Reader Question: My Husband Checks Out Other Women at the Beach!

by | Jun 24, 2019 | Pornography, Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 90 comments

What do you do if your husband openly checks out other women when you're at the beach? Here's some advice!

Summer is here, and many of us are heading to the beach! But what do you do if the beach is a minefield because your husband checks out other women?

Some women have written in having this problem. Here’s one woman who says that whenever they’re in public (even at the beach!), her husband looks at other women:

Reader Question

I have not noticed any signs that my husband is still doing porn. My problem is that he still has a wandering eye for beautiful women when we go out. My self esteem was not good before I found out about the porn and after that it was in the negative so say the least! I have told him how much his looking bothers and hurts me. I know this is a difficult thing for men and his comeback was that all men do it! We can go out on a nice date and I come home feeling like crap about myself because he’s checking out other women and then wants sex when we get home, while I’m crushed and angry. Do I say something to him when I notice it? What should I say? I want to be loving and not angry and start a fight everytime we go out (which doesn’t happen right now because I just stew and cry in silence). I love the beach, but last summer I could barely take it and silently cried the whole time (sunglasses help alot). We had a marriage speaker at church last week and we went for a date night and of course there was a beautiful woman to the side and behind us and he turned around 7-8 times to get a look. I try so hard to ignore it, but when he’s actually turning his body to get a look, it’s hard to ignore!

Another long-time reader commented a while back, saying this:

Reader Question

My husband says that he can’t go to the beach because there are too many scantily-clad women there who would cause him to lust. But that means that we can’t go camping (where there are always beaches) or go to the beach together as a family. I feel like my kids miss out on summer because my husband can’t handle himself in public. How do I not get mad? 

Let me deal with the second letter writer first–whose husband is afraid he’s lusting.

I’ve written recently on how noticing a woman is beautiful is not lusting–and we need to stop saying that it is.

Many Christian men are honestly trying to honour their wives by making sure that they don’t lust. But when they’ve been taught that even being tempted to lust is lusting (because you’re thinking of a woman in sexual terms), then noticing a woman has breasts becomes dangerous. The way to get around this is to “bounce the eyes”, as Every Man’s Battle teaches, something that all men should be doing at all times, so they never fixate on a woman.

However, bouncing the eyes at the beach is an exercise in futility, because no matter where you look, there will be a woman whose body is visible. So you’re stuck. So men who truly want to honour their wives may refuse to go the beach.

I understand that they are trying to be kind, but does anyone else see how ridiculous this is? If a man can’t have fun with his kids doing something that all kids really enjoy, something is seriously wrong.

This teaching that noticing a woman is beautiful means that you’re lusting has created a whole generation of hyper-vigilant men who are super-stressed all the time about lust. And it means that they’re missing out on life.

So I would show him the article on how noticing is not lusting and talk it over with him, and then say something like this:

Honey, I appreciate your desire to remain faithful to me and honour me. However, I need to tell you: The fact that you don’t think that you can see another woman without mentally undressing her and imagining yourself having sex with her is very concerning to me, and does not make me feel cared for. If the presence of a beautiful woman automatically means that you will lust, then we have serious problems. You need to be seeing a counsellor. You need to be having people seriously pray over you. You need to be confessing a whole lotta sin. Because that is simply not right.

If that still doesn’t work, then try this:

How about when we go the beach you concentrate on playing with the kids in the water, and building sandcastles with the kids, and playing with the kids? If you keep your eyes on the kids, then that should keep your mind in the right place!

If a man can’t go to the beach with his children without lusting after other people, then there is a serious problem.

Now let’s turn to the first woman, whose husband truly is checking out other women in public.

I want to be clear here that her husband is sinning in all kinds of ways: He’s sinning against his wife by ogling and lusting after other women; he’s sinning against God and he’s sinning against that woman by objectifying her and intimidating her. While some women may honestly want men to check them out, the majority of women do not want men staring at their chests or their backsides. When men objectify us like this, it makes us feel very unsafe. If strangers view us as sexual objects, then how do we know a stranger won’t take that even further?

We now have to be hyper-vigilant that we won’t be hurt. This is creepy, it is dangerous, and it is just plain wrong. It needs to stop.

However, instead of drawing boundaries, this woman seems to be showing a complete and utter lack of communication. She cries in silence behind her sunglasses; she tries to ignore it; she doesn’t say anything.

We are not meant to enable sin. We do not need to accept this. Setting boundaries is a positive thing. It says, “this is what I am willing to tolerate, and this is what I am not willing to tolerate.”

A lot of people have trouble with the concept of boundaries, so let me show you what this may look like when he’s checking out other women:

When you’re out in public, the first time he obviously ogles another woman, say to him,

“I see that you are checking out another woman. That is disrespectful to me and to her, and if you do it again, I will leave because I will not stand here while you ogle women.”

