“Lord, That I May Receive My Sight”

Confronting Sexual Objectification in the Church

Reports of sex scandals in church settings, Adventism included, more often involving men of influence, reveal how power and position are used to exploit women. In many societies, there is a sense of entitlement in men that perpetuates rape culture. Put simply, sexual objectification refers to the viewing of another person as an instrument to be used for sexual goals. It occurs when a woman’s body or body parts are singled out and separated from her as a person and she is viewed primarily as a physical object of male sexual desire.[i] Objectification in general can be roughly defined as seeing and/or treating a person, usually a woman, as an object. The objectification of women encourages in men a sense of entitlement over women’s bodies as they evaluate women based on their appearance rather than competence.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11123

When modesty is wanting, these evil thoughts may be generated in the mind. The clothes one wears reflects the character to a degree.

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Interestingly, the Bible writers give a different advice, advice to the MEN with the evil thoughts, like:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matt 5:29)

It is very easy to blame the woman for causing something when in fact the evil comes out of one’s own heart:

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality…" (Mark 7:20-21)

The article pretty much argues that men are not animals, but they are responsible human beings that have to deal with their own inner world without placing their responsibility on others. However, in many churches it is as if men are still regarded as helpless apes and women as evolved temptress.

That’s maybe shocking to some, but we women have a sex drive as well, and we are responsible for our own thoughts, and nowadays that every male person seems to run into the gym 24/7 even if we are triggered by lets say the visible muscles of the men, we don’t blame the men. I have never heard a church committee discussing the inappropriateness of male clothes. And rightly so. I just want this to be the reality for women, too.

No, Chris, with all due respect, my dear brother, this watching who wears what and can therefore be blamed is not compatible with my view of humanity nor my experience.

Thank you, brother Admiral, for this article!

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1 Corinthians 8
“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

The article makes some good points about ultimately the responsibility for how a man views women is on him. As a man, it’s my responsibility to keep my thoughts pure. But what I didn’t see, I may have missed it, is that both sides can be true at once. Meaning, that a woman taking how her dress affects men into consideration does not mean she’s taking on the responsibility for his objectification of women. Following Paul’s advice above, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should care about how our actions impact others. In today’s world empowerment is used to tell us “be who you are” but this is no empowerment! True strength is Paul’s attitude, which is, I will sacrifice parts of my life in order to not be a hindrance to someone else’s walk.

Now of course there are limits to this, but God calls all of us to dress modestly, we are obligated to dress modestly because God asks us to. If we do that, we are respecting God, avoiding being a stumbling block to others, and living out biblical principles of true strength of character.

The above two principles are to be the guiding factors in dealing with this subject.
You have beautifully highlighted these!

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Dear @ABEN and @Yoyito:
Just a question: When was the last time that you witnessed a modesty dress talk addressed only to men or boys? In all my years at church this never happened once. Only women or girls were linked to this issue. The “we” in Yoyi’s sentence (“we are obligated to dress modestly”) is practically only applied to female persons in my reality. I would be glad if you have had other experiences.

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No matter the facts of life, there will continue to be men who just cannot accept their own responsibility towards women and continue to insinuate blame. Tis a rather sad state of affairs and harkens back to the original pair, ‘that women you gave me’. This article was excellent in pointing out a behavior that should be abhorrent to any self respecting male.

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that’s definitely how it was when i was growing up…the question of jewelry, also, was squarely a girl’s concern…

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Hello Kate, that’s a good point. Most talks of modestly are geared toward women, they should be for all. When I give Bible studies I always touch this issue (with young men and women). However, I could ask the same question about lust or pornography. How many messages about not consuming pornography have I heard directed at young ladies…0. How many have I heard for young boys/men…more than I can count.

It’s also the same reason Jesus specifically warned MEN about lustfully gazing at a woman and didn’t mention women. It’s not that it’s ok for a woman to do it, it’s because He knew that this is “generally” more of an issue for men, so it said it to them although it’s also wrong for a woman to look lustfully. Paul takes the same approach, it’s wrong for anyone to dress indecently or extravagantly, but generally immodesty is more of an issue with girls. I’m a youth leader and teenage boys generally dress very similar and not at all immodestly. Young girls however are much more likely to need to be reminded about modesty.

The principles are for all, but the Bible knows our separate tendencies and gears messages accordingly…

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Thanks Yoyi for your reply! I have two things to say.

