A reader writes in:
Can you talk about the idea of objectification? I hear people use this word in regards to lust, porn, cat-calling, etc. but I’m not entirely sure I see sexual immorality as objectifying. Is objectification really the problem most men have in their views of women? If we ran through the gamut of sexual sin, do they all involve degrading a woman to an object? Is commitment the only thing that makes it not objectification. Maybe you get what I’m driving at? I just never understood that word and how exactly we objectify women in modern culture. For instance, to praise a women on her beauty is often considered objectification because it’s assuming she has no power of agency and is merely an object to be looked at.
You gotta go back to the basics to understand this.
If an attractive man (or celebrity) “cat calls” a woman and she recognizes him, she’s going to think it’s flattering. If an unattractive man (say a homeless man) does the same thing she’s going to think it’s creepy. Women love to get the attention of attractive men with their beauty but hate when unattractive men do the same thing. Cat calls are corny and crass, so I would not recommend Christians do them anyway. But the point remains.
The problem is not with “objectification” but rather the context of who is doing the objectifying. It’s a great thing for a husband and wife to objectify each other in that they’re sexually attracted to various traits and aspects of each other. If you burn with passion and want to marry, it’s a good thing to have that sexual attraction toward your wife. As with a wife, think she looks amazing or sexy? It’s fine to express it, as long as you’re not committing fornication or lacking self control with her (if not married).
Immorality of lust and porn are not sins because you’re objectifying in them. Lust (or rather coveting in the NT) is about desiring wife that isn’t yours (or woman if you’re married). Lack of self control and warring against the flesh. There is reason the idea that it creates unreasonable expectations just like romance novels do with women too.
Overall, I would ignore everything that “modern culture” says about any topic. You’ll always find that modern culture presents numerous double standards in behavior, usually in the favor of pedestalizing or idolizing women. The goal is to be conformed to Christ, and it’s clear that culture is almost always diametrically opposed to what Christ says.