Then, if he does do it again, you can get up, put your arm on his arm, and say,

“Honey, you are still openly checking out other women. I find that humiliating, so I’m going to leave the kids with you and head on out and get my own dinner or do something to get into a better head space again. You can text me when you and the kids are ready to go home.”

Or grab an Uber or a bus and head home yourself, or better yet take the car.

What if you’re at the beach with the kids? This one may be a little more difficult, because it may be harder to just leave, especially if you’re far from home and you only have one method of transportation home. In that case, issue the warning as before, and if he does it again, you can say,

“You’re being direspectful towards me and to the women around us, and I will not be made to sit here while you do that. You can take care of the kids, and I’m going further down the beach by myself to take a walk so I can still enjoy this outing. Text me when you and the kids are ready to go.”

And then leave him with the kids. Or, if it’s later in the day, cut the day short and go home. The kids need to also know that there are some things that you won’t put up with because they’re just wrong–even if it makes them upset, and even if it makes Daddy upset. There’s a bigger point to be made here, which is that you do not allow yourself to be treated that way, and you do not enable sinful behaviour.

So that’s an example of what setting boundaries could look like (and you may also have other ideas of how to handle it). But what you’re saying is that there are certain behaviours that you will not tolerate, and it’s important that your husband reaps what he sows. That doesn’t mean that you change him; but you do change how you reacts when he chooses to do things.

And if he makes an issue out of it, he makes an issue out of it. That’s okay. That’s his prerogative. He can get angry at you if he wants. But seeing him look at other women is disrespectful and hurtful towards you, and you need to say, “I will not sit here while you do that.”

A lot of men struggle with checking out other women in public, especially if they grew up with porn or if they grew up in a culture that taught that masculinity meant staring at women.

If he’s a good-hearted guy in general and doesn’t mean anything by it, then having conversations about how much it hurts you, how inappropriate it is, and how hurtful it is to the women in question may be a better first step. And if it’s just a habit that he looks at other women, but he really does want to stop, then putting your hand on his arm and saying a quiet reminder, “Eyes!” may do the trick.

But if he does this persistently and deliberately, despite your pleas for him not to, then you need to decide what it is that you are willing to tolerate.

Ogling women is a sin. And ogling women makes the public sphere an unsafe place for women in general.

We need to start speaking up and saying, “That’s not appropriate.”

And, please, don’t tell me that men can’t help it if they see bikinis. They can. It is a choice what you think about. I know so many men who can go to the beach and just have a great time with their families. It totally is possible.

Of course it’s going to be harder, and if your husband is a recently recovering porn addict, then maybe the beach isn’t a good idea for the time being. But to say that a man can never, ever go to the beach because of the women there–well, then I think he’s the one with the problem.

How can you help a husband who is struggling with lust? 

If you have a husband who has struggled with porn in the past, is currently struggling, or tends to have a habit of checking out women when he’s out in public, there are things you can do to help him re-train his brain. 

With so many men exposed to pornography for the first time before they even hit puberty, having safeguards in place to make accidentally seeing content less likely can be a huge weight off of both of your shoulders. 

Covenant Eyes is a really amazing software that helps protect your family against the dangers of pornography. It has a filter you can use, but also an accountability system where a friend or trusted mentor will get an email with information about the sites that your spouse was on over the last week. 

It’s a fantastic program that has helped to restore marriages and has changed lives. Check it out here.

Studies have shown that lust can be defeated if you concentrate on how much you love your long-term partner. So if he’s concentrating on how much he loves you, and if he’s playing with his kids, then he should be able to have fun without imagining having sex with strange women.

What do you do when your husband openly checks out other women at the beach or out in public? Here's some advice for wives!

Am I being too hard on men? Let me know in the comments! (And let’s try to not talk about whether bikinis are okay or not, all right? Regardless of what  you choose to wear, there WILL be women in bikinis at the beach. So let’s just deal with reality here!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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90 Comments

  1. Chelle

    Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for this great article.

    My only concern is that I have recently come out of an emotionally abusive relationship with a man who was very controlling. He would accuse me of ogling other men whenever we went out (I wasn’t) I ended up walking with my head down in public so as not to provoke his anger. He didn’t want me speaking to other men (this included waiters), he gave me an acceptable age range where I could speak to a man (they had to be younger than 15 but older than 60).

    Sorry I’m rambling, but my point is that I guess sometimes the person accused of ogling may be perfectly innocent and the spouse is controlling? Maybe I’m confusing two issues, sorry if I’ve gone off track.

    Love your articles, they have really helped me so much in the past year to be healthy and whole again after feeling like a shadow of myself.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      No, don’t apologize! That’s certainly a very valid point, and I know that this is certainly the case for many people’s marriages.

      Here’s the thing about boundaries, though: A person can put up a boundary, which basically says: If you cross one of my boundary lines, this is how I will act. It doesn’t dictate how you act; it says THIS IS HOW I WILL ACT. But then the other person can also set up strong boundaries.

