The Reality of Vanity Fair

…they presently saw a town before them, and the name of the town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long, it beareth the name of Vanity Fair because the town where ’tis kept is lighter than vanity; and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is vanity. As is the saying of wise, ‘All that cometh is vanity.'” -John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

In the classic book Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes a town named Vanity and the fair that occurs there. Created long ago by Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, the fair in Vanity runs year-round, selling nearly anything imaginable. A cacophony of crowds, noise, sights and smells. There is no way around it: those who wish to travel to the Celestial City must journey through this town and its fair.

Today there is a popular magazine with the name Vanity Fair. Known for its cover photographs of celebrities, the magazine demonstrates that vanity is attractive. The vanities glitter and sparkle; surely, one would think, they contain some substance. Yet look further and see that, like tinsel, a slight puff of wind and such vanities are airborne. One such example is a recent interview in said magazine with actress Jennifer Lawrence. Miss Lawrence, whilst a rising star in Hollywood, had private inappropriate photos hacked and leaked online. When asked about the incident, Lawrence shared her outrage over the theft and offered her justification for having taken such photos:

I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” -Jennifer Lawrence

This is the world’s definition of healthy love. It glitters and sparkles; it is “great”. Yet here comes the puff of wind: the boyfriend will not (or can not) exhibit self-control, so the girlfriend chooses to be a cheapened substitute. All is vanity.

Compare the world’s example of love with how Christ loves his bride:

…Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. -Ephesians 5:25-27

The things of this world are fleeting; the Lord is eternal. People and their allegiances constantly change; the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever. Christ, fully God and fully man, gave Himself up for such sinners as those bedazzled by the sights at Vanity Fair. Run from your sins and cling to the One who will never leave you nor forsake you. And for those of us pilgrims just passing through, may we not envy sinners, but live in the fear of the LORD always (Proverbs 23:17).

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3 thoughts on “The Reality of Vanity Fair

    • Yes, that quote is a stark example of the foolishness of this world. It was crushing when I first read it, to know that so many in our society think exactly the same way regardless of celebrity status. I was convicted to pray more that the Lord would open the eyes of the blind.

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