One of my favorite Bible passages is from Psalm 34. Verses 4 and 5 read: "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."
I have seen that kind of radiant beauty on those whose hearts are contented in God, who are eager to proclaim all of His blessings and mercies upon their lives. I firmly believe that is the most attractive beauty there is, because it edifies and builds up others. Yet, I also know the strong pull of the cosmetic and cosmeceutical industries and the promises they make to stall or turn back the ravages of time. So I write this post with a bit of ambivalence, because I know the money I spend at various salons.
That said, I have never been Botoxed. My dermatologist did inform me a few years ago that it was time to start, because it would keep my fine lines from becoming deep wrinkles. I frowned (deepening those lines) and shook my head. There was no way I was going to stick a neurotoxin in my face, I announced. I was sure that in 20 years, we'd discover why that was a bad idea. She looked at me placidly and said, "I hope not because I have a face full of it." Maybe she was looking at me in wide-eyed horror, but I couldn't tell.
Likely it won't take 20 years. We're now discovering a new problem associated with the Botox craze: an increased risk of terrorism. Yesterday the Washington Post ran an article about how officials fear that the toxic ingredient in Botox could become terrorist tool:
In early 2006, a mysterious cosmetics trader named Rakhman began showing up at salons in St. Petersburg, Russia, hawking a popular anti-aging drug at suspiciously low prices. He flashed a briefcase filled with vials and promised he could deliver more -- "as many as you want," he told buyers -- from a supplier somewhere in Chechnya.
Rakhman's "Botox" was found to be a potent clone of the real thing, but investigators soon turned to a far bigger worry: the prospect of an illegal factory in Chechnya churning out raw botulinum toxin, the key ingredient in the beauty drug and one of world's deadliest poisons. A speck of toxin smaller than a grain of sand can kill a 150-pound adult.
No Chechen factory has been found, but a search for the maker of the highly lethal toxin in Rakhman's vials continues across a widening swath of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. U.S. officials and security experts say they know the lab exists, and probably dozens of other such labs, judging from the surging black market for the drug.
Al-Qaeda is known to have sought botulinum toxin. The Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization, and other groups have bought and sold counterfeit drugs to raise cash. Now, with the emergence of a global black market for fake Botox, terrorism experts see an opportunity for a deadly convergence.
"It is the only profit-making venture for terrorists that can also potentially yield a weapon of mass destruction," said Kenneth Coleman, a physician and biodefense expert.
That last quote is important. I recognize that criminal elements can run scams on most anything to finances their ventures. In some ways, we can't take responsibility for what they choose to contort. But in an age of responsible consumerism, we also can't ignore what kind of markets our consumption creates. This article contains sobering news. I don't offer it to shame women who have had Botox treatments, nor to add one more temptation to those who are prone to fear. I am posting it because I had never heard about this potential link to terrorism. And I believe that having this kind of information helps us to consider our actions and motives from a broader perspective. It challenges us to rethink what is packaged as normal and acceptable.
We live in an age that sells us a lie: that somehow or another we can get around the aging process. But we can't. Not in our own strength. Sickness, aging, and death are a consequence of our own sinfulness. They are inevitable consequences, but they are not irrevocable. Because there is One who paid the penalty for our sin and gave us His righteousness in exchange, this is not the end of the story. Jesus triumphed over death! His sinless life and substitutionary death on the cross for our sins has averted the Father's righteous wrath for all of our wrongs. Through this divine rescue, we can repent and receive Jesus' gracious gift of forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and life everlasting. And added to those amazing gifts is a new, glorified and ageless body.