Since I’m a bit behind on other projects, I have planned to return to this "Act Like Men" series in December. However, a recent article in Vanity Fair caught my attention and brought me back to the series.
Earlier this week, Vanity Fair published the first public interview with actress Jennifer Lawrence since the leak and circulation of a number of nude photos of her and other celebrities.
Obviously, there are a number of disturbing parts to this ordeal—that hackers can get our pictures, that people violated Lawrence’s (and others’) privacy, and that there is such an appetite for this sort of thing. And make no mistake, what happened to Jennifer Lawrence is wrong and evil. It is illegal, and we should be disturbed and angered that she or any other woman is ever violated and exploited.
Yet, in addition, one of the most deflating parts about Lawrence’s interview with Vanity Fair was her explanation about why she was taking and sending nude photos in the first place:
“Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he is going to look at you.”
That sentence hit me like a boulder to the gut. It’s weighty. It hurts.
Jennifer Lawrence was exploited by hackers who stole, posted, and distributed nude photos of her, but she, and so many other women, are exploited by a society that is convinced and comfortable that men should treat women as sexual commodities, online or in a relationship.
And that’s another reason that men need to act like men.
In this installment of our Act Like Men series, we’re going to take a look at how men—acting like men—relate to women. Simply put, men acting like men don’t fit Lawrence’s description.
Men—and from this point forward I refer to men as those acting like men, and the rest as childish boys—don't resort to pornography when they are unsatisfied and don’t turn their girlfriends or wives into porn objects.
Childish boys do that.
Boys seek their own fulfillment, no matter the cost to the objectified woman. To a boy, a nude picture of his girlfriend is no different than the porn he regularly scans online. Boys see women’s bodies as currency to be acquired and traded. To a boy, a woman is no different than a baseball card that ends up in his wheel spokes, damaged and discarded.
And, the males searching and sharing such pictures are just boys.
Here are a few ways real men think about and treat women:
1. Men don’t buy into the notion that women are objects.
We live in a world in which women have been devalued to the point that they must wield their bodies as objects, making themselves vulnerable, for the sake of acquiring power or influence. Yes, it’s Jennifer Lawrence to her boyfriend. But, it’s also Miley Cyrus to the whole world.
There is a market for this because too many boys think they are men. Too many boys treat women as if they are objects—which shows they are really just selfish boys.
Men don’t treat women like objects. A woman’s body does not define her worth. Men value women for far more than simply their bodies.
In 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul encouraged his protégé to relate to the believers in local churches in a familial way. The wording is specific for the church, of course, but it applies to how we view others. Paul says, treat “older women as mothers, and with all propriety, the younger women as sisters” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). With this instruction, Paul is helping Timothy to understand that he should treat others (including women) with love and respect. That's true everywhere.
Men know that women are people created in the image of God, not an object to be ogled.
2. Men have enough self-control to wait.
Jennifer Lawrence’s evaluation of the male ability to exhibit sexual restratint is all too common in today’s society. Boys—unlike men—are impatient. Boys value selfish pleasure more than sacrificial love. Boys impatiently settle for less than reality (pornography) in hopes of re-creating it with a real woman one day.
In contrast, men are patient. Men control themselves. Men know the difference between real relationships and the perceived pleasure of porn. Again, the Apostle Paul tells us according to God looks like, “that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). (And of course, this applies to women and men, though I am making specific application to men.)
Real men are playing the long game and not the short game. They know that greater satisfaction will come in the context of a committed marriage relationship. A man—acting like a man—desires to be with the type of woman who respects herself enough to demand she be treated as a human being and not an object.
3. Men respect, rather than exploit, women.
Just about anyone, Christian or not, would agree that one of the most problematic societal issues throughout the world today is the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women. It most certainly goes on here in the United States, but thankfully we have laws in place to help prevent it. The laws don’t always work perfectly, but our society agrees that such trafficking is wrong.
However the “men” who regularly download and trade nude photos of celebrities (including Jennifer Lawrence) do not understand what it truly means to be a man. They are pro-exploitation whether they realize it or not. Exploiting a woman’s image is still exploitation—even if she sends it to you to keep you from looking at (other) porn.
Men acting like men do not exploit women. Men respect women.
Men, acting like men, know that women are made in the image of God and deserving of dignity and respect—they are image bearers. This is how God desires our world to operate; as the Bible relates at the very beginning in the book of Genesis, “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male andfemale” (Genesis 1:27).
Women are not Images, but Image Bearers.
Women are image bearers, not just images to amuse the sexual appetite of boys. Actually, godly boys know that as well, so the contrast here is between the immaturity of childish men acting like selfish boys, rather than godly men. The issue is childish selfishness, not age.
Yet, we live in a world that is not shocked at a statement that, “Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he is going to look at you.”
That's a boy's world.
The fact that so many miss this reminds us why men need to be reminded to “act like men” (1 Corinthians 16:3).
Chris Martin contributed to this blog post.