Over the years, I’ve engaged in a few debates in the comments section of my blog. Most of the time, myself and the commenter can clarify our thoughts, find areas of agreement, and walk away feeling like we might not be on the same page but it’s all good anyway. (At least that’s how I feel about it.)
But a few topics trigger a more visceral response in me, because they’re aren’t simply disagreements but, I believe, harmful statements. Today, I want to tackle the term “sex object.”
I have been told repeatedly by men — Christian men — that women are meant to be sex objects and that this term is a compliment. Let’s take an honest look at those statements:
- Women are meant to be sex objects.
- Calling a woman a “sex object” is a compliment.
Why some men say that yes, women are sex objects.
I’ve read articles from both Christian and secular men who argue that women are supposed to be sex objects for men. Indeed, those who use the Bible to make their point argue it’s God-given nature for a man to see a woman as a sex object.
Their case come down to these claims:
- “Object” merely means something that can be seen and touched, and women qualify.
- We use objects and people for our purposes all the time (e.g., using a stylist for a haircut or a mechanic for a car repair).
- Men are visual, so their “use” of people can and will involve looking at women for the purpose of sexual arousal or appreciation.
- Since sex is part of marriage, husbands will and should look at their wives as sex objects — something tangible used to stimulate and satisfy sexual desire.
- Being viewed as a sex object is thus a compliment, because it shows a woman is useful for one of her primary purposes for men and in marriage.
Here’s the first problem — you’re defining the wrong thing.
Sometimes the meaning of a term is different from the two words that make it up. Consider how “table” could mean all kinds of things (conference table, pool table, bedside table), but when I tell my son to take his plate to the “dinner table,” he’s missed the point if he sets up to eat at a ping-pong table.
Likewise, “sex object” has its own definition, separate from “object.” Here’s how dictionaries define sex object:
- “a person regarded by another only in terms of their sexual attractiveness or availability
- “a person viewed or treated as a means of obtaining sexual gratification” (Collins).
- “a person regarded especially exclusively as an object of sexual interest” (Merriam-Webster)
- “a person viewed as being of little interest or merit beyond the potential for providing sexual gratification” (Random House).
- “someone who is valued only as a sexual partner or for being sexually attractive” (MacMillan).
These definitions focus on treating someone as their value being mostly or entirely wrapped up in their sexual attraction or ability to gratify the person looking at them.
“Sex object” doesn’t say, “I recognize you as a person apart from your ability to satisfy me,” but rather views the person through a purely selfish and sexual perspective.Sex object doesn't say, 'I recognize you as a person apart from your ability to satisfy me,' but rather views the person through a purely selfish and sexual perspective. Click To Tweet
Secondly, we don’t “use” people all the time — or at least shouldn’t.
Yes, we make use of services and products provided by others, but we don’t walk into a shop or an office unaware that this person has a life outside their chosen vocation. I certainly hope my readers don’t think I exist merely to dole out sex advice, even though that’s exactly the role I play in many of their lives.
Moreover, to compare the way I use a fork to the way I use my hairstylist is insulting. As if I cannot distinguish that those made in God’s image are on a different level of intrinsic value. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-26: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” We use food and clothes, but God says confirms our lives and our bodies are more valuable than that.
So yes, we can use the services and objects people offer, but we shouldn’t use them. In a marriage, you might say we make use of the sexual gifts we offer one another — for arousal and gratification — but your spouse has deeper value.
Men are visual, but sight is not their only input.
I believe it’s generally true that men are more visual, although women certainly can be visual too. So when someone makes an argument that a man is more likely to notice a women’s appearance, I buy that. What I don’t buy is that all of his other senses and his ability to think about anything but appearance flat-line in that moment.
How do I know this isn’t true? Because men see absolutely gorgeous female relatives in an entirely different way. (And if they don’t, we rightly condemn that perspective.) Now of course, this comes far more naturally with relatives. However, I’m merely establishing here that men can attend to other factors as well.
But Proverbs 11:22 advises against seeing only the physical aspect of women: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” If the Bible didn’t think men could rely on something other than the visual, why bother giving the warning?
An emotionally healthy, spiritually holy man can discern that a woman is beautiful while appreciating other aspects of her. Indeed, this is how all the wonderful husbands I know act toward their wives. Hey, it’s perfectly fine to view one’s spouse as attractive and sexy, but that’s not everything about them. Indeed, your spouse’s appeal will be greater if they are also the kind of person you enjoy being around.
Sexual desire and sexual objectification in marriage aren’t the same.
Those who argue husbands will and should look at their wives as sex objects because they are used to stimulate and satisfy sexual desire miss something big: that desire and objectification are not the same.
Objectification is “the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object,” while desire can be defined as a “strong sexual feeling or appetite.” And which one does the Bible use? “I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10). Thank heavens it didn’t say, “I belong to my husband, and he objectifies me.”
Now a legitimate point I’ve heard from husbands is that when they say, “sex object,” they mean “object of my desire.” I get that, and I believe that’s what some of them intend to say.