      So if a spouse is being controlling and is accusing you of ogling when you were not, and then does this, that’s your spouse’s prerogative. But it’s also your prerogative to insist that you see a marriage counselor; to separate from a controlling spouse and get some help; to call the police if you feel that you are in danger. If a spouse is being controlling, it is also incumbent on you to get yourself to safety and your kids to safety, and that’s totally okay! I’m glad you’re free of the controlling man; I pray that you will find a healthy community where you can better discern next time people’s character.

      Reply
  2. Phil Johnson

    Matt.5:28 says , Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful INTENT has already committed adultery. Or as the 10 commandments say, Do not covet your neighbors wife. The idea Jesus is getting across is that it is not wrong to look at a woman and have a sexual thought, but it is wrong to covet, to think how can I get that body into bed. The sexual thought is there because it is a natural appetite of the body. It is not wrong to appreciate a beautiful woman. It is wrong to keep going back a letting our minds develop it further. See Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Phil, I would agree that it is not wrong to notice that someone is attractive, as I have written at length on in noticing is not lusting. However, to stare at a woman in public and to ogle is lust. Even if you’re saying “all he’s doing is appreciating her beauty”, he is also creating an unsafe environment for the women at home he is staring, and it needs to stop.

      Reply
    • Samantha

      Phil, your comment is a perfect example of why it is incredibly dangerous to try to water down the scripture and God’s expectations for the way we should be living. A person ALLOWING themselves to have a sexual thought about another person does not just happen. Human beings have much more control over our thoughts than we realize. The problem is that we get lazy. We allow life to make us so busy that we go into “autopilot” when it comes to our thoughts. We get sloppy and we don’t take thoughts captive the way we are commanded to. 2 Corinthians  10:5 is a command but it is also proof that our thoughts are very much under our control. We can choose to make our thoughts obedient to Christ. I understand the tendency to want to blame sexual thoughts on something like “natural appetite”, but in doing that you are giving the body more power than the spirit. Frankly it’s just making an excuse for an unwillingness to become more self-disciplined in a certain area of sin. God CAN help a person to become more disciplined, but the person has to make the first move and be willing to do the work. Yes, God could force us to be obedient if He wanted to, but He wants it to be our choice and that is why He gave us free will.

      Reply
  3. M

    Good morning!
    I believe, and would like to suggest that, for the wife whose husband is ogling other women at the beach, it is totally okay to not go to the beach! I know this is a fun activity for the family but there ARE other options. Should the husband still work on his behaviour? Absolutely! And the wife can still set boundaries. This is the same as the woman or man who needs to control their sweet tooth; you don’t frequent doughnut shops or purchase unlimited sweets for in the home etc. Or the person recovering from alcohol addiction. That person must stay away from places where he/she is tempted to drink at all. Is the beach a fun place to be? Yes, however, there are sacrifices to make in order to make relationships work, in spite of our personal wants.
    I have friends who regularly sought out a more private beach and area so that they could avoid the temptation, while still working on correcting the problem. Other friends I know frequented other places like splash parks and even others put up a pool at home and only rarely went to the beach.
    Like I said, I understand that going to the beach is fun but so are many other events, and not every family can take part in all (eg. children up in Nunavut don’t enjoy beaches like we do here so they enjoy something else). We can also choose to enjoy other activities – there are many to choose from.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a good point, M. I just think that for kids, the beach is a really really fun place, and every kid deserves to go the beach if it’s possible. And especially since camping usually involves beaches, if you say all beaches are off-limits, then in most places you’re also saying camping is off-limits. That’s a lot to deprive kids of, depending on where you live. If a guy truly has an issue that he’s working on where he is aiming to recovery, that’s one thing. But if a guy refuses to acknowledge the problem, or if he just says, “I’m always going to be like this” and is making no effort to get better, then I do think that’s a separate issue.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Also, in line with M’s comment, I think it would also be appropriate for a wife to say, “Hey, I’m not going to go to the beach with you because you humiliate and disrespect me and other women by how you look at them. So I’m taking the kids to the beach, we’re going to have a great day, and then we’ll meet you back home for dinner later.”

        Then you can literally just leave and have a beach day with the kids and potentially a few other family friends. If going to the beach is a problem for your husband that he’s not willing to deal with, then you don’t have to be willing to go to the beach with him. But you also don’t need to stop going to the beach yourself.

        Reply
        • Bumblebee

          And, if his concern is his own struggle with lust, why would he even want to keep his family from the beach? If he feels jealous about it, then he (hopefully) would deal with that feeling himself, instead of wanting other people to manage his emotions.

          Reply
      • Lindsey

        I’m not sure where you live, but most of our camping involves forests. Although Texas has a TON of state parks with just about every type of ecosystem you can imagine. My favorites are the semiarid, red rocked desserts. But we have been camping at the beach exactly one time. It was fun. However, I just wanted to mention that there are a lot of camping opportunities in non-beach settings.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yeah, that’s likely true in some areas! Definitely not where I live (we have lakes everywhere, and every campground pretty much is on a lake!). It does depend where you live.

