old Testament will mention the beauty or handsome appearance of a character, even though that seems to have no real relation with the person’s actions, whether good or bad.
Beauty and worship are inextricably linked to each other. To worship is to ascribe worth to something, and to call something beautiful is ascribing a specific type of worth to it. Calling something beautiful means that it is worth our interest, our attention. Beautiful music is able to tell us something about God and to tell others something about our attitude towards God. If we strive for beauty in our music, art, and other aspects of the worship service, it would glorify God by showing we believe He is worth the effort it takes to make something beautiful. Making a beautiful work of art or performing a beautiful piece of music is not easy, we all know that, but to aim for that is to say to God, “You are worth this hard work. You are worthy of being worshipped with beauty.” Think about it, men never give their girlfriends or wives ugly jewelry, but beautiful jewelry. Why? Because we’re saying they’re worth that much, and in order to perfectly compliment their beauty a beautiful object must be given. In the same way, if God is worth everything, to worship him with ugly music or mediocre music doesn’t make any sense. And, if God is beautiful, then it only makes sense that we’d use something that reflects Him to worship Him, namely, beauty.
Thus, we need to determine what beauty is.