Graven Images of the Human Kind (Part 1)

         It is fairly easy for the non-deceived to spot faux religious leaders.

         Such are the ones with perfect outer images who have mastered the art of staying in character.

         They also dress very well for the part.

         “‘Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’” [Deuteronomy 27:15] [1]

         I remember hearing a message by a man principally involved in marriage ministry who also pastors a large congregation. This man was talking about how God created men to be wired visually regarding their attraction toward a mate.

         He then began talking about how enhanced photography and facial makeup allow some women to look much better than they actually do. When such methods create an image, it is simply not real. He said married men often fall into temptation comparing such pretty faces to their wives, who feel they cant compete.

         Regarding even the best looking professional super models he said, “Don’t be concerned about not looking like that. They don’t look like that…”

         Now, it is certainly okay to want to look our best, but some strive to vastly improve on the Creator’s handiwork and attempt to look not just their best but better than the rest, even if it means cosmetically transforming in the extreme their actual, God-given appearance. And the ultra use of cosmetics, plastic surgery, and photographic tricks to assist in that process is no longer necessarily an option for many, though it is a relatively recent innovation.


         The first crude camera photograph was created circa 1826-27, going on two centuries ago, and the vast majority of ladies in developed nations never wore makeup until maybe 50-60 years ago. Now, of course, the percentage of women who wear makeup to some degree or another has advanced dramatically, and photography has advanced to ultra high definition video. By comparing the oldest photographs from the 1800s and portrait paintings centuries older, one can see the great advances made both in mechanical media and also culturally accepted (demanded) cosmetics.

         Technology has presently improved to the extent that a person’s image can be dramatically changed, and it can generate quite a shock when such people are seen outside their usual doctored images. This often happens with celebrities who spend a lot of time behind a camera, but this is not always the case.

         For instance, there is the true story from a few years ago of a longtime pastor who, during the middle of a big Sunday church service while preaching, suddenly ripped off the hairpiece from atop his head.

         The entire congregation was blown away. He had been wearing hairpieces for so long most of the people there had never known he was bald. It probably took a while to get used to the “new guy.”

         Because there are currently so many false images in the world, and because people become so used to seeing created images, the actual person underneath is often unrecognizable and by comparison obviously inferior.

         This has caused two things: (1) Very high artificial self-esteem based on the use of excellent effects to enhance one’s natural appearance, and (2) Very low self-esteem for those who cannot compete for whatever reason.

         It is most likely that such a wide divergence of image did not exist in the days when all women wore no makeup, save for a tiny percentage of royals and the wealthy. This provided for a level playing field though some had greater natural beauty than others.

         Today, if people choose to transform their image using whatever means, the outer image thus created is obviously different than what their actual natural image would be otherwise.

         If some of these people also dress very well, learn how to present themselves very well, say all the right words and phrases, and effect fake smiles and attitudes that appear real, outside observers will certainly be faked out, especially if they’ve never seen such people sans their carefully crafted image.

         What’s going on here? Why do people want to engage in such image-making?

         It usually boils down to three things: (1) Vanity, (2) Advantage, and (3) Money.


         It is a matter of social acceptance. It is a matter of dispelling any doubts concerning one’s character and motives. It is a matter of putting forth the look of success and proper reputation.

         It is also a matter of competition. The better one looks and the more one is accepted, the more one rises in one’s society (gains in popularity) and the better one feels (an ongoing endorphin rush), both of which results in greater pleasure and high self-esteem, though the danger of creating great pride exists based simply on a less than honest outer image. Also, more doors will open. More open doors mean receiving more opportunities, earning more money, and even attracting a better mate (or multiple mates).

         Of course, Hollywood figured this out going on a century ago. The creation of “movie stars” was not possible without stage lighting, makeup, superior costumes, camera tricks, and etc. And once such stars were created, the movie-going public attended theaters all over the country in droves which made for an interesting phenomenon regarding people worshipping people.

         As the medium grew more sophisticated and color film was invented, image-making went through the roof. Nice looking people became extremely good-looking people. The eventual fake image of these people became the standard image, since so few were seen in the real world under normal conditions. When they were seen for how they really looked, however, the contrast was obvious and often scandalous.

         Many mainline Christian denominations preached against makeup and what they might term “unholy clothing” for decades in a vain attempt to keep Hollywood from invading the church. But after World War I, the advent of moving pictures, and the comparatively decadent “Roaring Twenties” when greater wealth and material goods became available, the cat was out of the bag.

         It would take another quarter century, another World War (including the immoral influence of other cultures), and television before America became transformed forever into an amoral image-based society.