Except that’s not what “sex object” means — see definitions above. It’s like one day discovering that it’s not “intensive purposes” but “intents and purposes”; sure, you meant the right thing, but you should still correct your choice of words to convey your meaning accurately.
“Sex object” is not a compliment to most women.
Perhaps the most iconic “sex object” ever was Marilyn Monroe. Admittedly, she played up her sexuality for the sake of her career and likely enjoyed some of the attention she received as a result. But even she understood it’s not really a compliment: “That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing!”'That's the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing!' - Marilyn Monroe | Are Women Meant to Be Sex Objects? Click To Tweet
Whether it’s something a man understands or not, most of us ladies do not want to be thought of as a thing, a symbol, a sex object. While I encourage wives to own their beauty and sexuality, it’s only one part of us. We’re many-layered beings with so much to appreciate, including but definitely not limited to our sexual appeal to our husbands.
And for heaven’s sakes, men, don’t tell a woman how she should feel about you ascribing this phrase to her. That’s like slapping someone and saying, “You should like it.” Because it’s a verbal slap to many women, so of course we don’t like it.
A wife should absolutely be the focus of her husband’s sexual desire, but she is neither his nor anyone else’s “sex object.” Because she’s not an object. She’s a child a God, a daughter of the King.
63 thoughts on “Are Women Meant to be “Sex Objects”?”
I completely agree J. I don’t even use the term object of my desire but rather the one I love is the object of my affection. As she holds the key to my heart, she also holds the sole “title” of being the one I am affectionate with.
As a Christian apologist, I have many people email me and message me questions. I love to answer them and I love what I do, but many times, that is all they want me for. I’m just an answer man. I recall someone from a ministry contacting me to help the ministry answer several questions. After awhile, I decided I wanted to help, but I have my own needs too. I told the person I would be glad to help them, but in return, my wife and I struggle financially. Could they be willing to offer us some financial assistance in exchange for my services?
That was the last I ever heard from that person. They had no interest in that. That’s very demeaning.
My wife to me is absolutely gorgeous. There is no secret that I want to have sex with her. I think about sex multiple times a day. It is one of the great mysteries of the universe to me.
But I also try to take care of my wife as a person in her own right. If she mentions she wants something, I’m cleaning out the Amazon account very quickly to provide for her. I still hold open the car doors for her and pull out seats for her in public places. I love walking arm in arm or hand in hand with her in public. I post love messages to her every day on Facebook except Sunday when I don’t post at all.
The important thing also is we are both to satisfy one another’s needs. If we both do this, there is no problem. My wife not only meets my need for sex, but she is always striving to make me a better person and she has changed me in many ways to bring that about. My wife could do in one year of marriage what many people could not do though they had spent a couple of decades trying.
And if anyone dared to try to treat my wife as a sex object, my words are God have mercy on them because I sure won’t. There’s a rule on Facebook that if you insult my wife, you’d better be ready. I have zero tolerance and I will show up and I will deal with you. It will not be pretty. Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk awfully quickly.
My wife is wonderful, but she is no object. She is a person in the image of God.
By those definitions, I would certainly not use them to describe how men should regard their wives. The reason is because of the words “exclusively” and “only” used in those definitions. Of course no man of any conscience at all would ever want a woman purely for sex. So by the wording of those definitions I was certainly incorrect to say that women are sex objects.
Now, can women accept that it’s perfectly ok to be physically attractive, and that this physical attraction causes sexual desire in their husband? This is the method by which God causes nearly 100% of marriage relationships to begin. Definitions aside, I see so many women that believe any physical attraction is purely sinful and that men are terrible and ungodly because of it. You aren’t more righteous because you are less physically stimulated.
We can debate terms all we want, but I think the reason most men cling to this is because we are very tired of being judged as less spiritual because we were made differently than women in this regard. I lived most of my life ashamed of this sex drive that I have, being told by feminism, the culture, and even the church that the way I am is wrong and should be beaten into the ground. I think this teaching is wrong and is partly to blame for the huge mess we are in as a church when it comes to sex.
So yes, women aren’t sex objects by those definitions, but they are far more closer to those definitions than most women would like, and I’m convinced that this isn’t a negative thing.
J, thank you for taking on hard topics and being well thought out in your posts. Your perspective as a woman, even when I don’t agree, is extremely helpful to me.
Thanks, Brian! If I can convince men to at least stop using that term, then that would be lovely! Yes, I agree that physical attraction and/or “chemistry” are big factors in bringing couples together, and I obviously believe that sexual desire is an important aspect of the marriage bond (or what’s the point of this blog?). However, no husband needs to use the term “sex object” to say that. It’s not helping his case anyway.
This post was helpful to me because I have a lot of wrong ideas. Many of them are from my childhood/teen years, and some are from paying too much attention to our culture. A lot of them are from internet sources on marriage, and some are from a horrible book I read by an author that claims to be opening the eyes of women, but she nearly destroyed me and severely damaged my marriage in the process. Anyhow, the point is, I have a lot of wrong ideas.
