Ethics of Beauty

Mark Sayers has a great story on his blog that demonstrates something I’ve been thinking about a bit before:

Not too long ago after one of my talks, I was approached by a graphic designer with an ethical question. The designer did a lot of work for Churches and Christian conferences; the designer asked me “Is it right for Christians to use stock photography of attractive people in order to promote churches, ministries or Christian events?”

via Stock Photography, The Ethics of Beauty and the Early Church « Mark Sayers.

It’s a fascinating question, and for my mind it strikes directly at a part of the culture’s gospel that we’ve often accommodated into our own. The association between a person’s worth and their physical attractiveness is such a violent and damaging lie, and there is little doubt that the vast majority of preachers would reject that link from the pulpit. But when we feature exclusively attractive, well dressed in marketing for events, churches and cds – we sing the same song as the rest of the world. More from Sayers’ post:

The Pagan worship of the Greco-Roman world was marked by an emphasis on status and physical attractiveness. The civic pagan festivals featured parades of prominent citizens, renowned athletes and well to do young people who were known for their physcial perfection. In short the parades would feature the beautiful, the rich and the famous. However in contrast, the early church totally subverted this status based, superficially obsessed religious system.  The early church lived by the following,

11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28

This radical equality was almost unimaginably offensive to the Greco-Roman world obsessed with status and physical perfection. Yet for the millions within the Greco Roman world who were ordinary women, slaves, servants, manual labourers and generally not part of the elite, this radical new Christian concept of equality regardless of social status, looks, and economic position could not be more relevant.

What an important message for this shallow world.