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License to Lust: How Porn Trains Objectification

Last Updated: June 19, 2018

Noah Filipiak

Noah Filipiak is a pastor and the author of Beyond the Battle: A Man's Guide to his Identity in Christ in an Oversexualized World (Zondervan)He also hosts The Flip Side Podcast. If you desire to be free from lust, porn, and fantasy, you can join Noah and his team in an online small group at Beyond the Battle, or get the leader guide to run your own group.

What is a woman?

Is she a collection of body parts? Is she made of plastic? Or is she a whole person with a soul, full of all the things that make a person human: strengths, weaknesses, quirks, fears, insecurities, anxieties, vulnerabilities, likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams?

The answer is obvious, yet it escapes so many men lost in our sex-and-skin-saturated culture. Whether by conscious choice or by years of overexposure that has conditioned an addiction, many men view women as objects to be consumed.

This trap is so easy to fall in to, most men don’t even realize they are doing it. I know for most of my life, I didn’t.

License to Lust - How Porn Trains Objectification

If you allowed yourself to be raised on soft-core pornography the way I did, your mind and body define attractiveness as body parts. You give a woman her worth based on her body parts and not much else. This is just as true for woman you see on a page or a screen as it is for women you see in real life.

It’s easy to stare at a photo or movie of a nude woman and create the perfect fantasy with her. You know nothing else about her! The reality is, she’d likely have zero interest in you in real life and you likely would be quite turned off by a variety of things about her as well. But it’s not real life. It’s fantasy.

But where do you live? You live in real life, not in fantasy. We all live in real life. So what happens when the way we view women is completely formed in fantasy then we get up from the computer to interact with women in real life?

Problems ensue, and ensue quickly.

The Stakes

If you’re married, these ensuing problems are obvious. If there’s one thing marriage does, it shows the full humanity of a woman and the full humanity of a man. There’s a reason our marriage vows say “for better or worse” in them: marriage is guaranteed to bring with it the best sides of a person, as well as the worst. There is no hiding in marriage—which is the exact opposite of pornography and lust.

Related: The Essential Reason Pornography Is Wrong

So as a man, you know all of your wife’s flaws, you smell her breath in the morning, and you see her when she’s tired, stressed out, and without makeup. You see none of these things in pornography—or in the attractive woman you think is flirting with you at the receptionist counter. Fantasy then takes over and you assume this woman has none of these human imperfections.

As fantasy crashes headfirst into reality, logical thought goes out the window and obsession and longing ensue—a recipe for disaster in a marriage.

But the stakes aren’t any less if you’re single. Many single guys feel they have a license to lust since they aren’t married, as it doesn’t seem like they are harming anyone else. The sobering remedy to this line of thought is simple: if you’re conditioned to view women as objects meant for your consumption, how do you view my wife when she walks in the room? How do you view my daughters? What thoughts go through your head? Where do your eyes go?

Exactly.

If you are single and you feel this gives you the license to lust, please stay far away from me and my family. This mindset makes you an incredibly unsafe person to be around.

As Christians, we are called to be in trusting, dignity-giving community with one another. The only way to do this is to be serious about the damage our pattern of objectifying women does to everyone around us.

Related: Myth Busters– “I’ll stop looking at porn when I get married”

The Solution

The solution to a mindset of objectification is to allow God to rewire the way our brains process the women we interact with. We obviously need to completely cut off the pornography as the “professor” who wired us to turn women into pieces of meat like this in the first place. But beyond the elimination of this force, we need to allow God’s healing and corrective touch to rebuild the way we were designed to view women.

Every woman you lust over is someone’s daughter. Would you want someone lusting over your daughter the way you lust over women? Obviously not—because you view your daughter as a whole person, not as a collection of body parts.

All of us, men and women, are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This is full humanity.

God tells us that the very definition of sex is two of these full humans coming together as one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Anything less that the full merger of these two humans falls short of God’s design for sex. “Full” meaning all of someone: the good and the bad, and definitely not just their body parts.

