Is Plastic Surgery a Sin?

While reading an article in Ladies Home Journal about the increase in cosmetic procedures these days, the following question came to mind: Is plastic surgery a sin? I am not saying it is a sin, nor is this post an assault on plastic surgeons, patients, or cosmetic procedures. So put down your sticks and stones, please. I happen to like my face (for the most part!). Besides, how do you know I haven’t been nipped or tucked?

People have cosmetic procedures for all kinds of reasons. Although there is a tendency to associate plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures with low self-esteem and vanity, for some it is a medical necessity. Cancer and burn victims, accident victims, and those with birth abnormalities such as cleft lip can benefit not only physically but emotionally from reconstructive surgery.

It is no secret that we live in a society which has a standard of beauty which differs greatly from God’s standard. One only need look through the pages of a magazine or watch a TV commercial to see what the world’s standards are. It doesn’t take more than a glance at someone beautiful or a critical word about our own appearance to develop a negative self-image. Once that happens, we may decide that the only way to solve our dilemma is to alter our appearance so that we will look and feel younger or be better able to compete with those who seem to have inherited all the beauty genes.

Every one of us wants to look our best. I won’t even go out of the house without penciling on eyebrows and slapping a little color on my lips. Truth be told, I would probably even consider an eyelid tuck or neck lift if money were no object. For now, though, I have to settle for my age-fighting skin care regimen and Photoshop to get the laugh lines (I refuse to call them wrinkles) out of my face.

Whatever our reasons or methods for achieving a more youthful or glamorous appearance, we occasionally need to be reminded that God loves us just the way we are. Psalm 139 tells of the care God took when he created each of us. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (vs. 13-14). Yet many of us feel inadequate, inconsequential, and insecure unless we are tattooed, tucked, enhanced, or plucked. God never intended us to feel that way about ourselves and he wants us all to be mindful that he loves us, warts and all. We can try to outrun the clock or turn back the effects of time on our bodies, but we can never outrun God’s love or do anything to ourselves to make him love us more than he already does.


Here are a few verses regarding beauty that may be of interest or encouragement to you:

Esther 2:12 – “Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.” Can you say “spa treatment?” Even in Esther’s day, physical beauty was highly esteemed and labor-intensive.

Proverbs 31:30 – “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” This is one of my absolute favorite verses in Scripture. As a fifty-one-year old woman, I know that beauty is fleeting. But when I look into the mirror, not just at my face but into my eyes, I see a woman radiant with love for her God. Mind you, I look more radiant when I have taken a little time to care for my skin and enhance those eyes with a little mascara! It is said that “beauty is skin deep” and that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Next time you gaze at yourself in the mirror, look into your own eyes and see if you don’t see some hidden beauty just beneath the surface.

1 Peter 3:3-5 – “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” The saying “pretty is as pretty does” still applies today. The most beautiful woman or handsome man on the planet can suddenly lose all appeal when their behavior is ungodly and their words are venomous. The prettiest person you know may not be nearly as beautiful inside as you are.

So, is plastic surgery a sin? Probably not. But the underlying motivators of pride and fear can be. Ask God to show you if there is some area of your heart that needs a makeover then focus on what his Word says about true beauty. You may suddenly realize that you’re more beautiful than you ever imagined!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.