I’m not attractive. Or let me phrase it this way, I do not believe I am attractive. Or cute, or pretty, or beautiful, or whatever word you want to use. Boys did not line up to date me in high school. I’ve heard the whole song and dance about “you were too intimidating…” thing, but that’s just “feel good” nonsense. My sisters made sure I knew it was because I was ugly. And so, I figured – for the longest time – that I was pretty much worthless.
My husband couldn’t seem to understand WHY I thought I was worthless when he loves me for me. I figured he must NOT love me, because he didn’t see me as just a sex object. The lies fed the beliefs and the beliefs fed the lies. What does J call it? Confirmation bias? I can confirm anything with my good friend Google. It’s not wise, but it’s easy. I have to fight against it.
Anyhow, my point is, I grew up with the belief that a woman’s value is in her sexual attractiveness. I also grew up being told I was ugly and therefore, worthless. I understand now that this is wrong, but it’s a hard thing to shake.
This post helped me understand some things. I should be glad my husband doesn’t see me as a sex object. He will have sex with me (though I have the higher drive so that complicates things and is another self esteem killer that I’m learning to fight) but I don’t think he sees me as a sex object or the object of his desire. Object of his affection, yes. Desire, no. I don’t think so. So I need to learn to be happy with being the object of his affection, regardless of desire levels.
I would get annoyed with all of the attractive women who constantly complain that they don’t want to be seen as sex objects. I feel they are so blessed to be seen as pretty and worthy and they reject it. The issue is because I didn’t understand the meaning of the term “sex object”. I am one of the dumb women who thought it was a compliment. I Mean, who wouldn’t want to be considered pretty? I was very much confusing the two.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have the yearning to know, just once, what it’s like to be desired by a man (preferably my husband) – but this post makes me wonder if maybe I’ve been looking at things all wrong.
Yes and Amen. And let that be the end of that.
How any man can think calling someone an object of any type, let alone a sex object, can be flattering is beyond me.
And no Brian, that’s not how God brings nearly 100% of couples together. Isaac never saw his wife before they married and Rebecca didn’t see Isaac before she agreed to marry him. Even today there are arranged marriages where the people are perfectly happy. We had an Indian postdoc recently who recounted the story of his scandalous love marriage. Because arranged marriages are still the norm for his caste. We have Chinese students who dissappear for a month and come back with a wife too. I don’t think those were initiated by sexual attraction either. It’s actually a rather poor method of picking a spouse if you think about it.
Alchemist, you know I almost added “in the modern western world” to that sentence, but I didn’t think anyone would actually think we are talking about non-US marriages in this thread.
Now, if you want to debate whether or not arranged marriages were less “sex object” oriented we can go there if you want. I don’t think this argument would do very well though. Women in these situations really were considered more akin to property than a thinking, feeling being with desires of her own. In many cases the husband didn’t even get to know anything about the personality of his future wife, only what she looked like and what family she came from.
If anything, arranged marriages are a huge point of evidence that sex and vows are all that is needed to have a lifelong commitment in marriage, and are a testament to the amazing power of the male sex drive. Sex came first, and later they would grow to know each other. The fact that this was the rule for 99% of human history Is pretty amazing to think about.
Brian, you say: …“are a testament to the amazing power of the male sex drive.” What do you mean by this? I don’t feel like it is a testament to the amazing male drive, any more than it is a testament to, well… the God given design of women, men, God’s image bearers in general. ? and proves the fact that marriage is successful primarily based on the commitment level of the two involved.
Just honestly curious what was meant by that statement.
AnonymousWoman, yes it’s all of that. God designed men with this sex drive, and designed women to be attractive to us, and designed us to fit together to make a wonderful union. What I’m saying about arranged marriages is that a man could literally never talk to a woman before his wedding day, and if he finds her physically attractive he is capable of instantly falling in love and making love with her that night. That’s pretty amazing to me.
But here’s the thing, Brian: That’s true for both genders. And I think that’s about the excitement of the differences in our bodies and the way man and woman come together as complements — both in bed and in life.
Yes to what J said. It really goes both ways. Men are attracted to the feminine (which may start with but goes beyond looks, and women are attracted to the masculine, which also goes beyond looks) I think maybe you’re reacting against feminist culture to prove that masculinity is awesome (which it is, and I totally get that our culture is breaking down godly genders) Like 1 Cor 11:11 says, “nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord.”
alchemist, arranged marriages don’t mean “blind marriages”. I had many Indian and Pakistani friends in college, who had arranged marriages. They still got to meet their prospective spouses before they married them, or at least saw what they look like. So I’m in agreement with Brian that most marriages happen due to the physical attraction of a man towards a woman.
Also, even though the arrange marriages stay together in India more than non-arranged marriages in the US, there are many affairs and mistresses in India, so a low divorce rate there isn’t very impressive.
So I don’t know exactly what y’all mean by “marriages happen due to the physical attraction of a man towards a woman.” If you’re saying that God gave men a physical desire to be with a woman, okay, sure. I believe that. But if you’re saying that Man X chooses Woman Y to marry because her looks turn him on, that’s not at all what I see in relationships. Of course attraction is an important aspect, but it’s not why marriage happens. That marriage happens because men want women what — what we all want: committed, lasting love. And he believes this person is the one he can love like that and that she will love him too. That committed, lasting love involves sexual desire and intimacy, but love is what seems to underlie it all.