         The Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates, the first televised debates, proved this transformation in 1960. The visual contrast between these two men was stark in that John Kennedy presented a much greater televised image than Richard Nixon, though many who only listened on radio thought Nixon had won.

         It was primarily John Kennedy’s carefully crafted superior image that eventually won him the presidency.

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]

[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

“Kennedy and his people were the master manipulators of television:”

Graven Images of the Human Kind (Part 2)

Graven Images of the Human Kind (Part 3)

Posted on January 5, 2015, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ve often thought our presidents have been elected based on their looks since the advent of television. Can you imagine how the founding fathers would have stacked up in our present era? Or President Lincoln? This is how shallow the American public has become. Worshipers of youth and beauty. But really….hasn’t it always been that way to a certain extent? Man looks on the outward appearance but the LORD looks on the heart, that is to say the inward man. Do you suppose that the LORD GOD deliberately chose that the LORD JESUS be rather ordinary in appearance instead of like an Jewish version of Brad Pitt?

    “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him”.

    As long as we’re on the subject, have you ever noticed that the actors playing Jesus in films are always good looking men? Or, have you ever seen a modern painting representing Jesus that looked like an unattractive or ugly man?

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Scarlett, for a great comment. There is no doubt that the Lord decided He would be an unattractive and uncharismatic human being. The Scripture you quote from Isaiah 53 confirms it. The Lord Jesus wanted to make sure people were attracted to Him and His message because they were led by the Holy Spirit and wanted the real Gospel, not because of His outer appearance, social standing, or bank account.

      We also know that King Saul won the People’s Choice Award because he was a handsome man and much taller than everyone else. Israel chose Saul over God, and actually rejected God. And that is because people certainly choose primarily according to the outward appearance and in response to unrealistic promises. That’s why the advent of the television age gave us shallow other-agenda politicians and Christian celebrities who know how to look good in front of a camera.

      Regarding the false adaptations of the Lord’s image, I saw one of those ridiculous caricatures of the Lord just yesterday on an unnamed Christian channel. The “actor” had very long hair flowing way down his back, wore some bright shiny robe, and looked and acted like a complete goofball. This is the garbage some people keep putting forth. Sad.

      Be blessed.

      Also, for some reason some of my reader comments are showing up in my spam folder! That’s where yours was. I apologize for not noticing it sooner. For all readers, please know I will have to start looking through all the spam to make sure this does not happen again. If it has already happened and I missed one of your comments, I greatly apologize.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I have the spam problem too R.J, I now check my Spam regularly and at times I also have found some of my followers in there but Wow in regard to the others who comment in Spam, don’t you just Love some of their honest appraisals of us and our Blogs. Did you know R.J I’m fantastic, charming and witty and I have the best Blog with the greatest presentation that some have ever had the good fortune to see. Yes Anne The greatest, just ask my Spam followers Lol

    But perhaps they don’t know I’m also not sweet sixteen anymore and don’t need their props but I do remember the pressure to measure up outwardly when I was and so I was Bulimic on and off for 10 years having had a weight problem from a young child, today I suffer also from not having good nutrition in my growing years but Wow I looked good, yes I felt rotten but the fear of being rejected was always in the back of my mind and stayed with me for many years.

    As a Christian I’m not against moderate makeup or even dying grey hair but depending on them or clothes and jewelery instead of inner beauty is very wrong. I don’t t seek to have my picture taken anymore , the one on my Blog of Ron and myself is six years old and the only recent one I have that I could scan. I haven’t changed a lot, a bit more weight and laugh lines but my understanding of God’s Truth has greatly changed and the fear of not measuring up outwardly has gone.

    Yes even now people tell me I don’t look my age as though being young is the most important thing in our being accepted but I love being called Grannie Annie by the Children in my Neighborhood. I also see great beauty in the Elderly that I visit in the Nursing Home, their life wisdom, their Faith, their kindness in accepting others as people of worth regardless of outward presentation, some have legs and arms missing or very little hair and their dependent on Nurses even to eat but they welcome me with big smiles and kind words, their beauty outshines any Movie Stars, I hope at their age I will be as beautiful.

    Jesus was known as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that’s right He was also not Happy Clappy He even cried and showed other emotions, He knew the hearts of those whom He came in contact with and it grieved Him to know their destination, do we cry for the lost, do we care, do we share the only Hope there is, the Holy Spirit is not mute.

    Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne.


    • Thanks Anne. Very well said. The Lord always sees beyond our outer temporary veil and sees our hearts. But He is also the Author of “Joy unspeakable and full of glory!” (1 Peter 1:8)


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