Christians usually take pride in their opposition to the sexual objectification and exploitation of women… but most Christians are completely unaware that they have been practicing and promoting the very thing they claim to oppose. Rather than recognizing the ways they are doing so, they have often codified sexual objectification into their rules and expectations for Christian thinking and conduct.
Here are five ways Christians sexually objectify women… and they just might surprise you:
Exactly why do we require women to cover this or that body part? Because those body parts are “sexual,” Right? That perception is sexually objectifying. Women are not a collection of “parts”—some sexual and some not—they are whole persons. As soon as we legislate that one body part must be treated “sexually,” we are sexually objectifying the whole woman.
#2 — The “Men Are Visual” Myth
Contrary to what we’ve all been told, God did NOT make men as primarily “visual” in their sexual interest and arousal (see this article). What we observe in men today is entirely conditioned behavior. It is our culture’s expectation that every man will treat the simple sight of a woman’s body as a sexual event and respond sexually, so that’s what they do. This false yet pervasive conditioning has normalized the sexual objectification of women, weaving it into our cultural fabric and, sadly, into Christian teaching and practice. The widespread adoption of visual stimulus for sexual arousal has paved a highway for the porn industry to explode, and has resulted in rampant sexual bondage even among those who desire to live a life pleasing to God.
#3 — Every Man’s Battle
Because the church so completely embraced #2 above, a new book and strategy invaded the Christian world a few years back… claiming that it could help men overcome sexual bondage. The core strategy from Every Man’s Battle tells men that they must constantly guard against any sight—in person or just an image—which might trigger lust. When it happens, they are instructed to “bounce their eyes” away from the sight so as to keep their heart pure. This means that every woman or image they see must be evaluated for its impact on that man sexually! If a man is sexually evaluating every woman he sees, he is most definitely sexually objectifying them.
#4 — A Wife’s “Sexy” Lingerie
Every wife longs to feel beautiful, attractive, and desirable to her husband. So, the use of seductive lingerie might seem like a good idea—and a lot of fun—to capitalize on the conditioned “visual” response in her husband as a part of sex play. However, I would suggest that by doing so, she is sexually objectifying her own body and serving to further reinforce the visual response in her husband to certain body parts of a woman. Much better and healthier would be to cultivate a relationally-based sexual arousal and fulfillment… which will serve to keep the couple’s sex life vibrant into their twilight years (see The Renewed View of the Body).
Of all the places where the God-given usage for breasts can be most openly expressed and observed, the church should be at the top of the list. Instead, however, churches often build “Cry rooms” so that nursing mothers can feed their babies without risking the exposure of their breasts to the men and boys in attendance. The church is treating breasts as if the perpetuation of their sexual objectification is more important than allowing the God-designed beauty of their maternal purpose to be seen. The inescapable message to men and women is that breasts are to be treated sexually… even when a mother is nursing.
If the church really wishes to impact society for truth and stand against the sexual objectification of women, then the people of God first need to take a hard look at their own core beliefs about the meaning of our physical embodiment as humans… male and female… in God’s image. We need to root out ways that we have embraced the false sexualized and pornographic view of the body, and start treating the human body with dignity and in harmony with truth.
— David Martin
Referenced in the image above:
Is Women’s Modesty the New Legalism Among Christians?
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