Are beauty pageants Christian? Or from the other place?

“…but let it be the hidden beauty of the heart…” (I Peter 3:4)

My wife said, “How did you get on this kick about beauty pageants?”

I had been in revival in the lovely little town of Eutaw, Alabama, all week and had brought my program on “lessons on self-esteem from drawing 100,000 people” to three schools, a private academy, the local high school, and two combined middle schools. And after telling the kids that the first lesson I learned from sketching people of all ages for nearly a lifetime is that “everyone is beautiful in some way,” I point out that “each one is different, and therefore, comparing one with another is pointless and can be destructive.”

That’s when I will often remark as an aside that “this is why beauty pageants can be so foolish.”

Suppose you have 20 young ladies, all of them lovely and winners in every way. But the judges tell only one that she is the winner and send 19  home as losers.  What have we done? And why have we done it?  And should Christians do this?

I posted a paragraph on Facebook suggesting that such pageants might be a sin against humanity.

The comments poured in.

Most agreed, but the comments of two groups deserve mentioning.

One group of Facebook friends spoke up for pageants such as Junior Miss which has such a wholesome effect on the girls. Another told of working with young ladies in such a competition and “I found them to be the sweetest, nicest, most confident young people ever.”  Each commenter felt such competition builds character and confidence and should be encouraged for certain girls.

The other group was composed of people with thinking deficiences, I would say.  After my suggestion that such competition sends most of the girls home as losers, a few people suggested “then we need to end football games” and “golf tournaments.”  One said, “Then, we should not have fishing contests?” I answered, “As far as we know, these contests have no effect on the self-esteem of the fish since they tend to be dead at the time.”

Sarcasm?  I was not trying to put the person down, but to answer with the same logic she had used.

Whatever a Christ-follower does, he/she should be guided by certain questions and principles. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17) and “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men” (3:23).

“Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind and strength,” and “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37,39).

I’m not naive.

I know full well that there are people who call themselves Christ-followers who would say their pageants meet these standards, that they have prayer before/during/after the events, and there is no conflict.

I respond, “This may be so. I’m merely raising the question. I hope you agree that’s a good thing.”

You need to hear a story told me by Robert, a pastor friend.

“I was a young pastor and had led this couple to the Lord.  They were heavily into pageants, with their 3-year-old daughter being groomed for everything her mother could never be: Miss (name of state), Miss America, etc. As their pastor, I spoke to the husband privately about how this beauty pageant culture is unbiblical and harmful to his family.  He reacted negatively and went straight to tell his wife.  She went nuts.

“Preachers should mind their own business,’ she said. Within two weeks, however, she and the husband and one of the grandmothers were involved in a brawl at one of these pageants which their little girl had won. They were fighting, pulling hair, calling names, making threats.  Later, the young dad came to me and apologized and repented. The mother never did.”

“As a pastor, I learned two things: a) I was right about the pageants, and b) the people involved have no sense of propriety, balance or eternal perspective.”

One of my Facebook friends said beauty pageants are “the insecure being judged by the insecure to represent the unqualified.”

Are we saying no good comes from these things? Absolutely not.  In fact, a member of our family was able to put herself through college (and later, go on for masters and a doctorate) by the scholarships she won in the Miss Alabama contest.  For her, the news was all good.

To repeat, I’m simply raising the question.

As a pastor–and that’s always my perspective–the pageant culture seems, as my friend Robert said, unbiblical and harmful to children. Perhaps–just perhaps–when the young ladies are grown and can decide for themselves, it’s a different story.

As a parent of one daughter and grandfather of six lovely young ladies who are my heart, I will say this: If someone were to assemble my girls and name one as the winner and the others as losers, I would be so angry at him.  They are all winners and we do not need his cheap little loving cup on the mantelpiece to know this.

I wonder if the Lord is not angry at a lot of people for the damage they incur on the souls and psyche of these young people by their pageants.

Now, shall we get into the question of football games and fishing rodeos?

Go Tigers!

12 thoughts on “Are beauty pageants Christian? Or from the other place?

