“Did Sarah Palin have breast augmentation surgery, more commonly known as a boob job?”
That question came across my news radar last week sometime but I simply dismissed the ‘news story’ as political provocativeness and general nonsense. But then I stumbled across this article by David Gibson called “Sarah Palin’s Breasts Are Real; Not So With Growing Number of Faithful”. Of course I was intrigued.
The main essence of the article is that our society has become increasingly comfortable with cosmetic surgery. This trend also includes many Christians, particularly Conservative Christians. He gives numerous examples, even citing Joyce Meyer as having work done on her face. Probably the most disturbing was lament from J. Lee Grady in 2004 saying that he knew of a large Pentecostal church where, “all the women on staff — and the wives of all the pastors — have had breast-enhancement surgery.”
Since this blog posting should have something original rather than merely re-posting from some other blog, I do have a significant thought to point out that Gibson did not. Gibson essentially makes the case that Christians do not look on cosmetic surgery with disdain anymore. Cosmetic surgery has become mainstream. After reading his article, and specifically the justifications by Christians that he quotes, I don’t think he’s gone far enough.
It’s not just that Christians are OK with it, it’s that Christians see it as a sign of being a good Christian.
Here are the two main theological values that I hear in their statements and in his article.
1) God wants me to be happy. Even in Joyce Meyer’s quote, a personality who I usually am OK with, she essentially comes to the conclusion that God wants us to be happy and that if making a little adjustment makes you happy, it’s your face so go for it. While I think God wants us to experience Joy, this idea is against two traditional Christian views. One, Jesus tells us not to get tied up in vanity and not to invest in the things of this world because they will all rot and decay (store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, etc….). Cosmetic surgery seems to be the ultimate definition of fleeting. Second, there is a traditional value that this world, and specifically our bodies, do not belong to us but rather belong to God. i.e the whole ‘treat your body as a temple of the Lord’ thing.
2) Material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. One of the subtle but very present theological values is the idea that God blesses Christians with more stuff. Again, Joyce Meyer’s quote says a lot, “I want to look my best for God. So many people have the attitude that if you’re a Christian you’ve got to dress bad, wear an old color, not do anything to your hair, have nothing. It’s no wonder that Christianity is not very attractive.” The logic is essentially that if I’m a better Christian then I will have more stuff and, in this case, look better. Therefore, if I can make myself look better then I must be a better Christian.
Ultimately, Joyce Meyer and this whole line of thinking is missing what actually makes Christianity attractive. The assumption is that the reason people are and should be attracted to Christianity is because of what it can offer in terms of measure of wealth, power and prestige by the worlds standards. That is a fundamental heresy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity becomes truly attractive and meaningful when it rejects the worlds definitions of power, wealth and prestige. That is the Upsideown Kingdom that Jesus taught and lived.