ADVICE & ANSWERS: Is Elective Plastic Surgery Allowable for the Christian Woman?

Last week, an anonymous reader wrote in with this question for our consideration:

My body is not what it was before I had kids, obviously, as most other women. I have struggled with getting plastic surgery. Just a little something to lift here and tuck there. It sounds so petty but in the reality of life, it really gets me down. I feel like I cannot please my husband any more because my stomach looks so disgusting, my breasts are so small, and my cellulite, well, let's just not go there. I also have thought about getting something done to fix my acne scars. So do you think this is wrong for a Christian? I would love your readers' opinion and yours also.

So what would you say to this woman? How would you address this issue? Is it clearly right or wrong to have plastic surgery as an elective procedure? What would you say if she was your friend, and could you back up your advice with the Word of God?

Leave your thoughts, comments, and advice, and I'll share my thoughts towards the end of the week (since they were requested). I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Bobbie said...

Gee that's a hard one!
I,ve had kids, my belly looks disgusting, but so does my husbands.And we both know it, we just don't want to work at it.

I like to use a dimly lit candle during romantic times, kinda helps me feel better about myself. At the same time, my husband could care less what my belly looks like, it's just me.

About plastic surgery, I would not do it,I'm chicken. But I have known other Christian ladies that did it, it did not fix the problem mentally, and the physical problem came right back, such as a big belly.

I have always wanted bigger breasts, I had them while nursing WO BABY!! But then they went back down to pea sized. God gave me the ones I have, who knows, maybe I would have been the type to flaunt them in others faces. How awful that would be.

If you were my friend, I would try to get to the root of the problem, by talking. Remember, satan is always right there to steal, kill and destroy. Get a group of ladies with similar goals and join an exercise class to target problem areas. I would also suggest a Christian counselor, if I felt things were very serious.

Also I hate to bring this up, because we women hear this so often, our feelings are so often HORMONAL. I don't know how old you are, but I'm 45 and sadly this is true for me and many other ladies over 35. And when the hormones kick in, our self-esteem takes a hike.

I would certainly talk to my husband about the way I'm feeling, pray together and look for Godly answers before I went under the knife.

God's Word says "our bodies are a temple of the Lord".

None of us are perfect.

Kim said...

I am a Christian woman who did have plastic surgery. I had a breast reduction when I was 19. While I was in a very immature place in my faith, I definitely do not regret the surgery. I guess perhaps my surgery is considered more health related than "appearance" related. ??? I don't know.

I think our bodies are flawed (as in death/sinful nature flawed, not unpretty flawed), and I can't say how I would feel if my flaws were due to carrying a baby rather than just due to overdeveloped hormones! :)

I would be curious to hear what the woman's husband would say (If she said that, I missed it).

Mrs. Brigham said...

I personally would argue that the want for elective plastic surgery typically comes from vanity or pride, and is also an example of poor stewardship as far as money goes. The world tells us to focus on our looks and to hold youthful beauty as one of the most important things about ourselves, but, as Christians, I really do believe we should grow old with grace and accept the immense blessings of wisdom and experience that come with age. These blessings can be used to do much good for God and His Kingdom and are worth far more than youthful good looks ever can be. As Proverbs 31 says, charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a women who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

On a different note, my sister had extensive facial & body reconstructive surgery after a terrible rollerblading accident several years ago. She went through HORRIBLE pain with her surgeries, has a loss of sensation and resulting difficulties still several years later. She also lost much of her taste sensation and has experience debilitating stomach pain as result of her surgeries. When she came out of the surgery, she did not even look human as she was so swollen, and it took nearly a year for all of the swelling to finally go away, and for her to look "normal" again. After seeing her go through such grief and pain for necessary surgery, I cannot imagine why people would do this to themselves for elective surgery. It was a devastating thing to watch and just broke my heart. :o(

Anna S said...

I believe we are called to take care of our God-given bodies and not risk our health unnecessarily. Surgery is always risky: I've heard of many complications even with relatively simple "fixes". So while I can't clearly say whether plastic surgery is right or wrong, I believe this is something to think of.

Terry said...

After having four kids (2 c-sections), I can say my body is no where near its former glory. Of course it could be better if I worked a little harder at staying fit. I wouldn't consider plastic surgery at this point in my life simply because I'd feel like I was tying my self-perception to my outer appearance, rather than the inner beauty that God says we should adorn ourselves with. My husband sees many of my flaws as treasures left over from giving him the gift of four beautiful kids and is much more forgiving than some men would be, I guess. But can I say it's wrong? I'm not prepared to go that far because it depends on the heart of the person doing it as well as how her husband feels about it. Is he all for it? Then maybe she should consider it. To me, it'd just not a black and white issue. Though I would urge extreme caution, especially considering the message she'd be sending to her kids-especially any daughters.

Anonymous said...