The reality is sex is not about body parts.

It’s about trust, safety and commitment—things that are completely foreign to lust.

God did not create women to be consumed, nor did he create you to consume them.

So next time you see a cute girl, don’t dehumanize her by placing her sole value on her physical appearance. And don’t let lust dehumanize you by turning you into this kind of consuming monster.

Sex and lust make lousy gods.

Ask the only God with any real power to heal you and put you on the path to loving all of his image-bearing children the way he loves you, and the way he loves your daughters.

  • Comments on: License to Lust: How Porn Trains Objectification
    1. Greg on

      Great post! Something a lady shared goes along well with this (http://goodwomenproject.com/dating/10-lies-we-believe-about-interactin-with-the-opposite-sex):

      “I would wager that if men and women spent more time interacting in a low-pressure environment with the opposite sex, the desire to rely on pornography as a source of relief would decrease. Is it a scientific fact? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying. But from my perspective, it seems as though we’re getting more and more uncomfortable with each other while the percentage of pornography users in the church grows. This problem is an essay for another day, but essentially, porn is crippling men and women, stunting their relational abilities while placing incredible pressures on the opposite sex.”

      The way I see it, two things have essentially disappeared (or are rapidly disappearing) from our society:

      * Honest communication between men and women–the only thing that will dispel the lies, misconceptions, and truths we hide about ourselves and each other.

      * Opportunities to interact in safe, non-sexual settings.

      Reply
      • Noah Filipiak on

        Great insights Greg, thank you! I think you’re hitting on a good point that sex has basically become the only priority in male/female relationships, for many men at least. When guys objectify women, we are obviously doing it solely based on sexual appeal. It’s not like guys are objectifying a woman because she’s so funny they just have to be around her, right? When in reality, obviously relationships (both romantic and non-romantic) between men and women encompass sooo much more than sex–in most cases, 100% of the relationship has nothing to do with sex. Yet many men have been conditioned to only see women sexually…so yes, we are then unable to relate on any other level, greatly damaging our ability to have normal healthy relationships, friendships and community. All the while we are being morphed into these scary, selfish monsters that only look to consume women rather than selflessly seeing all women as image-bearers of God, full of the dignity and full humanity that he created them with.

      • Stevie on

        This thought goes along with what I also believe to be a issue in church and groups, or even just in society in general. The focus of men only groups or women only groups, even youth groups meant for boys or the girls only. The problem also arises when we do not include everyone of age, gender etc., in social settings and group settings. They set us apart Instead of bringing unity together one in all, hand in hand, brothers and sisters helping and learning and sharing together the way we are all created to be, relationships and intimacy (non sexual) with one another.

      • Bobby on

        This helped a lot and I’m not even a Christian.

    2. John Winstanley on

      Great article Noah. It is funny, I am about to talk about lust at a christian high school, and I was going to use the title: “Lust: A Battle to Fight”…I guess great minds think alike :). I caught guys looking at my wife at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago…they didn’t know that her husband was looking at them while they were looking at her. As her husband I felt robbed and cheated that they would take the image of my wife and, as you put it, dehumanize her. I realize that this is how God must feel when we look at women that are not our wives…He says “Don’t look at her that way…that’s my daughter.”

      Reply
      • Noah Filipiak on

        Thanks a lot John. Yeah it definitely puts sexual sin into sobering reality when it’s happening to us, i.e. our wives or daughters. I will occasionally listen to the “Dan Patrick Show” on sports radio. The guy is in his 60s and speaks lustfully about Sports Illustrated swimsuit models who are 20 years old, and this is seen as normal in our culture. But then on the very same note, I know he is married and has several daughters. I guarantee he wouldn’t let people talk about his daughters the way he does these swimsuit models, and why? Because his daughters are actual humans to him, whereas the swimsuit models are only objects. Then you boil that down even further and it’s pretty scary the condition of our souls as men that that type of lusting does to us. I criticize Dan Patrick because he’s a national voice and is talking about this stuff publicly, but it’s no different for us. Just like those guys lusting over your wife and you can see right through that into the monster-like mentality of consuming a human as an object, rather than seeing them as the full human God created them to be. Meanwhile, just like you say, every woman is God’s daughter created in his image, but instead of us seeing them that way, we consume and consume and consume! Praise God the conviction of his Holy Spirit to us to stop this destructive sin (destructive to these women and to our own hearts), and praise Him for giving us healing and a path to wholeness where we are no longer conditioned to view women this way.

