Some may consider this to be a form of compromise, of acceptance of sin. After much prayer, reflection, meditation, and study, I can honestly say I don’t believe it is. For me, at least. Your mileage may vary.
First, know that I’m a big proponent of the technique taught in Every Man’s Battle wherein a man “bounces” his eyes away from sensual imagery, be it an erotic video, a busty billboard, or something as pedestrian as a shapely, well, pedestrian.
The concept behind this practice is deceptively simple. Since my early teens, I have — like most men — reinforced a habit of bouncing my eyes toward such imagery, and this now operates on pure instinct.
There’s no instinct, however, that demands that my eyes dwell and my mind memorize. There’s no instinct to draw sexual gratification from that imagery. That is a choice, albeit a difficult one to handle properly without the right equipment.
So, as recommended by Every Man’s Battle, I have been choosing to supplement the first habit of bouncing my eyes toward imagery with a second habit of immediately bouncing my eyes away from that imagery. This habit took weeks to establish, but once settled, this habit empowered me to have victory in an area that had tormented me all of my adult life. Along with everything else I learned in Every Man’s Battle, this surprisingly effective technique equipped me to win.
However, I’ve found it’s not foolproof.
For one, I can’t always look away, unfortunately. Sometimes it’s a client or coworker, or even artwork at my job, that provides this imagery. Part of my responsibility as an employee is to look at this imagery (albeit not ogle it). Yet my responsibility as a man of God and as a husband demands I handle this imagery with integrity.
My responsibility as an employee is to look at this imagery. Yet my responsibility as a man of God and as a husband demands I handle this imagery with integrity.
And what about the media? Every Man’s Battle recommends that we abandon most forms, in fact any form, of media that stimulates these senses. It’s a no-brainer to forfeit wantonly pornographic imagery, but it’s still plausible to draw gratification from much lesser imagery (like a tight sweater) if I can’t handle it in healthier ways. And this does nothing for unanticipated encounters. Avoidance is about prevention (so that bouncing the eyes isn’t necessary), but I don’t believe this aggressive and absolute policy is the only answer, though it’s often a wise one. To me, it’s a tool to be used when in doubt, but only as a preventative measure.
I’ve stumbled across an enormously effective alternative that acts as a catch-all for the above imperfections and more. I call it Objectify and Wife-ify.
I suspect my female readers, assuming they got this far after realizing this post addressed us perverted men’s eyeballs, winced when they saw “objectify” but I promise it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. In fact, you might very well approve.
When a client comes in the office with a low neckline, when an actress on screen has a steamy scene, or when a woman in a music video grinds erotically, I must do something with that imagery. So, I objectify it.
I mentally separate the image from the woman, making it a distinct concept that is independent of the person that’s really there, leaving me to deal with the meeting, movie, or the music and the woman in each without including the imagery. In essence, I don’t objectify the woman; I objectify the imagery she’s presenting. I make it its own thing.
This may sound like useless cerebral acrobatics and semantics, and on its own, it certainly is. Unchallenged, no amount of mental separation of image and woman will survive very long while the woman continues to portray the image. I must capture this imagery in a new, more engaging context in order to keep them separate. My psyche must prefer the new context to the one provided in the woman in order for the cerebral acrobatics to stick the landing.
Thankfully, God has provided me with the perfect context. It’s supremely appealing and easy to maintain, so it’s easily preferable for my psyche. And best of all, it’s sinless.
And so, I have my second step. Once I’ve objectified the image, separating that cleavage or sensuality or gyration from the woman displaying it, I wife-ify the image.
I connect the image to my wife, visualizing her in that low-cut bodice, imagining her in that steamy scene (with me, of course), picture her dancing like that. Then, my sensual fantasies, even more desirable for the presence of my one and only, embed themselves firmly and safely.
Consider the implications. Now, not only can I deal with such specific situations as I’ve named, but also I have a backup method that can even handle the rare slips of my flesh wherein I fail to properly bounce my eyes. I catch myself lingering, and then I redeem the thought, turning an opportunity to sin into a moment of silent intimacy with my wife.
An Example Situation
Imagine my wife and I are sitting on the couch after the kids have gone to bed, watching the latest big hit out of Hollywood. Unexpectedly, a scene plays out involving something deliberately risqué. Suppose a woman unbuttons her man’s shirt, planting kisses down his chest, followed moments later by him returning the favor. Then, cue the blowing curtains and a fade to black.
Before, this would have been slightly awkward for me and highly painful for her. I’m trying to avoid such imagery without untangling myself from my wifely cuddle, fearing making her think I’m uncomfortable and then misinterpreting the signals. Meanwhile, she’s going there anyway, her insecurities fueled and primed for hyperdrive. Is he lusting after her? Does he wish she was kissing him? Does he think she’s prettier than me? Does he put her face on me when he looks at me?
How much this changes things! My wife is aware of my little technique of Objectify and Wife-ify. So imagine the same scenario…
There’s no awkwardness for me. I’m just sitting there fantasizing about my wife while cuddling with my wife. Win/win. Then consider her angle. If her insecurity arises, it has no fuel to burn; she knows she’s the one in my head! Instead of silent questions of fear and doubt, she voices sensual curiosity aloud. “Was I good? Would you like that? Should I try it sometime?” Rather than fearing I put the face of some actress on her, she knows I’ve put her face on that actress (more or less).
The Big Picture
If her insecurity arises, it has no fuel to burn. Instead of silent questions of fear and doubt, she voices sensual curiosity aloud. “Was I good? Would you like that?”
My client’s dress inspires a shopping trip to find a similar neckline for my wife. A music video inspires a new striptease move after I point it out in an email. When I see a cute bra in a Victoria’s Secret magazine ad, it — gasp!— motivates me to go buy a cute bra for my wife! Of course, not from Victoria’s Secret, thanks to their annoying limits on cup size.
But the effect is universal. All these stimuli, all these opportunities for sin, and each one drives me to my wife.
To be clear, this is no replacement for bouncing of the eyes. It’s too slippery a slope for that. But it makes an excellent complementary technique that can easily handle what slips through the cracks.