          Reply
          • Lindsey

            It isn’t that there aren’t lakes, there generally is some body of water, but the beach there may have one or two other people – unless you go on a holiday weekend, which would be a bad idea anyway because who wants to camp in crowds? – because people can only access the lake through the park. It isn’t like staying in a condo in Miami where there are throngs of women in bikinis. I would think under those circumstances temptation, if any, would be very limited.

  4. Phil

    He good morning. With regard to the guy blatantly looking and disregarding I agree and have no other comment. For the guy who doesnt want to go to the beach for fear of lusting – I hear that all the time with the guys I work with in sex addiction recovery. Its a start but bottom line is grow up. I never took that mentality. I i stead changed my MO. Why am i going to the beach? Not to oogle women but to be with my family. So YES focus on the kids. And you know what else? The closer you sit to the water the less you see. One of my tools I started using and is now a common thing we do as a family at the beach is go to the water and look for crabs or shells or go fishing. The bottom line is when your at the water there is a lot less to look at. I genuinely want to list have other women…so I do use tools bur I have been doing it so long it is second nature. One other thing Grace used to do was if she noticed me looking to long she would touch me. It is not her job to keep me from lusting but it was something she did to help me because she knew I didnt want to lust. Where we are today – a few years ago we were at the beach and some woman/Mom was scantily clad and was taking selfies of herself by the water and making the Dad intaking her “sexy poses”. I was doing my best to ignore but it was so ridiculous that even my wife pointed it out to me we both laughed. Admittedly, I then kept looking and finally my wife said ok you can stop looking now and we both laughed. Anyway I think for the guy who wants to not lust its totally doable to go to the beach and bot lust. I did it and still do. If I can do it so can you.

    Reply
    • M

      Phil, congrats on making it work! And working on making it work! I like the suggestion of sitting closer to the water, especially when you’re there with the kids; it only makes good sense – you have access to all the water and sand to build castles etc. AND keeping your back to those behind you.

      Reply
    • Phil

      Typo – I genuinely do not want to lust after other women.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome, Phil! And that’s exactly what I was trying to say, too. If a guy is just concentrating on having fun with his kids, and on building sand castles, then lust really shouldn’t be an issue. Just be a dad! And I also love how your wife entered into the problem with you and would nudge you when things took a wrong turn. When a guy is really trying to fight it, then simply reminding him with a nudge or an “eyes!” is perfectly fine. My concern is when guys won’t acknowledge it.

      Reply
  5. Dean

    Don’t wear sunglasses at the beach — or at least that helped me. Sunglasses give you the impression that nobody can see that you are looking, and that is actually not true, you are very visibly and publicly disrespecting your wife. Not wearing sunglasses can help break the habit. Also, of course, lastingly quitting porn and masturbation.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s really good! I like that. (Although my mother who is always trying to get me to wear them because of UV rays etc. may object. But I totally think that’s a good strategy for those getting out of the lust trap.)

      Reply
      • Dean

        I think the best UV protection is not wearing sunglasses. Then you feel the light and naturally hide your eyes from it. Supposedly glasses with UV protection can be dangerous because sometimes after a while they actually lose their UV filter due to being subjected to temperature differences. Which cannot be seen. I don’t know if that’s 100% accurate though, I don’t have the equipment to test it 🙂

        Reply
        • Matt

          My wife is an optometrist, and it is 100% inaccurate. She’s heard that before, and the science just doesn’t support a “feel and hide” strategy…whatever that is.

          One should have several pair of sunglasses available when you know you’ll be exposed to sunlight. UV sunlight can pass thru your eyelids and cause damage. Simply hiding your eyes “naturally” when you “feel” the light…whatever that means…may help you counter lusting, but it’s gonna do exactly jack for your ocular health.

          Reply
          • RNmom

            Too hard?? No! I think you found a respectful response to disrespectful behavior. I remember seeing a girl in the mall years ago smack her boyfriend in the back of the head for checking out another girl…while that is drastic she got the point across!!! Oogling at other woman is never going to end the night well…so sad for these men who are thinking the grass is always greener etc.

          • Dean

            Matt, that would be the case if there was an easy way to check if a pair of sunglasses really protect from UV, which is not the case. You could think that they protect from UV while they actually don’t, because you bought a cheap model, or you bought an expensive model but it was fake, or due to scratches that you didn’t notice, or because you inadvertently washed them with something you shouldn’t have used, or because they heated up and cooled down quickly leading to micro-fissures, etc. And if you wore shades that you thought protect against UV, but for some reason they actually didn’t, they might have done more harm than if you were not wearing any shades. That’s because when you are wearing sunglasses, you are exposing your eyes to (hopefully filtered) sunlight much more, which is natural.