Brian and I were referring to marriages worldwide. The US comprises just 4% of the world’s population, Canada not even one-half of 1%. There are plenty of countries where marriage is chosen based on love, but I would venture to say that some kind of arranged marriage (to a varying degree of “arranged”) still rules the day. And for these marriages, a man’s physical attraction to the woman may very well be the #1 criteria.
But even in the US and Canada, physical attraction is what usually kicks things off. And it’s usually a man’s physical attraction for a woman that matters more in kicking things off than vice versa.
Okay, that makes sense to me. But then physical attraction isn’t the reason men marry; it’s the reason they pursue women, and then they find The One who fulfills a lot of criteria and marry her. 🙂
To be honest I absolutely believe that men marry because they are turned on by the woman. It’s the catalyst that starts the entire ball rolling. I would be willing to bet that if you removed physical attraction from the equation in the United States that 99% of marriages wouldn’t exist. This is only my opinion, but I don’t think men would take the chance on giving up thier freedom just to have a lasting, loving relationship with a woman without physical attraction at the center of it. This is why God gave men a sex drive.
I could have a lasting, loving relationship with a man that would probably be far more easy and fulfilling in many ways. We would think the same, have far more similar interests, and have a great time together. Men’s sex drive is probably God’s greatest gift to both men AND women for this very reason, because otherwise why on earth would a man risk everything?
So yes, I absolutely believe that without men’s physical attraction to women that we would all be living completely separate lives. Thank God that we aren’t.
I’m not saying that physical attraction is the only thing a man should consider, and there are far too many men that did that and ended up with a terrible woman. I’m saying that without that physical attraction he wouldn’t ever stop to consider those other qualities in the first place most likely.
If you read the story of Jacob and Rachel, he saw her and was immediately smitten with her. There is no mention of him talking to her, getting to know her, or anything of the sort. It seems to me that he knew he wanted to marry her the first second he laid eyes on her, to the point of being willing to work for 7 years for her hand in marriage. Now I ask you, was that less romantic or Godly? It might be a little foolish, but it proves the point that men will do almost anything when they are high on endorphins as a result of strong physical attraction.
Brian, do you have any idea how this comes across? “I don’t think men would take the chance on giving up their freedom just to have a lasting, loving relationship with a woman without physical attraction at the center of it.” I think we’re actually not that far apart here, but I want you to recognize that by “giving up their freedom,” men get better health, children, the benefit of “two is better than one,” and someone who pushes them to grow in a way that other men will not. Our femininity and masculinity are complements to one another, not just our sexual parts. Yes, I’m super-glad God gave us hot and holy sex! I mean, hey, that’s a very important ingredient of marriage! But when you talk about giving up freedom for the sake of physical attraction (aka sex), it makes it sound like men are martyring themselves for the sake of getting some. And I’m pretty sure that’s not what you actually think. Is it?
J, I’m not for a minute saying that a man is better of single and with his freedom than he is in a loving, fulfilling, lasting marriage. I’m saying that there is a huge risk to any man that he won’t get a loving, fulfilling, lasting marriage and so it’s a large risk he is taking by going into marriage. The divorce rate is around 30%, and far more than that stay in an unhappy marriage. Almost every man has seen thier father, brother, friend, or some other man end up burned by going into a marriage that ended up more like hell than the heaven it was supposed to be, and so my opinion is that rationally this doesn’t seem like the best thing for a man to do with his life.
Thankfully, a man’s drive for sex overrides those fears most of the time and makes us seek out and persue women and marriage (at least Christian men). I would go so far as to say that if men in general knew what the average sex life is like for married men, they would probably choose never to marry. I 100% agree that men and women were designed to be together, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be. I’m saying that I believe God made men the way we are so that we would end up together, and I think the primary factor behind that is our sex drive. Why exactly is that so offensive?
But marriage IS the best thing for a man to do with his life. Not only because that’s what God clearly intends for most men to do, but because study after study shows that married men fare better in life. Even having sex more often than single men. And by the way, women have sexual desire too. It looks different, but it’s also a factor in women being attracted to men. I’m merely saying this isn’t one-sided.
We both agree that a man in a good marriage benefits more than a single man that is alone, but I’d like to shed some light on the studies you are referring to for clarity sake. Those numbers that indicate health benefits, happiness, and everything else only account for men that are married and stay married. Once a man gets divorced, he is no longer counted in those numbers, and statistically he is counted as either a divorce or unmarried depending on the study.
When you account for the fact that a man has around a 30% chance to get divorced his well being plummets. So those numbers are a little bit deceiving. Since we don’t have much data on single men vs men that marry and then divorce to compare the outcomes, it’s kinda hard to have an apples to apples argument. My guess is that a man who chooses not to ever marry ends up better off than a man who marries and divorces, but not as well as a man who marries and stays married. That being said, men and women need each other and I truly believe that God intends for almost everyone to be in a wonderful marriage. A few lucky ones can be like Paul, but I think those are few and far between.
