Men like to look at pretty ladies. Groundbreaking discovery, I know…
For a Christian guy – i.e., a man who follows Christ wholeheartedly and seeks to live with integrity as a result – this desire presents problems. When a pretty lady passes us on the sidewalk, something inside drives us to look – once, twice, even thrice, or more.
This looking “twice, thrice, or more” is cause for concern. It seems harmless (you’re not touching or having an affair, right?), but what’s at the heart of it? Before you label me prudish or legalistic, read on.
My SoCal Culture Shock
We live in sunny Southern California where covering up is culturally optional. If there’s one place in the country where people are more “appearance aware”, it’s Southern California. Though we live in SoCal, Selena and I are’t from here. We’re from Washington (the Seattle side) where it rains most of the time. Washingtonians are responsible for trends like flannel shirts and sandals worn with wool socks. People wear much more when it’s raining and 42 degrees outside.
When we moved south I was shocked by the amount of skin you see on a day-to-day basis. The other day we took a trip to the beach and I’m pretty positive one girl wasn’t wearing anything below the waste…at least it looked that way? I can’t know for sure but the fact that I’m even asking the question illustrates the point: people wear less and I’m still not used to it.
Overwhelmed by our new home’s culture, I felt my integrity being gradually deteriorated by looking. Why was I looking? What’s the point? What’s going on in my heart and mind? How does it affect my wife?
Here’s the typical “look” progression: 1) Notice. 2) Look again. 3) LOOOOK again…
For me, and I assume for other men, this type of looking is rooted something gross: sin. Call it lust, pride, ungratefulness, or otherwise – when you look and re-look at the body of an unknown woman for your own pleasure, it’s selfish, it’s sin, and it’s gross. If you disagree, imagine a man you respect staring down a woman’s body as she walks by him on the street. Do you feel a twinge of lost respect for him?
Given this conviction, I decided to make a personal change (by the grace of God). I realized I can’t change an entire culture’s behavior, I can only change my own. Bear in mind, if you’re a guy, this can apply to you no matter where you live…
Watching Where You Look
I can only control myself. It’s unproductive to say “those girls shouldn’t wear that!” or “they’re causing me to stumble!”. Men who say that are uniquely annoying and immature.
I don’t know these women, nor do I know their history, morals, life situation, or any other context for why they’re at that place at that time wearing whatever they’re wearing. They’re strangers to me. I can’t change them, and blaming them gets me nowhere.
Men, we must watch where we look. Where we look and keep looking, says a great deal about our view of women and personal integrity. Where you look affects your mind, and what affects your mind inevitably affects your heart. You may think it’s technically harmless to “look, don’t touch”, but is it? Consider this:
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
While the author of the above passage is speaking metaphorically (he’s not telling you to literally always look forward), in this case it has literal application. I call it “bouncing” your eyes.
Bounce Your Eyes
The concept is simple: anytime you see something that makes you want to re-look or stare (begin the lust reaction), just bounce your eyes away. Look away, flip the page, close your browser window, throw your laptop against the brick wall, or do whatever you have to do – just control your eyes.
Make a concerted effort to control what you’re looking at and why, then contextualize your behavior by including your wife in your thoughts.
Start by thinking about your wife and how much you love her. I like to imagine Selena watching me from across the street – would she be proud of me if she were watching? If I can answer “yes” then I know I’m headed in the right direction.
Bottom line: gawking and/or re-looking is not harmless. It’s never been alright to gawk, and it never builds up – it tears down. It tears you down, it tears your wife down, and it is the start of objectifying women.
6 Reasons to Watch Where You Look
If you’re still not sold on the concept, or if you think I’m just being hyper-sensitive, consider these reasons why you should watch where you look:
1) Honor God
Are you lusting by looking? I can’t say definitively: that’s a heart issue between you and God. I can say that the eyes are a gateway to lust of all forms, so protecting them avidly will help you steer clear of any possibility of lust. Also, it’s not just about you. That woman is a daughter of God.
I have a daughter, and as I pray for her future husband my greatest prayer is that whoever this boy is, he loves God more than her, and he loves my daughter with genuine purity. I can’t imagine God wants anything different for His daughters.
2) Honor your wife
I can’t imagine a wife feeling honored or edified as their husband stares at another woman. By contrast, if you keep your long looks and re-looks limited to your wife; she’ll likely feel loved! (Still, husbands, don’t be creepy about it… act to edify your wife.)
3) Protect your heart
If you’re looking lustfully, your heart is in immense danger. Protect where you look — protect your heart — protect your life.
4) Model integrity, intrinsic value of women for your kids
As stated in #2 above, I have a daughter. I would feel incredibly ashamed if she saw me looking and re-looking at a woman’s body. What am I teaching her if I do that? If she flaunts her body she’ll get attention? I’d rather she didn’t learn that.
If you have a son, he’ll mimic your behaviors toward women; and if you do what every other guy does by staring at pretty girls unashamedly, he’ll naturally follow.
5) Honor women
Women are intrinsically valuable. Unfiltered looking places asymmetrical value on their outward appearance and does little to edify their mind, personality, intelligence, and soul. Purposefully not staring at their bodies, on the other hand, may have the opposite effect (i.e. it will edify them through and through).
Aside from that, they know when you’re looking, and most of them despise it. I often go on walks with our daughter strapped to my chest in this baby-chest-pack-thing. People stare, and I’m not sure why – I look awesome and Dela looks awesome… maybe they think she’s cute, yeah… probably that.
Watching someone walk with a cute baby is wholesome and I still don’t like it… I find myself taking different, less populated, walking routes. I can’t imagine how women feel when countless men look at them wherever they go (yes, ladies, you can help this somewhat by thinking through your outfit… I’ll leave the particulars to you).
6) No one likes a creeper
Ever seen a guy stare a girl down as she walks passed him, only to turn and stare at her again as she walks away? Ever seen a guy in a public setting unabashedly looking at every woman’s “assets” as she goes about her day?
You’ve probably seen a guy like that, or even caught yourself doing that…
Don’t be that guy.
Be THIS guy
Let’s be men that are so infatuated with our wives that every other woman can’t compare. Let’s be men who give our undivided attention, heart, and purity of eyes to our wives because they’re the ultimate standard of beauty for us.
Let’s be men who look at who God is and desire to honor Him with every action and glance. Most of all, let’s be men who love and see others the way God loves and sees them.
Men, how have you learned to guard your eyes?
Wives, any tips for husbands?
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