    • RNmom

      Or get the ones that still protect without hiding your eyes behind mirrored lenses….to protect your wife and your eyes 😆

      Reply
  6. Doug P

    As a man I fully understand the struggle most men go through in this area.
    I’ll try and explain it from a mans point of view and the thought process we can go through sometimes.
    Every man sees the pretty girl. Period. Pastor, godliest man you know , he sees her. Now from here is where self control comes into play. You have talked about this moment. It is so true. We have a choice to go back for a second look and let our minds wander or we can choose. Yes it is a choice. We CHOOSE to honor our wives and allow our mind to acknowledge the beauty and go on, you can just look straight ahead, you can move to a safer location or you can totally avert your eyes. What ever it takes. But the fact and difference here lies in the second or two after you see her.

    For most men I have discussed this with they don’t see the connection to looking and hurting their wife because to them they are two totally different boxes. Try this. Ask him how he would feel if you did the same when I hunky guy walks by or a sexy movie actor comes on screen. And you made no bones about ogling his body? My guess is he wouldn’t like that very much.

    Here is the other thing. This is not just when your wife is present. This is even when your by yourself. We as men will probably never get past the way our eyes snap to a shapely figure but it’s how you care for your wife’s heart after that instinctive reaction. After that you should be in control.

    I think your right about just putting blinders on and not going places just because a temptation might be there. Wow i could never go to a nice restaurant ever again. Or a hiking supply place (I love hiking gear) the temptation would be to great. Yet I can control those urges. This just takes practice and a determination that your going to honor God and your wife with your eyes.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Doug! I really appreciate this comment (and all the guys chiming in! Thank you!).

      And you’re right–just making those places off limits doesn’t deal with the heart. You have to deal with the heart.

      Reply
      • M

        You’re right…you absolutely have to deal with the heart, and I believe I mentioned that the husband has to be working on it BUT his spouse is also there to be a support. When this is a real problem, and the husband sincerely is moving ahead to make changes he will need all the help he can get, initially, to know what it should look like. I realize that he can’t avoid all nice restaurants etc. but, already in everyday life he will come upon many an opportunity to avert his eyes, let alone frequenting the beach. It sounds like an easy solution to say he has to deal with it (and he DOES) but a spouse who really cares will do her best to set him up for success, especially if, like I said, he is sincerely making an effort. As he learns to manage his behaviour better they can move ahead to some of the beloved activities they needed to avoid.

        Reply
  7. Anon

    my husband is in SA recovery and the first woman’s letter has major red flags. She wrote “I have not noticed any signs that my husband is still doing porn.“ But then later said, “ I have told him how much his looking bothers and hurts me. I know this is a difficult thing for men and his comeback was that all men do it!”
    That is the sign that he is probably doing porn. If he is justifying anything remotely relating to lustful behaviors- he isn’t in recovery. Or maybe he has stopped some of the porn, but the lust isn’t done. If he stopped on his own without getting to the root of the issue that was driving the behavior, he isn’t in recovery. Any decent recovery program or support group would squash the “every man does it” comment in a heartbeat.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for that, Anon! Totally agree.

      Reply
  8. Jason Bronson

    This all sounds so sad to me because: do women even like men? Why don’t women have trouble with lust? It isn’t cool what women go through, but it’s also not cool that we as guys aren’t considered sexual beings in general? I would trade places with a woman, even a harassed woman, in a New York minute.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Jason, I don’t think you understand how absolutely offensive and horrible that is to say. Do you know what it is like to be scared when you go out in public at night? To feel objectified because guys don’t look at you as a person, but only for your body? You may think that sounds fun, but what if that guy is drunk, and twice as big as you, and really scary looking? What if that guy is your boss, and you don’t like him at all, but your paycheque depends on it?

      Please understand that harassment is not about sex; it is about power and safety. You’re making it into something about sex, but for most women, this is not about sex. This is about feeling safe going out in public, and feeling like we’re being treated like whole people. If you want to have good relationships with women, I’d recommend never, ever saying that to any woman, because, quite frankly, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Reply
      • Jason Bronson

        Sheila, I don’t think you understand how terrible it is for most of us men, who are not thought of as sexual beings by everyday women, deserving of desire. You really cannot grasp or comprehend this. I really feel, to your deepest core as a woman, you just cannot understand this. I might as well be speaking Tagalog. As a woman, you don’t understand what it’s like to be generally shown little to no sexual desire without doing a lot of the initiating yourself. And you talk about the fear women have of being assaulted. But the truth is that men are physically assaulted more by other men than women are by men. And yet men don’t live in as much fear. Is it because we shouldn’t? No, we should probably live in more fear than we do, and women should live in less fear than they do.

        Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      To add to what Sheila said, too, many women DO struggle with lust. But not struggling with lust is not the same thing as not finding someone attractive, so the “do women even like men” sentiment just doesn’t make sense to me. Just because women in general don’t tend to objectify men as often as men objectify women doesn’t mean that women don’t like men–you don’t have to sin against someone in order to like them.

