Proverbs 31:30-31: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

The other night, I came across an article talking about women in the alt-right movement. One of the things mentioned in the article was how much importance these women place on beauty. And that perspective is not right, and deeply saddens me.

Proverbs 31 expounds on the virtues of a godly woman. And the ideal put forward is not one focused on beauty. This doesn’t mean that beauty shouldn’t be appreciated, but that it shouldn’t be prized over more important attributes. Ideas of beauty are constantly changing. The models that grace the covers of magazines fit into a very narrow definition of beauty, and even then the photos are touched up and edited. What the 31st Proverb explains is that beauty of this sort is fleeting, that true beauty is something else entirely.

And what ideal does the Bible describe? A woman who serves God, works hard, takes care of those in need, and is capable in economics. Someone who is spiritually strong, and who works for others to the best of their ability. As someone who has grown up in conservative evangelicalism in America, I’ve often seen the ideal family portrayed with the husband as the breadwinner. And I don’t think that is right. Women should be earning money and contributing to society, too. Most importantly, though, they should pursue God and godly wisdom.

This ideal might not be a popular one, but it is a liberating one. It transcends the brief, momentary standards of beauty and fashion to a far more permanent and lasting legacy.