American culture has become a mixing bowl for two ingredients that are devastating when combined together. And the church—especially my generation—has not escaped the devastation.
Most men have turned women into objects of lust who only serve to satisfy sinful desires. And most women have bought the lie, doing their best to become the most outwardly appealing lust-object that they can be. This combination—male lust and female seduction—is deadly. It is a downward spiral.
Here’s how the downward spiral works: When men focus their desires disproportionately on women’s figures or personalities or “sex appeal,” women naturally respond by laboring to become that type of woman. Men respond by raising the bar—thinner, younger, bolder, prettier, “sexier.” Girls respond (again) by turning their figure into a god, exercising like slaves, and wearing things tighter, higher, lower—whatever it takes. Down, down, down goes the enslaving spiral. Pretty soon, both guys and girls believe that the only beautiful girl is a supermodel—which is absolutely ridiculous.
Holistic feminine beauty as God designed it goes out the window, trailed by lots of other biblical standards and values. Biblical truth is one long strand—you can’t lose one part of it without losing a whole lot more.
By the way that many professing Christian men talk about and look at women, their priorities are clear (I know this from being a guy, living in Southern California, and living and ministering in Christian male dorms for six years). Beauty is based on (and guys are attracted to) the body first and the personality second, with most other forms of beauty coming in far behind if at all (e.g., godliness, appropriate femininity, work ethic, potential for being a good mother—you know, dull Proverbs 31 stuff). Women instinctively pick up on this, and most react accordingly. It would be hard not to. Some symptoms of this image-lust among women are relational anxiety, eating disorders, intense self-focus, rampant and naïve immodesty, endless and consuming mirror-gazing, servile materialism, and flat-out seduction. Some male expressions of lust are rampant pornography, masturbation, unbalanced focus on “girls that are hot,” delayed marriage, divorce, and adultery. This is a big deal.
Girls know what type of girl the boys are attracted to, and they adjust themselves to be that kind of girl. And as they adjust, guys just “raise” their standards. But “raising” standards is actually the exact opposite of what is really happening. The standard of what a woman ought to be and what a man ought to be attracted to is lowered. But no one notices. Single guys (and, God forbid, some married men) sit around and talk about which girls are “hot” while ignoring all others, and girls spend too much time and energy and thought and money on becoming “hot” while neglecting “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4). These things ought not to be this way.
Brothers and sisters, the devastation left by this downward spiral is inestimable. And the devastation has to do with people—with souls. I beg you not to allow billboards and movies and commercials and magazines and mannequins to define beauty. Resolve to deny yourself and to play your part in reversing this ugly trend. Let the Bible define what is lovely, and let God guide your attractions. This is the only right and safe way to live and love and desire.