      But the sentiment that it’s better to be harrassed than to be ignored really really does sound like telling a rape victim, “Well at least you’ve had sex!” I know you likely don’t mean it that way, but that is simply how it sounds. So please understand the degrading experience of being lusted after–it’s not the same as being flirted with. It’s humiliating and scary and not something to be envious of.

      Reply
      • Jason Bronson

        Rebecca, rape is terrible. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the 999,999 times out of 1,000,000 where ogling or sexual harassment doesn’t lead to actual physical rape. As a woman who I know has received a lot of attention from the opposite sex, you have no idea how downright awful it feels to know that, as a guy, I will very, very seldom be sexually appreciated by everyday women. You get too much sexual attention likely, and you don’t like it. But, believe me, the reverse is every bit as awful – I would argue it is worse (not counting actual rape of course). But like your mom, I might as well be talking in a foreign language, not because you’re trying to be mean, but because this is such the opposite experience of what you’ve always likely known.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Jason, you still don’t understand: being lusted after is a degrading experience. NOT an empowering one. Being flirted with? Sure! That can be fun and innocent and make you feel pretty and desired.

          I am sorry if you have felt rejected in your life, but you are showing a lot of ignorance here in this matter. You seem to be continuously conflating flirtation with lust and ogling and really don’t understand the difference. If you did, there is no way you would be making these comments I believe because I don’t think you are a malicious person.

          I will make this clear and be honest to illustrate the difference: being flirted with is very nice, yes. Now that I’m married, it is uncomfortable when it happens (for both parties if he didn’t realize I was married), but it does not feel dangerous. But that’s not what we’re talking about here because flirting isn’t the same thing as sexual objectification. Being seen by a man primarily as a sexual object has always been, and will always be, a terrifying and degrading experience. Getting followed down a street by a guy cat calling you isn’t a thrill and doesn’t make you feel pretty–I get out my phone and pre-dial 911.

          Also, saying that sexual advances normally don’t lead to rape so most of them must be OK is like saying if you play Russian Roulette only one of the chambers has a bullet, so why would you find the rest of them all that bad? It’s still scary, and the fear of what might happen still exists. Also, even if you aren’t raped, you were still objectified which is in and of itself quite damaging and humiliating.

          In terms of your comment that men are assaulted more than women, that is a blatantly false statement when it comes to sexual assault. Yes, men are often the victims of sexual violence. But women are more often the victims. We simply do have more to fear by a man being openly lustful towards us than men do based on statistics alone.

          In the context of this particular conversation, I frankly don’t care how terrible it is for men who feel like they aren’t seen as sexual beings. That’s not what we’re talking about here. When you hear that someone is hurting, you don’t say “But I’m hurting more.” You say, “How can I help with your hurt?”

          Just letting you know that I won’t be letting through any more comments that downplay sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. I believe that you have been given a fair time to air what you had to say, but if there are any more comments that minimize sexual abuse (because that is what we are talking about, let’s be clear) I will be moderating or editing to remove content because we want to keep this a safe place for rape victims, abuse victims, and women who are healing from being consistently humiliated and damaged by sexual harassment.

          Reply
          • Jason Bronson

            [Once again, despite being told how unwittingly inappropriate his comments have been, Jason continued to downplay the damaging effects of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances so we will be removing this comment. Sexual harassment is not a joke, not something to be taken lightly, and not a privilege that women “get to” experience.

            Jason, we have nothing against you personally. However, your comment made it clear you are not listening to what is being said; it seems that rather than listening to women’s experiences with sexual harassment, violence, and assault, you are simply looking for somewhere to air your grievances with women.]

          • Dean

            Jason, this is a fallacy.

            “I really really want to be catcalled” -> “I am sure most men really really want that too, most of the time” -> “Therefore a more balanced opinion on catcalling should be expressed, where its merits and benefits are mentioned too.”

            “I want to commit suicide, and many people commit suicide” -> “I am really sure that most people really want to die” -> “We need to change the way we talk about murder and really put an effort to show its good sides.”

            Doesn’t work like that. Statistics show that the vast majority of the time the vast majority of women don’t want to be catcalled and hate the experience. Therefore don’t catcall women. So extremely simple…

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Thank you, Dean. It’s always encouraging to see men stand up for women and take these things seriously!

          • Chris

            Rebecca, i cannot speak for Jason and his inappropriate comments and i am glad they are being moderated. But there is a common sentiment in a few of his sentences that not so eloquently summarize how a lot of men feel in this life: that we are invisible and that no one knows we are here or values us for what we do.

          • E

            Attractive women can feel invisible too. Because it feels like ALL people notice is what’s on the outside and not who they REALLY are inside. And being ogled makes that feeling worse.

            I think men feeling invisible and devalued is a valid feeling. But not necessarily relevant to this blog post and definitely not in the disgusting way it was expressed by Jason.

