Jonathan Edwards claimed that beauty in art should contain moral and aesthetic/technical excellence. When we look at beautiful photographs, art, and sculpture, we feel that his wise words were completely true! Our hearts and minds are clearly drawn to beautiful things that are made up of moral and aesthetic excellence.
But what about those “things” that do not promote aesthetic excellence? How do we see beauty in someone that does not have symmetry, no “technical excellence,” no beautiful mix of colors, no perfect design of abstract shapes?
Jonathan Edwards also speaks to the purpose of our beauty. He says that true beauty must be filled with both a minor theme showing the brokenness of this world and major theme displaying the story of redemption.
Some individuals are born with disabilities that can manifest itself in something unusually adorable; however, the reality of many distorted bodies is much more grotesque to the eye. Yet, in these broken faces and bodies, God can and does allow us to see beauty. These glimpses of beauty actually defy all laws of art and moralism in our world. Could this be one of God’s most remarkable ways for Him to reveal His very own beauty to us? What if the most despicably disabled people on earth were shown to us to remind us of the minor theme of the abnormality of the revolting world and point us to the major theme of redemption? How much more beautiful then would our Creator be in drawing together His diverse community of people in order to slowly reveal His artistic beauty to each of us. Wouldn’t this realization in itself make you long to be in the company of the most physically, mentally, and intellectually suffering creature of the Lord? I believe the beauty of the Lord found in these often grotesquely viewed people in the eyes of the world is the intense feeling that drowns out all the initial feelings and doubts therefore leaving God’s church longing for more.
“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else ‘in the image of God,’ then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or a beautiful sunset.”
– Mike Mason
Although Lizzie Velasquez, “the ugliest woman,” is an incredible motivational speaker, her search for truth and beauty in life is actually quite empty. She claims: “The only way I could show these people that they weren’t going to become my definition and my truth was the somehow make myself better.” Through this thoughts, Ms. Velasquez misses the entire point of truth when seeking to make herself beautiful through her actions. She must instead watch and see that God can and will expose His beauty through His Creation of her.
This search for beauty in the world around us must be so much more than simply finding things that have aesthetic excellence. We must be searching for things that remind us of the tragedy of this broken world and point us in hope of the complete redemption of our Lord’s Creation. This is the beauty that God reveals to us through the lives and testimonies of so many individuals touched by disability.
“They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
– Isaiah 61:3b