Confession time: I am a vain, vain man. At the same time, I take terrible care of myself and am not a particularly sharp dresser. So, you can imagine how deep my dissatisfaction runs. But all that is about to change: I am going to have cosmetic surgery. No, really — next week, Sumer and I are flying to Vancouver, where we will both have Lasik eye surgery, following which, we will be spectacle-free. Hurrah! Napoleon Dynamite becomes Dirk Benedict.
There are some practical benefits to having this type of procedure — no more glasses means that my vision, most likely, will be better than with lenses, including my peripheral vision; I’ll be able to see underwater; to run without the bouncing of the frames; to make out with hot girls (such as Sumer) without the annoying clunk sound of glasses-hitting-girl, or worse yet, the horrible clank of glasses-on-glasses. But at the heart of it all, it’s a vanity issue — no more four-eyes, which I’ve been since 4th grade (I remember it to this day, dancing to Disco Duck, woefully aware of my lot in life). I’ve been sensitive about my glasses for a long time, and so has Sumer.
My religion offers me little advice regarding the advisability of cosmetic surgery, whether it’s with or without any practical benefits. Is this surgery making my body more perfect? Will the incisions in my cornea be raised with me in the Resurrection? Alma has as good a description as anyone’s: “the spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time…” But this doesn’t really tell us much about the nature of our resurrected forms. What is the “proper frame” for our bodies? We believe that our bodies will be made perfect — does that mean we all get that 20/20 vision we long for? Will we no longer be lactose-intolerant? Will we be taller, stronger or (as my title suggests) more well-proportioned? In other words, does the resurrection serve to correct things perceived subjectively as imperfections, or does the resurrection work to some external standard of perfection?
This issue isn’t as peripheral as it might sound, because our notions of a physical resurrection, together with LDS belief in a corporeal God, make our notions of heaven and perfection a little different than the average Christian’s. Can we conceive of a God that can’t eat spicy nachos or that is a little on the short side? Even worse, do our concepts of God’s perfection require him to be anglo and bearded — and if so, does our definition of perfection require us to be anglo? (and bearded — better get that Beard Card, ye BYU-ites!) Perhaps we need to be a little more disciplined in LDS culture in how we conceive of perfection, and steel ourselves for the possibility that perfection may not mean the absolute resolution of self-conceived imperfections. That’s the problem when someone else makes you perfect — you don’t get to decide when you’ve reached perfection! In the meantime, I’ll be doing a little weight training so that I can fill out those heavenly robes a little better.