I would be lying through my teeth if I claimed that my interest in my wife has always been purely spiritual, and that from the moment I met her, her walk with God, all by itself, was all that made my heart sing. Although I always have and still do love her for that, she also caught my eye just as quickly and easily as she captured my heart.

That being the case, I have, since the moment we met, always wanted to know that she finds me physically attractive as well.

Some years ago we, along with her parents, took a family vacation. While there, we decided to take in an excellent aquarium nearby. And among the very cool exhibits in that aquarium was a penguin habitat; an interactive penguin habitat. There were tunnels under the water that would allow you to pop up inside clear plastic bubbles in the midst of the penguin habitat. You simply got down on your hands and knees, crawled through one of the many tubes, stood up at the right moment, and were nose to beak with those cute little black and white critters. It must have looked odd, I suppose, to those penguins, to have land-based bipeds ogling them in their habitat. Nonetheless, the penguins all seem to take it in stride, as if they were tiny celebrities enjoying the attention.

We were in that display for a good while. And at some point, my wife leaned over to her mother, pointed at me crawling around in my black jeans, and commented, “My husband has such a cute backside…”

I do not need any recording to prove to me that she actually said it; I just so happened to be standing behind her as she did.

As it turns out, I was not the only guy there that day in black jeans.

At a moment like that, does one beam with the satisfaction of knowing that his wife deems his derriere attractive, or steam with the chagrin of realizing that she thinks someone else’s derriere is attractive?

As is my wont, I chose the happier of the two options. Besides, that whole episode gave me an “I will never let you live this one down” card, and those are always handy. All of this does, though, bring a very valuable truth of Scripture and marriage into my mind.

The Song of Solomon is a love story about a husband and wife. It is the “passionate romance” book of the Bible. Pay attention to a couple of selections in which they are complimenting each other on physical appearance.

Song of Solomon 2:1-3 “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

Song of Solomon 4:1 “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair;”

Song of Solomon 5:10-16 “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Clearly, these two were smitten with each other’s looks. And that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

One of the saddest things I have observed in years of helping marriages is the unfortunate tendency of people to simply let themselves go. Granted, we are all getting older every day; but older is very different than unfit or unkempt. A good number of problems in marriage could be mitigated or even solved with a good gym membership and a healthy diet. Many a person with no prohibitive health issues will proclaim his or her undying love for their spouse while digging their own grave with a spoon and needlessly being “twice the person” they were when they said I do.

It is unhealthy. It is unfair to your spouse. And it renders you completely incapable of crawling through a penguin tube and then listening to your spouse comment positively on someone else’s posterior.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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