Objectification

objectification

Recently a few friends and I discussed the concept of objectification. Objectification is treating a person … as an object or thing.

Objectification dehumanizes a person, for whatever reason. If a man struggles with sexual addiction, he will tend to objectify women. For example, pornographic images depict the woman as two-dimensional, as a beautiful face and body meant only as an object of a man’s sexual desire, and not a real human with multiple dimensions: her own strengths, weaknesses, imperfections, and struggles.

There are many other examples of objectification throughout our history. A dictator or preeminently ambitious person will use other people to obtain their political power or financial wealth. They will do whatever it takes to step on others to achieve their goals of grabbing power and position. An extreme example in American history are the landowners of the pre-Civil War South who owned chattel slaves. Many treated their slaves as property or a personal possession and not as equally created humans. For a time in our history, this objectification was protected under the law of the land.

I have been studying the events that lead up to World War I in Europe. One thing that stands out is how brazenly arrogant British “society” was at the time. Most Britons thought that they were a superior society or race and as such they were uniquely qualified to rule the less civilized people of the world (also referred to as “savages”) through colonization. Such arrogance was a major contributor to the “Great War”. It was easy to objectify other nationalities or cultures or classes of people. As the war proceeded, many British writings of the time referred to the Germans as “barbarians”. One nationality of people objectifying another for their own selfish purposes. Adam Hochschild has written an excellent account of World War I title, To end all wars, that highlights both the social and political upheavals that contributed to that immense conflagration.

My point is that individuals, groups, and even whole nations can objectify other people. To do so is wrong. To classify and show prejudice to anyone because of national origin, gender, physical ability (or disability), skin color, or intelligence are all a form of objectification.

However, those who follow Christ must be different. We must realize that God created each person uniquely in His own image. Let me rephrase this point: Each human carries the image of God. Because of this, we are all conceived and born with inherent worth and value. We each have the capacity to receive God’s Holy Spirit within our soul. We all were designed that way. Thus, when we objectify or mistreat any person, we are rebelling against and mistreating something that God considers His “masterpiece”.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.       Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

As a follower of Christ (or to place a label, as “Christians”) our only classification or objectification of other people should be whether they believe in Christ or not. It doesn’t matter if they are black, white, red, African, Asian, Arabian, young, old, male or female. What matters is if they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that there is no distinction of humans, other that the identify one has in Christ:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female for you are all on in Christ Jesus.     Galatians 3:28

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction.                      Romans 3:22

As Christians, we should not objectify any other person. Each person is a unique representation of God here on earth. Through his example, Christ has shown us how to show compassion and care for people of all walks of life, even those who we might consider different, or our “enemy”, or who may disagree with our point of view.

We all need Christ. It is the only distinction that matters for eternity.

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About John Forrest

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