Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Objectification of Women – Part 2

So, gentlemen… how much of a woman’s body has to be covered before you can look at her without lust?

How you answer will tell us how much—and what parts—of a woman’s body you objectify.

Is it her breasts? Her legs? Her butt? Her belly? All of the above?

Let Me Be Very Honest with You…

For many years, I objectified women’s breasts as a sexual turn-on. So long as they were covered, I did not have a problem with lustful thoughts when I saw and/or interacted with a woman. But if I ever saw them exposed (even if only partially), it was “automatic” sexual thoughts and arousal.

Even in my sexual relationship with my wife, I tended to focus on her breasts as a trigger for my arousal and fulfillment. In other words, I was objectifying my own wife. When we entered into the sex act, I ceased interacting with the person who is my wife (with whom I share a deep relationship), and started using her as a sex object for my own sexual satisfaction.

Dare I look upon any woman as if the sight of her breasts trumps her personhood? No woman deserves that… not even my wife!

Sex is, at its core, about relationship. God established this in Gen. 2:24 when He said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” The “one flesh” sexual union is divinely decreed as a physical expression of the newly established marriage relationship.

To be sure, a woman’s body is visually attractive, but her body is an expression of her person. To define any part of a woman’s body according to its sexual impact upon us is to objectify her body and demean her personhood!

Wouldn’t every woman rather know that it was her real self that attracted and aroused her husband, not just her body parts? Wouldn’t that be more honoring and fulfilling relationally… for husband and wife?

Men, if there is any part of a woman’s body to which you only have a sexual response, then you are objectifying that part of the woman. If you objectify any part of a woman, you objectify the woman, for she is a whole person… spirit, soul, and body.

In Part 1 of this series, I addressed the societal objectification of women and their bodies. Here in Part 2, I am asking you to ponder the personal objectification of women’s bodies in your own heart.

There may be little or no hope for a wholesale transformation of society in this matter. However, if we are willing to take a hard look within our own hearts and minds—and endeavor to address what we discern there—we will find that the truth really does have the power to transform us. A woman’s body parts are not about sex. They are beautiful expressions of the person that God created her to be. We must appreciate the beauty without divorcing it from the complete person she is. When we do, we will finally be innocent of the objectification of women.

So… What Does This Have to Do with Naturism?

First of all, as I pointed out in Part 1, naturists—probably more consistently than any other definable group—do not objectify women’s bodies. They simply do not consider a sexual response to the sight of a woman’s body to be appropriate in a social context, let alone “automatic.” They treat every woman—no matter the size or shape of her body—with acceptance, dignity, and respect. To become a naturist, you must lay aside the objectification in your own heart.

Secondly, if a man never sees any nudity except in a sexual context, it may prove very difficult for him to really break free from the body-part/sexual-response association in his mind. However, the very experience of social nudity (which is not a sexual context) will very quickly cast out the false expectations of a sexual response to the mere sight of a woman’s unclothed body. There is probably no quicker cure.

If, for whatever reason, real social nudity is not possible for you to experience, then at very least spend as much time as possible with your own wife—both of you naked—when sex is not on the agenda. Grow accustomed to relating to her as a person non-sexually even while you can see every inch of her body. You’ll find that it’s really not that difficult. And have no fear that you will not be able to “perform” if you get “too accustomed” to seeing her naked… when you’re both in the mood for sex, relational arousal beats visual arousal any day!

A Higher Calling

Of all people in the world, we as Christian men should be leading the way… treating women with their true God-given dignity. Let us repent of our sin and conquer it in our own hearts. Let us train our sons (and daughters) to honor all women… refusing to be swayed or infected by our culture’s objectifying pattern of thoughts and responses. And let us demonstrate to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ that there is a more godly and biblical understanding of our bodies than that which our church tradition has taught us.

— Matthew Neal

P.S. Don’t ever refer to any woman as “hot.” It’s a term of objectification. It has no place in the vocabulary of a godly man.

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See also:

The Objectification of Women - Part 1

Naturist by Biblical Conviction

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