Objectification

I am a parent of teens and I have worked with teens for the better part of two and a half decades.  It should come as no surprise that porn has come up regularly in conversations.  As a youth pastor, I used to give an annual sex talk. As a pastor I have been part of many conversations where porn has been the primary discussion topic and lately internet porn has been a hot topic among youth workers and pastors. Every discussion about porn seems the end with some form of condemnation.  I do not have a problem with the conclusion, but very few people dig deeper.  Why is porn bad?  Is it the naked people?  If so what do we do with Michelangelo the Renaissance artist and painter of the Sistine Chapel ceiling?  It seems a little extreme to label him a pornographer.

With 25 years of porn discussions, conversations and presentations under my belt I am coming to the conclusion that the problem with porn is not its “nakedness;” no, the problem with porn it that it objectifies the other.  Objectification is the process of turning a person into something less than human.  And that my friends is sin.

By making the problem with porn objectification, a whole new can of worms opens up.  Yes, porn is wrong and sinful when it objectifies the other (mostly women), but other acts also become wrong when we objectify.

In war the opponent becomes an insurgent, a term intended to de-humanize.  When talking about our southern border we use words like illegal or undocumented, both subtle attempts at de-humanizing.

Historically Africans brought to this country for the purposes of forced labor where saddled with all kinds of labels, all of which were intended to objectify and de-humanize.

I can’t help but wonder if talking exclusively about porn minimizes the real sin – objectification.