Natural Artifice




– Robyn Pittenger

Look at any fashion magazine cover and what do you see? Flawless skin. Silky hair. Long eyelashes. Full, shiny lips. Large, well-shaped breasts. Slender waist. Shapely legs. Tiny feet.

Perfect, right? According to anyone.

According to anyone.

Hold on a second.

First off, like we said in “Not the Boss of Me,” who gets to decide that this is perfection?

And regardless of what individuals made these standards, they are human.

Breast implants, liposuction, botox, plastic surgery (Dare I say it? Gender changes,)— these procedures that are designed for drastic changes to the human body are to re-form something that God created and pronounced good into the shape of man’s desires.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” -Genesis 1:27

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” -Genesis 1:31

Creativity is a God-give talent. It is man thinking God’s thoughts after Him. But when we attempt to rework one of God’s creations, we are attempting to play God.

For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God.” -Psalm 86:10

Imagine you are sitting at a table doing some random doodling with a pen. You’re not truly paying attention to what you’re doing, just letting your mind wander and your pen wander with it. You sketch a little stick man in a field with a cartoon sun coming up behind him. Then suddenly that little stick figure…moves. It looks at you with its two little dotted eyes and suddenly you hear it saying: “Hey! You! Yeah, you! Why did you have to draw me this way? Are you stupid?! I don’t have any hands or feet, I can’t move! I don’t have a tongue! And why’d you put me out here in the middle of nowhere? What did I ever do to you, huh?! Gimme that stupid pen, I’m drawing the rest of this myself.”

You might not have been considering or planning the way you drew your irritable little stick-man, but God put an infinite amount of care and creativity into making each and every human being. There may be similar faces in the world, but no two fingerprints are the same. There may be similar personality types, but no one is going to think exactly the same way. The God who loves us and sent His only Son to die for us assembled us in a certain way…and we repay Him by taking a scalpel and silicone to augment what He created? Soon what we’re looking at is no longer a creation of God but a construction made with synthesized material to satisfy an ever-changing social ideal. A plastic model. Not even a doll— a Frankenstein. We’re living the ultimate horror movie. And the poster is everywhere.

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?’ -Romans 9:20-21

There is a difference between truly cosmetic surgery and using technology wisely, as good stewards of the gifts God has given us. Some girls need breast reductions for health reasons because the weight is hard on their back. Some birth defects such as cleft palettes and tongue-ties can be harmful to eating habits and speech. And at the risk of being controversial, hermaphrodites (people born with both male and female body parts) are painful examples of the way sin has infected the natural growth process of children in the womb. God has given us the technology to treat these things, a small means of counteracting the consequences of the sin mankind brought into the world.

But not to force mankind into the mold of our imagination. Not to re-form, remake or revise—not to play God.



  1. Em said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    SO true. Too many people try to play God. (I keep thinking of “Playing God” by Paramore.)

    Thanks, Robyn. This was a beautiful, and jarring, post.

  2. February 22, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Gorgeous post, Robyn! “Not to re-form, remake, or revise” … powerful words.

    How tempting it is to make our own decisions about what’s important and what’s beautiful! It’s so easy to follow other people’s opinions like lemmings. It’s hard to be different. It hurts.

  3. Hades said,

    May 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I agree with your point that plastic surgery and other means of reshaping ones body are wrong, and the messages sent out by the fashion industry and our culture are wrong. I like the ends, but not the means. I don’t think the problem is “playing God.” I think the issue is that society sets out an unrealistic standard for beauty which results in insecurity, lack of self respect, and negative body image.

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