How Should Christians Think About Plastic Surgery?
We’re talking about Christians and plastic surgery on the podcast this week. About a week or so ago, my wife and I were walking through a crowd of people, and for whatever reason, I just started recognizing that I had walked by four or five women who clearly weren’t a part of the same group. It wasn’t like they were in a group of people that were walking. But I walked by a group of women, four or five of them, who all looked very plasticky. They looked the same. You could tell all of them were looking at the same sort of pictures of what they wanted to look like. You could tell they had had plastic surgery, and you need to know I am clueless about these things. My wife and my daughter make fun of me. They’ll be talking about somebody on television or talking about somebody in a picture, and they’ll say, boy, you can really tell she’s had some work done. And I’m like, oh, how can you tell? And they’re like, oh, dad, or oh, honey, come on. And they try to explain it to me. But for whatever reason, I’m just not always very dialed in. But with these women that we passed in this crowd, it was just very obvious, in everything about their face, indicated that they had had some very specific work done and that they were all trying to look the same. And I just said to Lauren, I say, do you know what, it is just obvious that we are living in a plastic world.
A Plastic World
We are living in a world where there are loads of women who have just decided that they are going to change their appearance, and there’s momentum behind that. When one person does it, the second person does it, and just getting growing numbers of people who are doing it. We’re actually living in a nation where more than sixteen billion a year is spent on this kind of plastic surgery, and it’s not neutral. There is there’s a real danger in it. There is danger in the hearts of women in their own contentment. Contentment with who they are and how they look, and being disgruntled and frustrated. There’s danger in men as they behold these women as they look at them, and we’re training men not to be grateful for the women that they have and to be grateful not for the wife of their youth but to be grateful for this false fake plastic standard. And so, there are real dangers of living in this plastic world, and yet, at the same time, I need to be honest with you and say there are many blessings of living in a world where there is plastic surgery. Here I’m speaking specifically about reconstructive surgery. Surgery that allows for the correction of other kinds of surgeries and accidents where there has been physical damage that has been done. And reconstructive surgery to the body allows there to be a certain return to normalcy. We’re very, very thankful when there is surgery that can undo damage that has been incurred because of disease or trauma or surgery or something like that. I want to be very clear on the podcast this week when I talk about plastic surgery. I’m not talking about this kind of reconstructive surgery. I’m talking about cosmetic surgery. I’m talking about elective plastic surgery, where you are intentionally seeking to change your features or enhance your features or something like that. We need to think about how Christians should consider this issue. I want to be clear that there is an issue of Christian freedom here. The Bible is our authority, not the opinions of human beings. The Bible stops short of saying plastic surgery is wrong. You should never have cosmetic surgery; you should never do it. The Bible stopped short of saying those things. And so, we don’t want to lay burdens on people that God does not give to them. And yet there are biblical principles that help us think through these matters. And in fact, even though this is a large conversation on the podcast this week, I just want to give you four considerations that you should consider as a person who wants to think biblically and Christianly about whether to have elective cosmetic plastic get surgery.
Remember Whose You Are
The first consideration is the consideration of whose you are. You need to remember that the Bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. In Psalm 139, the Bible makes clear that God knit you together in your mother’s womb. You have the body parts that God intends for you to have. And even as you get older, even as your body changes, God is still in sovereign control over who you are and how you look. It is his opinion about you that is most relevant, not the opinions of a secular society and not even your own opinion. As you look in the mirror, there is a real fact that as Christians, one of the things that we need to do is excepting sin, this isn’t relevant for sin, but excepting sin, we need to become comfortable with who God has made us to be, we need to be thankful for who God has made us to be. We need to trust God with how we look and so there is a consideration of whose you are.
Next, there is a consideration of vanity in 1 Peter 3:3, which says, “Your adornment must not be merely external braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Now we need to be clear about what this passage does not say. The passage does not say that it’s wrong to braid your hair or that it’s wrong to wear gold jewelry. It doesn’t say that what it says is that those things should not be what adorns you; those things should not be the focus that is saying you should not be a vain person saying what should adorn you as your gentle and quiet spirit. It’s saying what should characterize your beauty is your Christlikeness, who you are as a person who loves Jesus. Even though it’s not always wrong to care about our appearance, there is a certain goodness of that reality. But we shouldn’t adorn ourselves with this kind of thing. And so, we need to ask ourselves, am I being a vain person? Vanity is a mark of pride. Contentment is a mark of humility. We need to consider as we’re thinking about plastic surgeries, we’re thinking about cosmetic surgery. How vain am I being here? How self-obsessed am I being here? This isn’t anything that somebody can judge about another person; this is you and your heart before the Lord. And you need to be honest with the Lord about that.
Another consideration is the consideration of stewardship. Listen, cosmetic surgery is expensive. And in your family budget, every dollar that you spend on cosmetic surgery is not a dollar that you could spend doing something else. This is also not a thing that we can judge about other people, you know, your discretionary income. I know my discretionary income. Everybody, whether they make ten thousand a year or a million dollars a year, everybody has the little things that they make room for in their budget, for people who make a lot of money. They have more discretionary income to spend on things that are expensive, like cosmetic surgery. This isn’t something that we can judge others, but this is something that we need to take stock of in our own lives and our own pocketbook. What is damaging about my stewardship and the kingdom of Christ, if I spend money on cosmetic surgery, what other opportunities am I missing out on? What other things am I am I losing sight of as I spend money on this? In your pocketbook and in my pocketbook, money is a zero-sum game like I what I spend over here; I don’t get to spend on something else. We don’t have unlimited resources, and so we need to be careful and good stewards of our money.
Who is Your Master?
A final consideration is the consideration of mastery. Here’s what I mean about that. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, the apostle says, “I won’t be mastered by anything.” I don’t let other things control me. Listen, if you’re paying attention, you know that a lot of times, plastic surgery can be a matter of addiction. People give themselves over. They don’t know how to stop. They obsess over this. They start, and they keep doing it. And this is a mark of someone who has been mastered by their appearance and who has been mastered by external surgical interventions into their appearance, and that is wrong, and we need to watch out for it. We
need to admit that it is a danger to many people who start with cosmetic surgery, and we need to guard against it. I stopped short of giving a simple yes or no to the question of whether a Christian should have cosmetic surgery because the Bible stopped short of giving a simple yes or no, but we all need to guard our hearts and check ourselves. How am I thinking about what God thinks of me? How am I considering the issue of vanity? How am I considering my stewardship? And how am I considering anything having mastery over me except Jesus Christ? The answers to those questions, as we apply them to the issue of cosmetic surgery, will help us get into a place of faithfulness on this as believers.