Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is it a sin to go for plastic surgery?

from Her.meneutics, Christianity Today's blog for ladies

June 2, 2009

Is it a Sin to Nip and Tuck?

Cosmetic surgery may be one more manifestation of Paul's warning about self-improvement.

“Beauty often wins love. It just does,” write Karen Lee-Thorp and Cynthia Hicks in Why Beauty Matters. No wonder women and, increasingly, men are willing to endure the pain and risk of elective cosmetic surgery to attain it. New York Times reporter Alex Kaczynski states it bluntly in her cosmetic surgery expose, Beauty Junkies. “In the end it all comes down to sex. . . . We are looking for love. And we will accept lust.”

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what do you think?


  1. Hey Alex, thanks for this highlight. I'm especially interested in such topic.

    3 agreements with the article:

    1) The culture of indulging in false beauty is communal.

    2) Decision to go for cosmetic surgery is made under duress.

    3) "...do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love serve one another.”

    3 critics on the agreeable points:

    1) Is there such a clean-cut to differentiate between 'real' and 'false' beauty? Beauty can extend simply from our clothes, our behaviour, to extremes like cosmetic surgery. So before we declare what constitute 'false' beauty, we need to be clear of that.

    2) All decision that we made are influence in one way or another by our surrounding and experiences. Hence, all decision are made under duress. The issue is not even the degree of duress but by which duress are we being influenced under.

    3) Not sure if self-indulgence can be so uncritically defined and applied in cosmetic surgery. Isn't afraid of hell in the after-life a type of self-indulgence? Perhaps, I'm extending the meaning of the term used by the author of the article. If no, then again, I have to ask where to draw the line between self-indulgence from self-preservation (in this case, socially and culturally)?

    My 2 other responses:

    1) So far the author did not highlight cases where the patients' features are severely disfigured (like those who has nose cancer). For these patients, in order for them to lead a normal life back into the society, reconstruction surgery is needed (unless the author distinguish between 'reconstruction' from 'cosmetic' surgery. If this is the case, again I'm required to ask where to draw the line?).

    2) So far the author didn't demonstrate any theological response to the issue. What she did is just pick out some verses and apply it to the issue. I'm not against this practice but such practice is often uncritical and premature when it comes to contemporary issues.

    phew~~~ OK... what do you think, Alex?

    P/S: My goodness.. the 'Word Verification' for my comment is 'suffer'!

  2. Interesting. I guess it depends on the person and motives behind a nip and tuck.

  3. Hi Sze Zeng,

    I like your critical reading of the article. Personally I read the article as an attempt to justify the narcissistic and self-indulgent elements of a society.

    It is ridiculous to blame it all on 'duress' as if someone is forcing one to get a 'nip and tuck.' That's is shifting the blame to society. It is always a personal choice and it is time people take responsibility for their actions.

    The various examples given are attempts for self justification. The pathetic attempt to use Scripture to defend one's positive shows the poor exegesis and the ignore the fact that Scripture is always counter-cultural.

    I take the point that this is not reconstructive surgery which is a treatment modalities. This is normal individual chasing a fantasy and hoping that 'nip and tuck' will give the instant solution to their self-esteem and self-knowledge problems. Basically they need to know God and thus know themselves.

  4. Hi Paul,

    How will your pastoral response be if a member of your congregation approach you for advice?

  5. Interesting thoughts here. Spending $$ on plastic surgery is probably not too much different than spending money on expensive clothes, cars, homes, etc.. we in the west are fixated on image and do crazy things to improve our image.

  6. Hi Bob,

    That's an interesting comment. I have not thought about it that way. What struck me is that letting a cosmetic surgeon operate upon a person is no different from a person buying an expensive car or coat. Hmm, great insight.

  7. Hi Alex, I just came across Kong Hee, founder of City Harvest Church, perspective on cosmetic surgery. Thought you might be interested:

  8. Hi Sze Zeng,

    Thanks for the link. It gives a lot of information without offering any guidance. The information is probably from a website somewhere as there are no "board certified" doctors in Singapore, only in the States.

    And LASIK surgery is corrective not cosmetic. As is treatment for hyperhidrosis and ptosis.

    By confusing corrective and reconstructive surgery with aesthetic surgery the post appears to imply a go ahead for aesthetic surgery. No wonder they love him.

  9. Hi Alex, I think you had a right on there. Previously I didn't notice all those you have highlighted.

    It really makes a different when the same article is read by a professional doctor who concerned over such issues.

    You remark has helped me to be more discerning. Thank you!