What is a woman?
Is she a collection of body parts? Is she made of plastic? Or is she a whole person with a soul, full of all the things that make a person human: strengths, weaknesses, quirks, fears, insecurities, anxieties, vulnerabilities, likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams?
The answer is obvious, yet it escapes so many men lost in our sex-and-skin-saturated culture. Whether by conscious choice or by years of overexposure that has conditioned an addiction, many men view women as objects to be consumed.
This trap is so easy to fall in to, most men don’t even realize they are doing it. I know for most of my life, I didn’t.
If you allowed yourself to be raised on soft-core pornography the way I did, your mind and body define attractiveness as body parts. You give a woman her worth based on her body parts and not much else. This is just as true for woman you see on a page or a screen as it is for women you see in real life.
It’s easy to stare at a photo or movie of a nude woman and create the perfect fantasy with her. You know nothing else about her! The reality is, she’d likely have zero interest in you in real life and you likely would be quite turned off by a variety of things about her as well. But it’s not real life. It’s fantasy.
But where do you live? You live in real life, not in fantasy. We all live in real life. So what happens when the way we view women is completely formed in fantasy then we get up from the computer to interact with women in real life?
Problems ensue, and ensue quickly.
If you’re married, these ensuing problems are obvious. If there’s one thing marriage does, it shows the full humanity of a woman and the full humanity of a man. There’s a reason our marriage vows say “for better or worse” in them: marriage is guaranteed to bring with it the best sides of a person, as well as the worst. There is no hiding in marriage—which is the exact opposite of pornography and lust.
So as a man, you know all of your wife’s flaws, you smell her breath in the morning, and you see her when she’s tired, stressed out, and without makeup. You see none of these things in pornography—or in the attractive woman you think is flirting with you at the receptionist counter. Fantasy then takes over and you assume this woman has none of these human imperfections.
As fantasy crashes headfirst into reality, logical thought goes out the window and obsession and longing ensue—a recipe for disaster in a marriage.
But the stakes aren’t any less if you’re single. Many single guys feel they have a license to lust since they aren’t married, as it doesn’t seem like they are harming anyone else. The sobering remedy to this line of thought is simple: if you’re conditioned to view women as objects meant for your consumption, how do you view my wife when she walks in the room? How do you view my daughters? What thoughts go through your head? Where do your eyes go?
If you are single and you feel this gives you the license to lust, please stay far away from me and my family. This mindset makes you an incredibly unsafe person to be around.
As Christians, we are called to be in trusting, dignity-giving community with one another. The only way to do this is to be serious about the damage our pattern of objectifying women does to everyone around us.
The solution to a mindset of objectification is to allow God to rewire the way our brains process the women we interact with. We obviously need to completely cut off the pornography as the “professor” who wired us to turn women into pieces of meat like this in the first place. But beyond the elimination of this force, we need to allow God’s healing and corrective touch to rebuild the way we were designed to view women.
Every woman you lust over is someone’s daughter. Would you want someone lusting over your daughter the way you lust over women? Obviously not—because you view your daughter as a whole person, not as a collection of body parts.
All of us, men and women, are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This is full humanity.
God tells us that the very definition of sex is two of these full humans coming together as one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Anything less that the full merger of these two humans falls short of God’s design for sex. “Full” meaning all of someone: the good and the bad, and definitely not just their body parts.
The reality is sex is not about body parts.
It’s about trust, safety and commitment—things that are completely foreign to lust.
God did not create women to be consumed, nor did he create you to consume them.
So next time you see a cute girl, don’t dehumanize her by placing her sole value on her physical appearance. And don’t let lust dehumanize you by turning you into this kind of consuming monster.
Sex and lust make lousy gods.
Ask the only God with any real power to heal you and put you on the path to loving all of his image-bearing children the way he loves you, and the way he loves your daughters.