One of my all-time favorite photos of my wife Judy, from 10 February 1984, at a friend’s wedding, about five weeks before we started going out and being an official couple and going from “like like” (best friends) to “love love”!
I swore this passage was about my wife Judy!:
1 Peter 3:3-4 (in my [editor-only] Victorian King James Version)
You are not to adorn yourselves on the outside with braids of hair and gold jewelry and beautiful dresses,
4 but inside, in the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is indeed precious in the sight of God.
Here is the passage in King James Version (you can see how I modified it, using portions of other versions):
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
That is beautiful and dignified, but rather outdated language . . .
Now, let it be noted that this is a very typical Hebraic “compare and contrast,” with the extreme comparison. It’s not to be taken absolutely literally, as some would do, in saying that women can’t wear jewelry or pretty dresses at all, or have a nice hairstyle. God is not against that!: much less, myself. I’m particularly a big fan of eyeliner and eye shadow: which bring out even more the already great beauty of women’s eyes.
Thus, how this is usually interpreted, is, as if saying, “the true or most essential beauty in women does not consist of merely outward things [not bad in and of themselves] — that will rot over time like everything else material — but rather, of infinitely more important inner qualities that don’t fade and perish with time, and which God values far more.”
This was, in fact, what was the clincher in my choosing Judy to be my wife back in 1984 (the best decision I ever made, after becoming a disciple of Christ): her “gentle and quiet spirit” and godliness and care for other human beings. That made me fall in love with her. This is not to minimize at all that Judy is outwardly beautiful and attractive. She certainly is (very much so), and that was not a non-factor in my choosing her! I’m a red-blooded male just like any other guy is.
But the inner beauty is the more important of the two, and that is what God through St. Peter is trying to express in this passage.
I think my wife Judy’s inner qualities can clearly be seen in her face (see the photograph above), but I suppose that is a pretty subjective (and biased) judgment . . . “the eyes are the windows to the soul” etc.