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How significant should physical attraction be in the pursuit of marriage?
Or, what role, if any, should physical appearance play in Christian dating? I would say, “No.” Or at least, “Not yet.” Given the common assumptions and practices in our society today, including the church, I do not believe a man (or woman) should begin a dating relationship with someone to whom they are not physically attracted.
I would encourage you to befriend her and get to know her in safe, unambiguous, non-flirtatious ways (probably in groups), until you know whether there is real beauty behind her face and everything else anyone can see.
Have you seen enough of her faith, her spiritual strength and maturity, her Christlikeness to know if her beauty is real and durable, or superficial and fading?
The heartthrob guy beats his girlfriend, or the magazine-cover woman sleeps with three more guys.
It’s suddenly harder to even look at pictures of them anymore. You see the same pictures differently now — same hair, same eyes, same figure — all suddenly unappealing, unattractive. God has wired us to appreciate beauty in his design — to find men (for women) or women (for men) physically appealing — and that is a real and important element in our pursuit of marriage, and eventually in our flourishing within the covenant.
Its role is massive initially, say the very first time you see someone, when all you know about them is what you see, before you even know their name or hear their voice.