Maybe Brian is right! Maybe guys who get married aren’t any happier than guys who don’t, when you factor in the 1/3 divorce rate.
OR maybe the 2/3 of men who never get divorced and the percentage of men who get divorced and then marry someone else to whom they stay married should inspire us that marriage can be positive and happy.
“OR maybe the 2/3 of men who never get divorced and the percentage of men who get divorced and then marry someone else to whom they stay married should inspire us that marriage can be positive and happy.”
I agree completely with this. I wasn’t saying men shouldn’t get married. What I’m saying is that if you were to look at marriage like a business proposition, most businesses probably wouldn’t take the deal due to risk. Thanks be to God, men don’t usually consider the risk because they want to be with a woman they love, and my assertion is that this is largely due to a man’s sex drive. Now, I might be wrong about the cause of men disregarding risk, but I don’t know if anyone can argue that on the surface marriage appears to be a bad deal for men.
Look at it objectively: One of the biggest reasons men get married (my opinion is it’s the #1 reason) is to have an amazing sex life with a woman he loves. Well if a great sex life was commonplace this blog wouldn’t exist. Next, 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce, and of those 70% or more of the time it’s the wife who initiated. Finally, 80% or more of the time, a divorce ends with the husband seeing his kids 4 days a month. Just those factors alone would make a person run far away if it was a totally rational decision. Most people wouldn’t put your money into a bank that loses all of it a third of the time even if the other two thirds of the time it makes you a lot of money. That’s all I’m saying.
I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I would note that the 70% of divorces initiated by women doesn’t mean they are entirely at fault; men often overestimate their wife’s happiness and peace and are less willing to seek outside help. I think it’s probably more 50/50, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s a good proposition to risk seeing your kids only four day a month. (Again, the children suffer the worst.) What I’d love to see is more focus on choosing someone whom you have more than merely a sexual attraction to (because marriages have seasons and you may not have high-five-that-was-awesome sex for all the years you’re married), as well as putting a high priority on sexual intimacy. And whatever churches and ministries can do to foster that, we should. That alone could lower the 1/3 risk quite a bit.
“What I’d love to see is more focus on choosing someone whom you have more than merely a sexual attraction to (because marriages have seasons and you may not have high-five-that-was-awesome sex for all the years you’re married), as well as putting a high priority on sexual intimacy. And whatever churches and ministries can do to foster that, we should. That alone could lower the 1/3 risk quite a bit.”
Amen to every single word you just wrote J! I believe this with all my heart and I’m thankful for you and others like you trying to do this very thing.
There’s some talk in this comment thread about men “giving up their freedom” when they get married. This is a common accusation in our culture now — that men lose something when they get married, and I don’t think it fits at all in a conversation among followers of Christ. So, I really want to know: What freedom did you give up to get married?
You didn’t give up sexual freedom because you either have sex within marriage, refrain from sex completely, or live your life outside the will of God. Living outside His will is not freedom. It’s sin, which is bondage, the opposite of freedom. So you didn’t give up sexual freedom by getting married. You gained it, whether you get as much of it as you want/expect or not, it’s only within marriage you have any sexual freedom.
You AND your wife gave up the freedom to spend your money completely independently of what anyone else wants. But you also either gained more money to spend because she works or you gained a parent to raise your children, which has monetary value as well.
You probably did lose some freedom over what you do with your recreational time, but unless you live as a hermit who never socializes with other people, you have to give some amount of that up to not be completely lonely all the time. (If you are one of the unfortunate men whose wives make it nearly impossible for them to do the things they enjoy doing, I’m sorry, and that’s a separate issue.)
So, again, what freedom did you give up by getting married that you wouldn’t have given up in any way if you had stayed single? For those of us trying to be a Godly wife, I think it’s offensive and unfair to be told that we as wives are such a burden on our husbands and somehow keep him from being free.
I think that it’s a given that men (and women) give up freedoms in order to bold themselves to someone in marriage. A person could be doing anything at all with thier life if they didn’t marry, and by definition you give up the right to do whatever you want when you aren’t single.
Men and women get married because they believe the benefits of marriage outweigh the benefits of being single. As you stated, a Christian man can’t have a sex life with a woman if he’s single, so in theory marriage provides for that need, and indeed is the reason given by Paul as the reason to get married.
Its my belief that if you took sex off the plate that men wouldn’t make this choice. I happen to believe, and this comment thread is evidence of that, that women would choose marriage even if sex wasn’t a factor at all.
“Its my belief that if you took sex off the plate that men wouldn’t make this choice.” – But you realize that in saying this, you’re saying the worth of a woman as a life companion is her sexuality? And that plenty of men disagree with you?
Well-said, J. I don’t think you left out anything!
Since physical intimacy in my marriage has been absent for a decade (first due to my wife’s dismay with my prior work as a private military contractor, and now made inevitable and permanent by pancreatic cancer) I’ve found it a challenge to affirm her physically without crossing boundaries that would be too intimate, too uncomfortable.
Challenging is not ‘impossible’; she has lately been concerned with a small amount of weight gain (she’s 5′ 6″ and 142 lbs), and it’s been my pleasure to tell her that she looks better than ever, that the small amount of extra weight makes her look healthier.
