Adjusting Our AccountabilityKyle Reardon has an important message for men on the societal views of women.
The Samaritan woman at the well had all of the markings of a woman shamed for her sexuality and sexual past. And yet in spite of all of this, Jesus saw her as a precious person; He spoke to her with dignity, as if she had inherent value. To Christ, she was so much more than the sexual object her culture saw her as. Today as a Christian culture, our views on women, especially in terms of their sexuality, may be the very same mindset Jesus was working against.
It’s time we as Christians face an uncomfortable truth: as a Christian culture, I believe we have repeatedly placed the guilt of sexual impurity and lust unfairly on women. Like the culture surrounding the Samaritan woman, we have reduced not only the women in the world—but also our sisters in Christ to sexual objects.
There is no shortage in our culture today of telling women, both young and old, what they can or cannot wear. Modesty guidelines, dress codes, and the inescapable burden of shame for wearing flattering clothes haunt women today. Or even worse, many women who are naturally busty in their figures are condemned no matter what they wear, scolded for simply having the bodies they have, and wearing the clothes that fit them. This condemnation runs rampant in Christian culture, and it all stems from the argument that it is both distracting to men, and rising lust in their eyes and hearts.
And there, brothers and sisters, is the true crux of the issue. We have been placing the blame of lustful eyes of men squarely upon women.
Today’s world favors men in a tragic way. And what’s even more heartbreaking is that our Christian culture—one based on justice—echoes this idea. It is an embarrassing fact that in the church today, a woman will be criticized for a low cut top while the lustful, leering eyes of men go unscolded.
It is unGodly and unBiblical to look at a woman and only see a sexual object rather than a person; a wonderful creation of God. Men, we must be held accountable; it should be of almost no consequence what a woman wears. If you are too focused on her body in the same way that a dog would drool over the cuttings in a butcher shop window, the problem is with you.
It is, however, undeniable that we as Christians all have the responsibility to treat our own bodies with respect. We choose what to wear because we know that it will present an image. We have a responsibility to show an image that reflects the creation God wills us to be. We all, men and women, have a responsibility to be mindful of that image and how we present it.
But instead of focusing on that ideal, instead of trying to understand our sisters in Christ, we have fallen into the trap of seeing a woman’s outfit and asking the same question as the world around us: “Is it sexy?” We are called to a different cultural view than the one we are allowing to rule our churches. It is time for Christian men and women to lead the cultural revolution of seeing women for people, and not as an assemblage of body parts. We must see them as thinkers, teachers, leaders, artists, builders, scientists, and not as objects only valued by our lustful tendencies.
Men, we must take the blame off of women for our lack of self-control. In a classroom example, who needs to adjust their thinking: the teen girl who wears tights under a long t-shirt, or the young man who can do nothing but stare at her body, seeing only an object of sexual desire?
We need to start within the church. We need to start as the youth of our church. Now is the time, as young people, to encourage and strengthen the young women around us, to help support them to their full potential as people. There is no age limit on our responsibility as Christians to one another, and the women of the world.
End the shame and blame against our sisters in Christ because we are too lazy to see them as more than just objects. Carry that respect into the world, to all women. Do not conform to the patterns of this world that see women as sexual props, prizes, and objects, but as the valued creations they are, as people of intrinsic value. See them as God sees them.