Since the Champaign-Urbana Vineyard men’s retreat last weekend, several men have confessed that they struggle powerfully with objectifying women. It has become a deeply ingrained habit that started for them at a young age. You can objectify women you have never met, and sad to say, you can objectify your own wife. The spectrum of objectification is wide.
The bottom line is this: When a man objectifies a woman, he lusts after her body with the intention of keeping his power over her. (In a marriage it’s true that a man enjoys having power over his wife, and retaining his power is part of the pursuit that he enjoys within the confines of his marriage. Still, it must be done with the utmost regard for his wife and her desires and preferences. There’s never a time that a man should forget that Jesus Christ himself is the head of that marriage.)
Now, a woman doesn’t know that a man lusts after her body with the intention of keeping his power, but it’s the awful truth. (A woman has responsibility here, too, but that’s for a different essay. Just think for a second of the skimpy, alluring attire of many women — even well-intentioned Christian women.)
To understand this desire for power a man has, one merely need to go back to the Fall of humankind when the Lord God said to the woman, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." When a man lusts after and objectifies a woman, he rules over her. It’s a sick, habitual sin that entraps many a man, before and after they are married.
"So how do I overcome this habitual habit I have?" one man asked me.
I have two ideas. First, a verse, and then a thought:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)
The thought: Each morning when men read the Word and pray they need to say honestly to the Lord, "Crucify and destroy any part of my mind or body that is not of you; crucify my lustful thoughts and keep me from taking them into my day; and then, Lord God, make me more like you."
Add to Bible reading and a willingness to have the self crucified … accountability to another man on a regular (weekly) basis, which includes confession of sin; throw in a huge dose of personal humility, and then, and only then, do you have the recipe of having a fighting chance for conquering the sin of habitually objectifying women.
Just for emphasis, let me say it negatively: Men who do not read the word regularly, pray and ask the Lord to crucify their sinful sexual desires, allow themselves to be held accountable (which will include answering tough questions and confession) on about a weekly basis and live in a state of constant and deep humility, will not overcome and conquer their sexually-driven behaviors.
You can take that one to the bank!