She has commented that her bosom is sagging, and that this disappoints her. I have to be careful here; first I will say that her breasts look more full and attractively-shaped than ever, but I have to defuse this by saying, “That being said, I’ll get the wheelbarrow ready for you.” It’s a fine line; if, in this area, I just leave her with the affirmation, she’s a bit uncomfortable. If I make it a joke, as I might have done with a fellow operator (not about breasts!), it’s neutral.
I don’t think of her (or anyone!) sexually at this point; pain has blotted out both memory and desire. But I can still be a kind and encouraging husband, and when I die, leave her with a feeling of confidence, and of having been cherished by a man who was perhaps not the best, but who loved her with a whole heart.
I had a friend whose husband would tell her, “I don’t care if your breasts sag, as long as they sag over here with me.”
And all beautifully said, Andrew. You’re in my prayers.
Wait…are you saying it’s not cool to eat at the ping pong table too?!?!
Excellent perspectives, J!
Lol. I’m saying that mothers everywhere would say to their boys, “Do so at your own risk.” 😉
I find it hard to believe any Christian would call his wife a sex object. My wife and 3 grown daughters also take offense at the use of this term. I don’t even like to say object of desire. My wife is not an object but a child of God. As her husband, I am to love her…she is not the object of sexual pleasure.
Bless you! I say this all the time, and then you wonderful husbands come here and prove it: There are truly good, godly men out there.
“Sex Object” emotionally trivializes worth in a woman.
Some have suggested that some men are more physically driven and some women are more emotionally driven. Maybe that is why there is a 50% divorce rate.
I do know that my own spouse likes to feel like my little sex kitten, but that is exclusive only to us and nobody else. (this is why I don’t have a photo attached or use my first name when I respond on this site)
I think truth be told, where mutual attraction exists’, that if a woman referred her husband as a “sex object”, it would be less insulting to him than it would be if he referred that to her to as an object.
Though my wife and I have never referred one another as a sex object, though I just ask her and she agreed that being referred as a sex object degrades a woman, though at the height of arousal caused by foreplay and slow penetration, she smiled and winked that she has imagined me being one.
With human trafficking plaguing the globe or certain countries where a man will take on a hundred wives, using the term sex object on a woman is just wrong.
Thanks, Mark! And an aside: Actually, the 50% divorce rate is incorrect; rather, that was a percentage thrown out years ago as a prediction that never came to pass. Instead, it’s about 1/3 of marriages that end in divorce. Still way too high, but not as dire as some people believe.
My son-in-law mentioned the divorce rate is lower than 50%, he suggested that people aren’t getting married so young, so marriages are less frequent. (yes, 33% is still too high)
Yes, that’s true. BUT the divorce rate has never reached 50%. Never happened. That stat was entirely based on the “if things keep going this way, one out of two marriages will end in divorce.” Go figure!
Objects are not people and people are not objects. This is why the English language has a distinctive word for each. If everyone would use the proper words for things, “that would be great”.
I read this to my husband and he almost had that “visceral” reaction you spoke of….he says, yes, that term is demeaning and should be saved for things like sex vibrators which are truly a sex object—though not something he attaches desire to!
Wow…yeah, to think of your wife as a sex object definitely sounds like a good way to get punched….at least around here. So what happens if you have a wife that becomes a sexual refuser? How does the husband view her then?
I’ve never personally heard someone say that a wife should be their husband’s sex object. That’s a new one on me. I thought we had established in our culture that at least in word, it’s wrong to sexually objectify women…even though we still do it and likely always will because it is so engrained in the culture. We just excuse away the sexual objectification by saying that it empowers the woman to put her in a position to be objectified. So, it’s crazy to me to think anyone would say it is ok.
You ask how a husband views his wife who a sexual refuser… I view her as a child of God who is broken. I love her as God loves me. Easier said than done but that is why I need Him.
Yes, men shouldn’t say women are sex objects. It’s ironically funny though that the very paragraph you say that wording is important you word things incorrectly by writing ‘Except that’s not “sex object” it means — see definitions above.’
I don’t think that’s ironic, Thomas. It’s called a typo, which I have now fixed. Thanks!
I couldn’t have said it better myself, even to the point of addressing the “object of my desire” phraseology. I’ll only add that I’d be among the first to jump in, as a man, and agree that being turned on sexually is a huge motivator for us men in deciding who we want to marry. But here’s a question: isn’t that true of women as well? Just in a different way?
I’ll tell you what turns me on as a man – and I actually shared this with my wife for the first time the other day – is when a woman draws me out. (She did, early on, and still does.) I do think us men tend to be more reserved emotionally, just as women tend to be more reserved with their sexuality (huge emphasis on the word “tend”!!), and to the extent I’m like that I need someone who will ask the right questions, make the right observations, etc. I am rather emotionally open as it is, though.
Being “drawn out”; I had never told her she did that for me, put exactly that way, before. Now *that* turns me on, even potentially in a sexual way. But doesn’t this point to us men needing to be emotionally involved too, and *prior* to becoming attracted sexually? Just as physical touch (the right kind) turns a woman on too? I believe this is what God intended in the beginning: for man to have an intimate companion who is very much like himself, yet intriguingly different. And vice versa, of course.
