Objectification = Degradation

The overriding characteristics of the people of God are holiness, righteousness, and love; and, not surprisingly, these are the very character traits of God Himself. God has commanded His people, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15, 16); He sent His only Son to die for us “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21); and John reminds us, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). These characteristics are not just goals to achieve or boxes to tick so we can say we have done our duty; these characteristics are intended to make us the people we are supposed to be so we can interact with our fellow man and with God in a particular way.

      In its basic meaning, holiness means both ethical and moral purity, and a separation from the world [because of the desire to be ethically and morally pure]. It was with this meaning in mind that God commanded His people, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:17, 18). The separation does not mean we all go off and live in a monastery or a deserted island to get away from the people of the world, but that we are to not join with them in their worldly pursuits and indulgences because we are pursuing something better. We simply will not and cannot be holy people if we walk hand-in-hand with the world. (See 2 Cor. 6:14-16 as Paul illustrated this fact.)

      And, of course, love is an important characteristic of the people of God, and the factor that lays the foundation for fulfilling all His commands. As Jesus noted, love of God and love of our fellow man are the two nails upon which hang “all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40), and Paul also noted, “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). Everything we do must be done out of love, else it is a useless effort, according to God’s word (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3); it’s that important. Jesus added to this when He gave a “new commandment” that His disciples were to “love one another…as I have loved you” (John 13:34, 35); He upped the standard for the love that we are to have for our fellow man, which means we have to try all the more to love our fellow man. This is not an option!

      And how can anyone love God who does not know God? How can you love another man if you do not know him? You see, necessarily implied in the commands to love the Lord “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) is the requirement that we get to know God and get to know our fellow man. And, as we probably already know, the better we know God and the better we get to know our fellow man, the more reasons we can find for demonstrating that love as we should.

      [I am aware many people are very hard to love, but if God can love us and if Jesus can love us, it is certainly possible. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Remember, we are to love even our enemies (Matt. 5:44). No excuses.]

      With these characteristics necessary to the life of every disciple of Jesus Christ, we must recognize our spiritual adversary is going to do everything possible to prevent us or to hinder us from being the people God wants us to be. It is the devil who is responsible for all the unholiness, unrighteousness, and hatred in the world, and Christians are not immune to his devices. One of the most successful devices he uses among men to prevent or hinder them from being holy, righteous, and loving, is the matter of objectification.

      By definition, to objectify someone or something means to “degrade to the status of a mere object.” Let me absolutely clear and blunt on this: Objectification = degradation. And in regard to the requirements of God that we be holy and righteous, and that we love Him and our fellow man, this is a major cause for men failing to do just that.

      Objectifying Our Fellow Man. When we look at a person as merely an object, we have degraded them. When we see another person as not a person, but as an object of our desire [lust] or an object to be used for our pleasure, our service, or our happiness, we have degraded them. They are no longer, in our eyes, a soul worth saving or a person to be loved, but a mere object to be used as long as they are pleasing to us, and discarded when they do not.

      And, again, our spiritual adversary will use objectification to get us to see our fellow man [or woman] as something to be used, rather than loved, and by various methods. As a real-world example, consider how the fashion industry, advertising, and pornography have all objectified women: The fashion industry chews up and spits out young woman after young woman to put on their outfits and then walk a runway or pose for a picture so consumers will buy their products. The women are, to them, an object to model their clothing. The advertising industry, as a whole is no better in this.

      And then there is pornography. I don’t have to tell anyone the devastating effects it has had on our society, and much of it because its users objectify women as merely a means of producing a moment of sexual pleasure. Sexual crimes against women are not going away anytime soon, and studies show that about 1 in 6 women have been the victim of some sexual attack at some point in their lives, usually when under 30. Why does this happen so frequently and why is it so widespread? It is because ruler of this world has appealed to the lusts of men and has given them the means to objectify their victims so they can rationalize their ungodly actions.

      Objectifying God. This may sound strange, but it is just as widespread as the objectification of our fellow man. Some, who have no desire to believe God is real, have turned Him into a mere object of man’s imagination. Others, who seek some sort of deity, turn their god into a literal object, and form and fashion idols to represent their god. This, too, is not a new thing, for Paul wrote of those who long ago rejected the evidence of God’s existence and His very nature and “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:18-23). Idols.

      It should not be surprising to know that those who did so essentially created for themselves a god who would permit them to do whatever they wanted, and they strayed only further and further from God and any form of holiness or righteousness and, instead, sought after and practiced “those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:24-29).

      And let’s not think this is a thing of the past; men still objectify God or make their god into a literal, material object, and the reason is still the same: With a ‘god’ like that, you have to answer only to self, and you can do whatever you want. Any demonstration of ‘worship’ is merely an outward show that is empty, at the heart.

      Whether it is man or God, it is still true that objectification = degradation. We degrade our fellow man to the status of an object, and we have no compulsion to love them. We degrade God to a mere object, and we feel no compulsion to obey Him, or to love Him (cf. John 14:15).

            To combat and prevent this, get to know God; get to know your fellow man. Only then can you love them.          Steven Harper