    3. Ashley on

      Thank you for writing this article. I do agree wholeheartidly with all you say here. I’m so glad there are men that see us women as God’s daughters, and not as objects. I only hope more men will see us this way, more men will set examples, and mentor. I have two daughters and I don’t want them to objectified by some guy that is ignorant to the truth. I’m glad you are protective of your family. Stay that way. I love what Covenent Eye is doing for the men and even women. Keep up the good work! The comment left by John was so profound. In his last sentence he says he realized that’s how God must feel when men look at women other than their wives…”He says, “Don’t look at her that way, that’s my daughter.” I abosultly love that!! That speaks so loud!! Thank you for that insight.

      Reply
      • Noah Filipiak on

        Thanks a lot Ashley. I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old daughter and I think about this a lot as well, especially with how innocent my girls are at the ages they are. It shows what sin actually does to a man’s mind in comparison to how God designed us to view one another. Thank you for the encouragement. Keep praying for your daughters and pray for the men that they will date and potentially marry.

    4. Leighellen on

      I appreciate your comment on the Dan Patrick Show. As a wife of a husband who is an avid sports nut and fantasy team owner of practically every sport out there, he listens to and watches multiple sports shows every day. Those shows disgust me because of the way they talk about women. From the “bracketology of hot girls” during basketball season to the swimsuit issue to the football cheerleader calendars. When I wake up in the morning, it’s the first thing I hear! And the websites are even worse, they all have links to porn sites, erection pills, and chat rooms. Can’t a guy just listen to sports without being pulled into an affair? Unfortunatley, men just can’t avoid the visuals when trying to simply listen and read about sports. It’s a shame because I’m sure men are more than just hormones that crave women, but you are just as conditioned that this is what is “normal” because that is what is fed to you. I believe it desensitizes men and helps create that consumer mentality. I wish there was a Christian Sports Network! Or at least an honorable one.

      Reply
      • Stevie on

        I agree. What could be done about this? The national center of sexual exploration ncose.org might could help with laws regarding this issue. What major media is it flowing from?

    5. Harry Schaumburg on

      Know that all sexual sinners are more harassed by a deceitful heart than past childhood experiences, no matter how horrific.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Absolutely. I think it was David Powlison who asked the question this way: “Are we more fundamentally deprived or fundamentally depraved?” In the end, we have to understand that no matter how we have been wounded by the world (and many of us have been deeply wounded), our depravity is our gravest problem.

    6. Proposal Editor on

      Your article is very educative. Let me be honest and say that I agree with you on everything you’ve written. Yes! Women are NOT consumables! Thanks a lot for sharing.

      Reply
    7. Cole on

      Yes. I really don’t like how many claim that porn doesn’t cause objectification even though that’s literally the entire point of it.

      Reply
    8. Hiaim on

      This is truly a great post. You explained it very well. Woman are not an object they also have feelings, anxieties, likes and dislike. after watching adult movies what we think about womens is an object,for use and thow. This is the cause of movies. Thanks for this post.
      Keep sharing this type of posts.

      Reply
    9. Margs on

      How do you think women objectify men? I have found myself asking this over the past few weeks! What is a beautiful example of non objectification of the opposite sex? Do you know of any lovely articles, books, scriptures that would share truth on this matter for us ladies? May the Lord graciously change us and make us more like Jesus, for His glory!

      Reply
    10. Terry Vander Molen on

      Good ideas!

      Reply
    11. Terry Vander Molen on

      I like it!

      Reply
    12. Stevie on

      One of the best articles about addressing objectification and lust!

      Reply

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