  1. good thoughts to raise. By doing so, you make us all consider whether it is a good idea, whether it is a good representative of Christian living, whether it is beneficial to the child/young woman, and how we should handle any results as we encounter that important announcement. I do suspect that when we cannot answer in the positive to each of these considerations, perhaps the pageant is inappropriate or we need to examine our motives in participating as well as our relationship to Christ. Write on…

  2. I have always cringed at the idea of beauty pagents. I would not freely let my daughter be ranked by a stranger on her “beauty”. Why would I want her to think they had the right to do this to her? Neither would I want her to win and then feel she was valuable because a pannel of strangers said she was a beauty queen. Too many potential pit falls spiritually for me to feel it was worthy of her time.

  3. I did pageants for a few years as a young adult. It actually taught me to be humble, and lift others up, because people assume that if you're "beautiful" by the world's standards, you must be stuck up and self-centered. Having gotten a lot of attention th on said:

    Thank you! May God use you everywhere you go!

  4. I did pageants for a few years as a young adult. It actually taught me to be humble, and lift others up, because people assume that if you’re “beautiful” by the world’s standards, you must be stuck up and self-centered. Having gotten a lot of attention throughout my adulthood made me more aware of people’s insecurities and their need to put others down to make themselves feel okay. Being in a pageant taught me to praise others and build them up, because the world is constantly knocking us down. I did not get attention in my life until I gave my life to Christ. It was Him that drew people, not pageants or having been in them. It taught me public speaking and has helped equip me to be an intelligent communicator, which is necessary to be excellent for the Lord when witnessing. I am now 42 and a mom. My daughter has done pageants for the past 3 years. She is now 6 years old. We use it as an opportunity to witness to the girls and their moms. We bring Christian princess books and give them to the little girls. I enter the Mother of the Year contest on family night at the pageant we attended twice so I can go up and share the Lord what my priority is as a mother… to raise my daughter up in the Him and equip her to do life for His kingdom. God always affirms me by having parents in the audience cheer for me, screaming “AMEN!” and mothers of contestants come up to me afterward and commend me for being bold. My daughter knows her worth is in Christ, not the approval of pageant judges. She is a witness wherever we go… pageants, the grocery store, the gym, work, our friends & families’ and other public places. She is not afraid to share the Lord and God uses her all the time. We are to go out in the world, but not be influenced by it. No matter where we are, there are believers and non-believers and both need to hear about the Lord. Not everyone will hear about Jesus in church. It is the fruit and light they see in us that makes them hunger for Him and want what we have. Use every opportunity to be a light, but don’t be conformed by the way of this world by the transforming of our minds. When we are out in the world shining our light, people notice. We are to go out and catch the fish… but God cleans them. Pageants aren’t bad. No matter what you do, as long as you don’t make it your idol and define your worth by it, God will use it for his glory if we want to be used by Him. My daughter and I both work in film and TV, and trust me, I do not like what Hollywood puts out, but the Lord uses us every time we work. I always see God at work in the entertainment industry and the people He uses. If we look for God, we will see him everywhere at work fulfilling His purpose through us and others… even when the devil is wreaking havoc all around us. As ugly as life around us seems, God knows the end of the book. While we’re here, we need to go to the lost and deliver His message. If you want to be used by God, He will use you more than just at a pulpit. God bless! Thank you! May God use you everywhere you go!

  5. Wonderful response AA. There are winners and losers in sports and dance and music, infact anywhere there is competition. If we are going to make the act of a competition (assigning winner and loser status to people) a reason to condemn an activity then we are not going to have much left to watch or participate in. Perhaps the bigger question is how competition fits into a biblical way of living?

  6. Indeed beauty paegants are unbiblical and are against Godly principles.
    Gen 1:25 So God made them all , and he was pleased with what He saw.
    Verses 26 -27 God created man (and woman) in His own image
    Gen 1:31 God looked at everything He had made and He was very pleased
    Beauty paegant judges actually are in contravention of God’s own views of human beings created in His own image.
    Daniel 3: 5
    You will hear the sound of trumpets, followed by the playing of oboes, lyres, zithers, and harps; and then all the other instruments will join in.As soon as the music starts , you are to bow down and worship the gold statue that king Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
    What is the environment like around and during beauty pageants ( and talent search &/ singing competitions )?
    The organisers create scenarios that effectively turn contestants into golden statues to be looked upto by the society. They (contestants ) are elevated to positions in society that do not match Godly requisite qualities (spiritual piety & divine anointing-read spirit)other than outward beauty( read flesh) .
    1 Peter 3:4 Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self , the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight.
    Beauty pageant’s are of the lowest value IN GOD’S SIGHT.
    For any believing and practicing christian ought to subject this to closer scrutiny and carefully interrogate underlying issues.
    Making money out of display of your percieved ‘acceptable ‘ beauty is a disgrace in God’s eye. – ever thought of the unsuccessful contestants and worse still those whose bodies are percieved unacceptable by the set worldly standards.
    2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers , for it cannot be done . How can right and wrong be partners ? How can light and darkness live together ?
    We should strive as christians NOT TO BE YOKED with unbelievers.
    God bless you.