    • Ashley

      Uhhh yes. Women like men. Way too much, in fact! That’s what gets many of us abused and cheated on!

      Here is a scenario for you to imagine. How would you feel if a woman twice your age, and twice your weight was coming on to you? AND she gets sexually turned on by porn that shows 10 women raping 1 guy? Isn’t that sooooo creepy?

      Reply
    • Mae

      Jason, maybe you don’t understand what harassment looks like. Picture walking down a sidewalk and having a man or group of men block your path and start shouting how sexy you are. Picture crossing a parking lot and having a group of men shouting sexual remarks, whooping, hollering and aping sex acts with their bodies. A man blocking your path at work, asking your age, and telling you he thought you were “about (pause here for bedroom eyes and a long up-and-down look) 15.” Or telling you you’d make a great pole dancer. Stalking you from one end of a Walmart to the other. Or, worst of all, a complete stranger actually putting their hands (or worse) on you, as if your body is public property.

      This is what harassment looks like, Jason. It should have any rational person up in arms. The Bible tells men to treat older women as mothers in Christ, and younger women as sisters. Would you want your daughter, wife, sister, or mother treated this way? If she were, would you just tell her that she should be grateful for the attention? That this is what guys do, and she should be understanding of their desires? Sympathetic to their need for sexual attention? You might, and that would make you part of the problem. But hopefully you wouldn’t. Hopefully you will understand that this behavior is part of the reason that women are the fastest-growing group of gun buyers and carriers: because we have a right to feel safe, and a very real need to make ourselves safe from bigger, stronger predators. Hopefully you will understand, Jason, that this is not how Good wants his daughters to be treated, and you will both behave accordingly yourself, and spread God’s message to other men on this issue, as several other men on this forum have done.

      Reply
      • Mae

        *God, His.

        Reply
    • Lisa

      All i can say is this.

      I don’t mind being ogled or cat-called by other women. It hasn’t happened a lot, but it has happened. I can totally appreciate how men say they wouldn’t feel threatened if a woman ogled him.

      But we’re talking about being ogled by MEN.

      So, men. Imagine yourself walking a few blocks back to your car. You’re all alone on this street. Then you see a group of 3 men staring at you, intently. They’re all bigger and stronger than you. Just one of them could over power you. Against all three you don’t stand a chance. At first you think they want your wallet or to pick a fight. Until you hear them.

      “Wow, he is FINE.”

      “Mmm, i want a piece of THAT!”

      “It would be so nice to pound him!”

      “I bet he’s nice and tight.”

      Are you flattered? Do you feel desirable because these men want to penetrate you and probably tear your flesh in the process?

      I know this is graphic and disturbing. These is how it feels to be ogled and cat-called. You are no longer a person. You are someone to be dominated and used. You are body parts without a soul. You exist for their depraved gratification.

      Reply
  9. Rebecca

    I had a conversation with my husband about this. He has struggled with porn in the past, (thankfully God set him free from that) and he said it’s basically impossible not to notice an attractive woman, or not to notice if a woman is wearing something revealing.

    BUT his opinion is that it’s almost impossible to think lustfully about someone if you are having care & empathy for them, and seeing them as a person that is loved by God. He might notice something about their body (a bit like noticing that someone only has, say, one arm – but much more intense) but he says that he has learnt to consciously focus on them as a person, and God’s love for them, rather than being distracted by their body.

    The teaching that says that lust is a constant battle for every man, and they can’t do much about it, etc raises an important question – as believers, we are supposed to spread the gospel, and prepared to witness to to people as the opportunity arises. How can you share the gospel with a woman if all you are thinking about is her body?! She is a person who Jesus died on the cross to save – she’s not an object for you to stare at/drool over – or even have to avoid looking at altogether. To me this seems to a struggle that would be normal for teenage boys and younger, single men who are struggling with their hormones etc. Not mature, married (or even unmarried) men who should know better.

    And yes, porn is a big factor in basically conditioning men to objectify women by default. But it’s a problem too that a lot of advice for Christian men is geared around “bouncing their eyes” etc, and not around how to see women as people rather than sex objects. 🙄

    [Moderator: Rebecca, I saw your comment and made that quick edit for you to fix the typo!]

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Rebecca, I completely agree! This whole “bounce your eyes” thing implies that men will never be able to see women as anything other than objects. It actually hurts the problem, it doesn’t help the problem. And what you’ve said is exactly what research has found, as I talked about in my article on how men may be visual, but that doesn’t mean they have to lust. When you concentrate on the whole person, lust is far less common. I hope that teaching will start veering more in this direction: Just think of women as whole people. That’s what the gospel is. That’s what Jesus would do. Why would we do any less?

      Reply
  10. Jason Bronson

    Dean, I never advocated for catcalling women. Rebecca, I never did advocate for it, did I?