First, I think there is a basic wrong assumption that women don’t have a sex drive as men have. If honest talks would happen, we all would be surprised, surprised at the number of women consuming pornopgraphy and many other things. Then an honest look at sexuality can happen. And I admit (and am generalizing) that we women are part of being not honest in this field. That results from being told by the church that something is wrong with us when we feel similar than men, and therefore we are very reserved to admit to ourselves and others that we are not that much different than men in this field. There is still no safe space at the moment in SDA churches to explore who we are, to admit it to ourselves and to others. In addition to that, many women, who were raised in the church, really don’t know and have never discovered their sexuality because they believed the picture that was presented to them by their churches. It is easier to see women as temptresses who can be blamed for male sexuality than as sexual creatures themselves.

Second, the article’s emphasis is against responsibility shifting. Nothing is wrong with observing my own actions and motives, but I agree with the article and don’t want to live in a world where everybody is constantly observing brethren to make sure they behave correctly, and more so when my first point is considered.

Hello Kate,

Under the section “Sex differences”, can be found this quote. There are a ton of articles out there that pretty much say the same thing.

Men, on average, have significantly higher sex drives and desire for sexual activity than women do; this also correlated with the finding that men report, on average, a larger total number of lifetime sexual partners,[17] although mathematicians say it is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women.[18] Sex drive was also related to sociosexuality scores, where the higher the sex drive the less restricted the sociosexual orientation, or the willingness to have sex outside of a committed relationship.[16] This was especially the case for women. Lippa utilized data from a BBC internet survey to examine cross-cultural patterns in sex differences for three traits: sex drive, sociosexuality, and height. These three traits all showed consistent sex differences across nations, although women were found to be more variable than men in their sex drive.[19] On average, male sexual desire remains stronger, more frequent, and longer into the life cycle than women’s.[1] Though women do not experience sexual desire as often as men, when they do, the intensity of the experience is equal to that of men.[9] Societal perceptions of men and women in addition to perceptions about acceptable sexual behaviour (e.g. men are more sexual and sometimes insatiable while women should be more reserved and almost nonsexual) may also contribute to expressed levels of sexual desire and expressed sexual satisfaction.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_desire#:~:text=Men%2C%20on%20average%2C%20have%20significantly,to%20have%20more%20partners%20on

Thanks for searching!

Societal perceptions of men and women in addition to perceptions about acceptable sexual behaviour (e.g. men are more sexual and sometimes insatiable while women should be more reserved and almost nonsexual) may also contribute to expressed levels of sexual desire and expressed sexual satisfaction.

This proves my point. Very interesting. Thanks again.

I’m not sure how. But maybe I’ve missed something. Or maybe I was overly focusing on that part of your comment where you wrote:

“First, I think there is a basic wrong assumption that women don’t have a sex drive as men have.”

If we are simply talking about sex drives. Men have a “significantly” higher sex drive than women.

The quote, that you shared, seems to be more balanced regarding female sexuality:

And then your quote said that how one expresses one’s own level of sexual desire can be a result of societal norms. In other words, society can play a role in shaping sexuality.

This is consistent with what I said. If we teach our men that they function as helpless apes and at the same time teach our women that they schizophrenically function as temptress without a real sexual desire, then of course we contribute to the blame game and responsibility shifting.

Thank you, Tony. I appreciate the exchange with you.

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I totally agree that societal norms play a role, possibly a big role, but I believe it to be more than that. However, I am curious now to research this more.

Thanks Kate.

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The topic will close in 3 days. If it is not weird for you, please feel free to send me a pm with your reasearch results. I also want to learn.

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You mentioned “when modesty is wanting…” who gets to decide that? Sounds like Men decide what is modest for a woman. Thus making decisions FOR her, again.

I as a woman, am not responsible for the thoughts of men…this is the blame game…like Adam said “the woman made me do it”. Men are accountable for their own thoughts and actions.

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Then I guess I am more of a “Christian” in the winter when more of my skin is covered, than in my summer wardrobe.

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My Question…what does sex drive percentages have to do with how women are treated? I’m sure they were just mentioned as info, but, in subject like this they would seem to be looking for some reason why men treat women in the way they do. Often times we just need to say something is wrong, period!

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Jar, I think I raised the issue first :woozy_face: … but in connection with female sexuality. I didn’t want to start an off topic discourse and only wanted to point out that we women also have a sex drive and still “behave” and don’t blame men for wearing muscle shirts or so. We usually don’t decide what is modest for men to wear. We leave that up to them and God. I just wanted to show that it is possible to be responsible for one’s own sexuality and don’t shift the responsibility.

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