I had a consultation for breast implants several years ago-- and decided not to go through with the surgery for two reasons:

1. It is not good stewardship of the financial resources I've been blessed with;

2. I was mentoring a group of 12 year old girls, and I couldn't face the thought of them knowing I was that unhappy with my breast size. I didn't think that I would be setting a good example for them by getting the surgery. I also wouldn't want my daughter to feel that she needed to get a breast augmentation to be attractive.

On the other hand, I think a breast reduction is more health-related, as there are problems with back pain, shoulder pain, etc.

I don't regret my decision to stick with my 32AA's. My husband doesn't care, either. As one final comment, I think that if your post-baby body disgusts your husband, he has some issues to work on, too.

Great question!

Anonymous said...

I found myself nodding my head up and down when reading Mrs. Brigham's reply. I completely agree with her...and besides, we are all created in God's image (and highly doubt He ever would get plastic surgery...)

Christie said...

Hmmm...Unlike some of the other women that have posted, I have not yet been blessed with children. I am 22, relatively fit, and happily married. However, the thought of plastic surgery has also crossed my mind, but I've never actually seriously considered doing this. If I ever did want the surgery, my goal would likely be to make myself more attractive in my husband's eyes.

That's not to say that I am not always pleased with body - I have "fat" days just like everyone else. It's just that my husband sees things differently than I do, and truly, I long to be beautiful in his eyes. I'll be frustrated because I am only able to fit into my stretchy pants (praise Jesus for those things!), and somehow that same day my husband will make a remark about how he likes the way I look. Go figure!

Like Terry said, I would take my husband's opinion into high consideration. I would only do it if he were all for it (which I find extremely unlikely in my case). If he were at all against it, I would drop it completely, because after all, the goal would be pleasing him.

Also - to echo what has been said. Certainly if feelings of pride are fueling this desire as opposed to genuinely longing to please the spouse, then I would consider plastic surgery to be wrong. God of course is most concerned with our internal beauty, and doing something that would fuel our vanity certainly would be sinful.


Jess said...

Well, I said I'd weigh in with my thoughts at the end of the week, and here it is- the beginning of the next week- and I haven't done so. So here are my general thoughts on this:

I tend to line up with what Mrs. Brigham said. I wouldn't sit in judgment of someone who opted FOR plastic surgery... but if a friend came to me and asked me for real, transparent advice on this issue, here's what I'd have to say:

- Consider that God gave you the body you have and knew your whole life before it came to be. He fearfully and wonderfully knit you together, knowing that what He was making in the womb those ___ years ago would now look the way it does. He knew you would have ____ for your husband, and He knew you'd have to work through this.

- Consider how else you could spend/donate that money. Can you find an amazing cause that you can get WAY excited about? Giving that money to anonymously help a struggling family whose husband has lost his job? Supporting someone (or several someones) on a mission trip? Giving to a crisis pregnancy center (perhaps buying upgraded computers or contributing towards a sonogram machine)? Or some other thing you're passionate about?!

There are so many needs in the world, and to me, if I'm speaking frankly and honestly, as I would to a good friend, this does seem awfully frivolous in the bright light of eternity.

- Consider other ways that you could delight and thrill your husband. Could you go and splurge and get some special things to spice up your intimacy with him? Could you go to a marriage retreat? Could you use that money to have a personal trainer for a season so that you could do target work-outs to firm up the parts you're unhappy with?

- Consider how you might encourage & help other Christian women by remaining joyful JUST AS YOU ARE. Do what you can to get into shape, eat right, etc... but then live joyfully with the body you have. Perhaps you could spend some time really seeking joy from the Lord-- asking Him to show you how to be cheerful and content just as you are.

And then once you've learned that lesson, what a great thing you'll have to share with others... to encourage THEM when THEY are at that low point post-babies, feeling used up and spent. You have so much more to offer besides your body... and I personally have found that even when I don't have everything perfect in my body (which has been virtually every moment of my adult life), if I can have an attitude of pleasure and beauty, my husband finds that incredibly alluring and desirable.

Our culture presents such a spotless, perfect image of beauty- but true beauty (as the Bible describes it) is described like this: it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. 1 Peter 3:4-5

I wish I could give you a hug and encourage you in person, but for now, this will have to do-- there is SO MUCH MORE that God could do through this crisis and struggle in your life. He wants to make you into a beautiful woman-- but His ideas of beauty are vastly different from our own. I pray that He will show you the way in which you should walk and give you the desire to seek His will above all else.

Blessings & may He make you into a stunningly beautiful woman~

Anonymous said...

I have plastic surgery planned in 8weeks. I am 60 years old and I am planning a face lift. My husband died last year. I wouldn't have considered it if he were alive. I easily have the funds to cover the surgery. Men are so visual. I feel like I have no chance for a new relationship looking like I do today. However, I am seeking the Lord's will in this whole matter.