“Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3: 3-4).
Body image is a complicated issue for child abuse victims.
Disregard for and “separation” from the body is not uncommon among victims. This is symptomatic of grief and an attempt to distance oneself from the violation. It may be coupled with the inability to have sex, an attempt to restore innocence and avoid further violation.
The world’s superficial values regarding beauty can reinforce the poor body image from which abuse victims frequently suffer. Damaged – in our own eyes at least – we often doubt ourselves to be deserving of love, sometimes living out a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The alternate approach is sexual promiscuity, an attempt to regain sovereignty over one’s body and a desperate plea for love. Elizabeth Taylor delivered a powerful performance illustrating this approach in the movie Butterfield 8. A large number of women in the sex trade were, in fact, victimized as children.
God’s love does not require that we somehow reinstate stolen innocence. His love is freely given to all who will invite Him into their hearts – no adornment necessary.
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