Which is More Beautiful?

Our teenage daughter, Haley, recently returned from a missions trip to Guatemala where she took a picture of this cute little girl. She looks about four-years old to me. Also recently, I took a picture of another four-year old: this clematis, which our now Marine Corps son helped me plant with a home-made copper tubing trellis four years ago. Now as you know, people typically “ooh” and “aah” over things like garden flowers or the Grand Canyon, not poor villagers in Central America. But, let me ask you…

Which is More Beautiful?

Contestant #1, my clematis? Or, contestant #2, a little girl from Guatemala?

Clematis & Little Girl

[Awkward silence…]

You’re thinking: “Weird and creepy. A little girl and a plant aren’t comparable, and why would anyone want to?”

To which I respond: “Correct! – But, why are they incomparable?”

What is Beauty?

Let’s think about how beauty is defined. Artists and designers evaluate beauty in terms of color, texture, form, function, proportions, symmetry, balance, composition, etc. As a web designer, I agree that these are important elements of beauty. But if these are the only elements, then beauty is entirely subjective; it truly is only in the eye of the beholder. So, one beholder might be justified in saying, “The clematis is more beautiful because it is a vibrant pink and the simple symmetry of each eight-petaled flower contrasts nicely with the random, trailing habit of the vine; the little girls is drab and shabby by comparison.”

But, as a Christian, I have to believe that there is something more to beauty than the subjective appreciation of the beholder. There is something objective about beauty because all things were designed by a perfect, creative God. If I may turn the phrase, beauty is in the eye of its Creator.

Continue reading