I know us guys sometimes have trouble articulating what I think some of us really mean by “sex object”, but it’s a term I would never use, or even think. That’s me – but I’m glad I’m not the only one.
Very nice comment, Wayne. Thank you.
So, the thread above with Brian and Thomas had me kind of hyperventilating a bit! I’ve left off commenting overnight, taken some breaths, and prayed that the Lord will help me write a comment that is God honouring, and not filled with the kind of language rolling around in my head!
But, seriously! Guys! You say that men primarily choose their wives based on sexual attraction…but then ALSO say that most men wouldn’t consider marriage ‘worth the risk’, if it wasn’t for that sexual attraction. Well, jeez, MAYBE if men picked their life long mate based on OTHER factors, instead of who makes them horny in their late teens/early twenties (or thereabouts) – (which, let’s face it, could be just about ANYONE, because, y’know, boys n hormones) THEN maybe, they would also lower their risk of later divorce! Just a thought…
So yeah, marriage is a HUGE deal, and should not be entered lightly, and both spouses should be 100% committed to the ’til death do us part’ part of the vows, unless there is a very, very good reason not to stay married. So many people leave marriages that are entirely fixable,and I think that changing the (main) criteria for an eligible spouse from ‘someone I’m sexually attracted to and in love with’ to ‘someone who has a godly character’, would help a lot in reducing the divorce rate. As a general rule, you can condition yourself to find anyone/thing sexually attractive (just look at how porn has warped people’s minds in this regard), but it is pretty impossible to change a serious character flaw in someone, especially when that someone doesn’t want to change!
E, first of all, it was Brian who said those things, not me. Although I agree with some of what Brian says, not the “freedom” or the “worth the risk” parts.
But let’s look at the sexual attraction thing some more. I do think men have evolved so that visual attraction is a bigger deal to them than it is to women. Since men are expected throughout history to be the initiators, evolution/God has set them up to be sexually triggered by what they see, to such an extent that they risk outright, frequent, soul-crushing humiliation to go after what they desire. As a woman, you can’t see this side of the puzzle. You and other women complain that men are too sexually-oriented, and yet it’s actually that part of men that is in large part responsible for why men and women become a pair, for why they come together at all. “It comes with the package” so to speak.
I would also disagree with you when you say “you can condition yourself to find anyone/thing sexually attractive (just look at how porn has warped people’s minds in this regard)”. Do you really think this? Porn can alter people’s tastes, but it doesn’t make people sexually attracted to ugly people. There’s no “ugly people” genre of porn that I know of, at least none of any significant popularity. If someone with a godly character should be the most important criteria, then why wouldn’t I, as a guy, marry a man with a godly character?
So Thomas, I disagree with your some of your views on this. And I am the higher-drive spouse, who might be seen by some as “too sexually-oriented.”
And honestly, I think there’s nowhere else to go with this conversation. So I’m not likely to approve more comments on the “men marry women for sex” thread here. It’s not exactly the point of my post, but I will say that arguments like I’ve heard here confirm to me that some men still consider a woman’s value primarily in terms of their sexuality. Which can be discouraging.
Now of course I believe sex is something to be considered — or else, why this blog? — but the majority of comments here demonstrate that there is mutual attraction and the whole package of the person is what draws us to one another. It’s feminine/masculine, personalities, life goals, companionship, and yes, sex. But the sum of the whole is greater than any part.
I actually agree with you. I think physical attraction is the worst way to pick a wife If we are looking at this objectively. My point is that once a man is “smitten” with a woman, for lack of a better word, he doesn’t think objectively about anything for the most part. I happen to think that arranged marriages are a much better way for marriages to come to be, but that isn’t the world in which we live. Thank you for being respectful in your comment and I’m sorry if what I’m saying upsets you, but I believe it to be true.
Thanks for another respectful comment, Brian. I was less upset, as such, than annoyed at the way the other thread was progressing. My final comment on this matter (if J lets it through!) is this:
Yes, sexual attraction (and being really ‘visual’) is something that God has given us. BUT that doesn’t mean that we flesh minded, sinful creatures are using it correctly! Just because it is ‘God given’ doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to exercise control and wisdom in the use of those gifts.
God gave us delicious food, and an appetite too, but that doesn’t mean that we need to eat ALL the barbecued ribs, or cheesecake, or Easter eggs, no matter how much we feel like doing that! No, we are expected by God to use those gifts given to us with wisdom and control and not abuse them with our fleshly desires. I think that sexuality should be treated the same, and I get a little fed up with men saying ‘God made us like this so that’s just how it is’, when we are all seriously flawed, and should all be working towards changing our flesh nature to becoming more Christlike. Now, please don’t hear me say that sexual desire is wrong, it is most definitely not! But I would urge any man (or woman) who has used the excuse ‘it’s the way God made me’ (in any context) to think long and hard about whether that is truly how God wants you to STAY.
