My husband and I were hanging out in the living room, he watching sports on TV as I scanned my iPhone Instagram App. Wading through pictures of friend’s children and the latest meme, I was jolted by the next photo that flashed on my screen. A former student from our ministry days was posed in her bathing suit bottoms, showing off her hard earned assets… I think you get the picture.
I stammered over my thoughts as I turned to my husband, Ron, and said, “It is really disheartening when I see former students who profess faith in Christ showing off their bodies and bad decisions on social media.” Without showing him the picture, I described the image. Without responding, Ron continued to fiddle with his iPad and watch the game. No reply from him led me to assume he has heard my modesty rant mortification spiel one too many times. However, imagine my surprise when Ron’s Facebook status popped up on my feed, seconds later.
“I am going to go out on a limb here and ask you girls who are working out like fiends and look great to protect us guys who are trying to be faithful to our spouses. Please save those photos for your husband either now or one day. #thinkbeforeyoupost Thanks!”
I turn quickly to look at him. My husband holds deep convictions and principles, but this post was completely out of character for him. Apparently he had experienced enough. He was ready to speak up for the men who profess Christ.
He, like many of his friends, is trying pursue purity yet is met at every turn with provocative images of sisters in Christ Jesus (let alone the world) in skimpy attire or sultry-eyed selfies. These guys want to live a pure life, but don’t hate the sin of lust enough not to reward soft pornographic pictures a lingering glance and a “like.”
Let me be clear, this is an issue for both sexes. We all struggle with lust and revel in attention toward our flesh. We are made to worship and sin has shifted the focus of our desires to self, self, and more self.
I would like to adopt James’ words for our current dilemma, “My brothers and sisters this should not be” (James 3:10, NIV). Though James was writing concerning cursing and blessing from the same mouth, the sentiments apply here as well.
Within seconds of Ron’s post the likes and comments began to fly like flags on July Fourth. Here are a few of the comments he received:
We’re all hungry for attention. This goes for single as well as married women.
But maybe we’re so attention hungry because we are asking the wrong people. We’re comparing ourselves with the wrong images and focused on the wrong aspects of beauty.
We are asking the world, “Do you think I’m beautiful? Hit ‘Like’ or leave a comment.”
While taking care of the body God has given us is good, and wanting to be desirable for our spouses or future mate is sound, outward beauty does not last:
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
When is the last time we asked God, “Do you think I’m beautiful, desirable, worthy of attention?”
I can’t remember.
His Word tells me that His answer is always, “Yes,” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20) and from the foundation of time God has made His affections known.
Am I worthy of another dying in my place? Christ said, “Yes.” (John 3:16-17)
Am I worthy of attention? God assured us, “Yes.” (Psalm 139:17-18)
In total transparency, I ask my husband all the time if he is happy with my body. (Yes, I just wrote that in a public place…but it’s true.) Even though he tells me I look beautiful, almost daily, I doubt my outward appearance because I focus on what others esteem as beautiful or my self-perceived physical “flaws.” Conversely, God looks at my heart. If I could see me as God sees me, my reflection would be oh so different (both worse and better).
Women and men, the image in our mirror or captured in megapixels is merely a reflection. It is not a score card, an indication of our eternal worth, or of the condition of our heart. Read that again. Seek out God’s word to determine the validity of that statement.
Taking the focus of God’s attention into consideration, as well as His commandments not to look at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:28), we have some decisions to make concerning our obedience to God’s commandment in Hebrews 10:24:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
Before we post a picture with torso and excess leg exposed, take a selfie with seductive eyes, or show off skintight apparel in stilettos, let us ask, “Does this edify my brothers and sisters in Christ? Does this promote a message of the gospel? Is this a cry for self-worship or attention?”
Yes, there are going to be times when you want to share a picture at the beach, pool, or a fancy night out. We don’t live in burkas. However, we are not home yet. As much as we can reflect a heavenly-home focus in our interactions with others, we should strive to do so.
Let us edify and build up the Body of Christ. Help us not to tear it down by causing our brothers to stumble into a pit of lustful desires they cannot, nor should not satisfy.
Let’s pursue holiness together, one picture at a time.
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.