  7. am 21, born again Christian. i have loved beauty pageant all my life, but i do know my worth, the reason i do pageants its because i enjoy it. i do not go for the ones that compromises me at all. i know my standard, i choose well fitting clothes and that’s something i strive to put up in every pageant i enter into , promoting “MODESTY” . i believe we are all different and unique, and placed in all areas in this world to let righteousness of God to shine.

  8. by the way, James, the bible tells us not to be equally yolked with unbelievers, but, it doesn’t mean we should conform to all that comes our way (pageants). most of you are a working class, mixed with believers and unbelievers, you probably have workshops and work related events together, you talk and laugh with them all, but isn’t it up to you as a Christian to bring light to them?

    Jesus sat and ate at the same table with sinners, but i believe it was his way of letting them to turn away from all unpleasing(sinful) things they were doing which they did. we will not find these type of people in church or any other Christian fellowships or gathering, but we might just meet them in such areas (pageants) and if am a child of god, knowing my self image and representing god in every pageant i go, not compromising in inappropriate dressing and sharing norms and the joy of the lord where i go, don’t you thing, by doing this thing i love will let GOD touch other hearts in anyway?

    correct me if am being mislead, …..

  9. Wow! I’m happy I came across this post. I totally disagree with you that Pageants are unbiblical.. By the grace of God I just finished from a Beauty Pageant 2 weeks ago which I emerged the 1st runner up.

    I do not see anything unbiblical or harmful about pageants, the one thing to me that makes it unbiblical or harmful are the requirements, which is nudity! And other things that are being taught there.

    Beauty Pageants actually started in the Bible, if you doubt me, pls read the book of Esther again. But we Christians have left Pageants for the world that is why they have turned out like this, the organisers now make young girls feel they have to go nude to show how beautiful they are..

    Luckily for me, I came across this Beauty Pageant know as ‘Esther Beauty Pageant’ that involves no nudity. Yeah! I’m sure you’ll say it’s impossible but I was part of the Pageant just few weeks back. If you want to know about the Pageant, follow on Instagram @ebpageant and on Facebook-Esther Beauty Pageant. You can also see a lot on my Facebook wall, talking about Esther Beauty Pageant. It is a Pageant you’ll totally love to be know about.
    You say Beauty Pageants make other ladies see themselves as loosers and make just one a winner.. I do not agree with you on that too because in this Esther Beauty Pageant I participated in, everybody is a winner. We were all seen as Queens and made to know that we are all winners but only one was to be crowned in the competition. We were also taught a lot from different speakers who came to camp. Trust me, every girl who participated in the Pageant had her confidence built and became a much better person after the camp. I’m not just saying this but all the ladies gave their testimonies after the Pageant.

    No! Beauty Pageants do not make others see themselves as loosers! Beauty Pageants are not unbiblical or harmful, it is we Christians that have left Pageants to the world to do it their own way, and until we(Christians) get involved in Pageants doing it the right way, building godly girls and also using it to win souls for Christ. We will continue to say Beauty Pageants are unbiblical and harmful! Thank you!

    • You disagree with me when I said “I’m merely raising the question”? Please reread what I wrote. I did not say that all are unbiblical or harmful. I merely raised the question. You need to learn how to disagree in a Christlike spirit, which would require first of all that you give the piece a fair reading before responding to it. Thank you.

      • Ok sir. Not all Pageants are harmful. Some definitely leave a positive mark on the young ladies. And I still believe if we Christians get more involved in organising Pageants, it will encourage young ladies the more as the standard and setting will totally be different than that organised by an unbeliever because with that it will be done the wrong way. That’s my own perspective. Thank you.

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