Personally, I’m glad arranged marriages – you know, the kind that showcase the “amazing power of the male sex drive”? – are no longer in vogue, as I know that “amazing male sex drive” felt an awful lot like rape to many un -wooed, un-won, scared virgins on the wedding night, and likely left many scars (in case you didn’t know, sudden sex without arousal is incredibly painful for women – and the vast, vast majority of women need a bit of wooing and relationship to feel arousal). If that seems amazing to you, and worthy of admiration, than so be it, but seeing as the Bible commands a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church and “gave Himself for it”, I feel confident that this scenario of triumphant male sex drive without the underlying relationship is completely at odds with God’s desire and design.
I’m glad my husband did and still does take the “trouble” to see me as a whole person, to pursue me in all avenues of my being, to seek a friendship with me apart from sex, and has valued me when the limitations of my own body made sex off limits from time to time.
You emphasize the risks a man takes in getting married. I guess you know that men do most of the abusing and cheating in those marriage statistics, right? Although women tend to file for divorce more, which of course proves that they were the ones at fault in causing the marriage to fail (yes, that was sarcasm. Sorry, but every failed marriage I’ve ever seen was the fault of BOTH parties!). Seems like risking abuse or a cheating spouse is a pretty big deal, right? At least as big a deal as divorce!
You also state how men have to sacrifice their freedom for marriage. I suppose you have considered that women sacrifice exactly the same things men do? That their time, choices, finances, futures , friendships and sexuality all become subject to the highest power of the marriage? Or do you really believe that only men sacrifice their freedom to become a part of a better, stronger whole than they could be themselves? (A little aside to say, if you are not ok with sacrificing your freedom, you should not be getting married! Go be an independent, selfish single person somewhere and spare your would-be spouse!)
If you are ok with seeing women as “very close” to a sex object (as you stated in your first couple remarks), I hope you are equally ok with being seen as basically a pay check. Because, if men and women start viewing marriage in the light you present it, your money is the only reason on earth a woman would degrade herself and agree to marriage. In which case, you now have a world of prostitution and abuse, a constant gender war and very lonely, broken people. How much better it would be to foster a healthier view of sexuality – male and female! – one which accepts sex drive as a beautiful step in the dance of life, and not the whole jig itself. Then, when bodies fail, and sex is not possible, there is still the strong chord of friendship and love to keep the song going.
@ Rachel—excellent question! What did our husbands give up? Perhaps a portion of the “freedom” they give up is in having the freedom to make decisions alone, without input, as we wives usually have input to give. Whether or not our input is considered is also another issue. We usually have opinions on what they wear, what is watched on tv, etc. Opinions do not count as control (or shouldn’t). So is the feeedom to be in relative silence while a “free” man lives his life alone? I doubt many men would prefer that.
Brian, What sucks about what you’re saying is that it turns a woman’s value into her physical attractiveness. The one thing that’s completely out of our control, becomes “the” factor in how we fare in life. And if he thinks I’m hot, well guess what… there’re thousands of other women out there who are hotter. I’d like to see men agree with God that “beauty is deceitful and charm is vain, but the woman who FEARS THE LORD should be praised.” I’ve often told my husband how thankful I am that we actually *chose* each other. (We’re familiar with a group of conservative Christians who actually do arranged marriages) when the going gets tough, We can always look back and say, “ok, I was the one who CHOSE this person, now man up, and accept them for who they are.” I’m curious also, Brian, are you married? What does your wife think about your views on this?
Without reading any other replies I just want to ask what kind of man would EVER say that sex object is correct or good to call a woman. These men are not thinking with their mind of Christ, nor their own intelligent head. I gather these men are thinking with their pecker head. Actually being one.
Sorry guys, I am a man, but I will burn my man card if that’s what it means to be one. It only takes a second to understand that this kind of male (false) superiority is part at fault for the popular feminist & man bashing we have going on today. Not to mention the sexual harassment headlines we are reaping. We are the reason there is a backlash.
This is not how we ourselves would want to be treated. Seriously? There is not a man out their who desires to be NOTHING more than a sex object. Let’s just be a little gross here. Men, raise your hand if you want to be seen as a condom. How about a used one, at that? How about a diaper? These are objects. No, if there is one thing men do it is demand to be respected. Yet, another thing we do wrong. I’m not the best at who I am, so I get it. But, legitimizeing this label as God ordained is nothing but wrong. If God meant women to be an object He would not have made them from our rib. She would not be bone of my bone & flesh of my flesh.
God bless you.
Thanks for that, I’d not really known what the definition of a sex object is until now.
It works both ways. For years I felt my wife regarded me as merely her butler-object. I only existed to make her life secure and comfortable, no interest in the man behind the face.
Yes, I have sadly also seen a few women treat their husbands like ATMs. Any objectification is outside of how God wants us to treat our brothers and sisters.
I think husbands are indeed called to provide for and protect our wives. If that role has a name it wouldn’t offend me. It’s if I’m ONLY valued for being that role that would cause me to be offended. After all, what value to a woman is a man who cannot or will not do those things? I think this is why women tend to be attracted to men with money and power. A power man or a man with money can provide for her and protect her. I don’t see anything wrong with this.
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