    Reply
    • Jason Bronson

      Rebecca/Dean, let me make this analogy. Let’s say guys were given a new pair of shoes every day, for free. And most guys were like “I don’t care about shoes. I don’t like getting new shoes. STOP giving me shoes!” Many women, maybe most women, would probably be like “What??? Are you kidding me? What’s not to like? I would LOVE to get a new pair of shoes every day!” And they would have little sympathy for men. See my point?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Jason, I’m letting this through because sometimes I want proof that people on the internet, and especially some Christians, truly don’t understand the nature of sexual assault.

        You are comparing being given a new pair of shoes with sexual harrassment and assault. If you do not understand how horribly offensive that is, then I don’t know what else to say.

        So let me ask you this: Can you see the difference between sex and rape? Do you understand why women may not want to be raped? Because it doesn’t sound like you can. Jason, you need to stop. It is not that women need to understand how wonderful sexual harrassment actually is and be grateful for it; it is that men need to understand how horrifying it is. We do not need to understand how much you would like to be harrassed; you need to understand the horror, fear, and humiliation that is harrassment.

        And Jason–if every woman tells you this, can you see that perhaps they may have a point? And it’s time for you to rethink this? There is a huge difference between unwanted sexual attention and flirting. Unwanted sexual attention is UNWANTED. And often the reason it is unwanted is because it is threatening. To have someone approach you sexually when you are in public is threatening. It is. The fact that you are refusing to see this means that you do not understand women at all. And perhaps that is why you are having difficulty with women, since you are saying that you long for women to sexually harrass you. You’re obviously looking for some attention from women. Let me suggest that you are far more likely to find women who are receptive to you if you start trying to understand them. And trying to convince women that harrassment and assault aren’t really that bad will not do it. Believe me.

        Reply
        • Jason Bronson

          Sheila, analogies by their very nature are flawed. I’ll admit that the shoe analogy leaves much to be desired though. There’s a point of mine you’re not getting though. I am NOT saying that women don’t want to be sexually harassed. I am NOT saying that they should like it because a lot of guys would like it. What I AM saying though is that this is a difficult area for guys to sympathize with. Let me give another analogy, knowing that it is flawed too. Women not wanting to be sexually harassed sounds to a lot of men like saying “I hate being stabbed, except under the right conditions, and then I love being stabbed!” It is hard for guys to grasp how something could sometimes feel so right, and then at other times feel so wrong. And I know why – as guys, we don’t understand what it’s like to often feel physically threatened by the opposite sex. We don’t associate sexual attraction with danger. Yes, we don’t understand the horror of the thought of rape by the OPPOSITE sex as innately as women do. The opposite sex to us is a physically-weaker, but beautifully softer, creature. The opposite sex to women is a physically-stronger, but sometimes-wonderful, creature. Yes, it is DIFFICULT for guys to understand sexual harassment the way women do. We need to do a better job. But, likewise, women need to understand why this is difficult for us. Stabbing never feels good under any circumstances, punching doesn’t feel good under any circumstances, etc., but there are times for women when sexual attention also doesn’t feel good. This is truly mind-blowing for many of us guys, since sexual attention not only feels good to us, it feels good above perhaps all else. Am I making my points better now?

          Reply
          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Jason, you are making the point that you still don’t understand the difference between sexual attention that is flirtatious and not objectifying of her versus dangerous and uncomfortable for her.

            Again, you say that we “need” to understand that men find this difficult to grasp. But there are many men on this website who think that what you are saying is ridiculous. In fact, my own husband called out from across the apartment when he read your comments that he was appalled by what you were saying.

            This is not a men issue. This is an issue of misunderstanding the danger and the evil that is sexual objectification. And saying that this is a men’s issue is a cop-out that is not true. Many men understand that women’s experiences are valid and are not to be dismissed in case a man feels left out. Many men out there are champions of women, doing their best not to gain sympathy but to rather empower each other to live better.

            Your comment should have ended at “we need to do a better job.” Full stop. Women do not “likewise” need to understand that you find it difficult sometimes that women don’t offer sexual attention your way as often as you would like. Because these are fundamentally different things.

            Sexual harassment is not the same thing as wanted flirtation. We have told you again and again that you are comparing two different things and you still don’t understand that. This is not a men’s issue–this is an ignorance issue. So please stop saying that this is something guys just deal with, because I personally know many men who would be horrified to be lumped into that generality. Men who are brave enough to stand up to defend women instead of putting them down by trying to convince them that their struggles really aren’t that bad.

      • Blessed Wife

        Are they giving you the shoes?

        Or chasing you down throwing shoes at you? Picking them up when you keep walking only to chase you down and lob them at you again until you turn around? Ugly shoes, filthy smelly shoes, shoes that don’t even fit you​?

        Now we have a something like a comparable analogy.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Jason, you said that you would like to be harrassed, implying that harrassment, and all that it implies, is not that bad. Catcalling is a huge part of harrassment.

      Reply
      • Jason Bronson

        [Once again, Jason implied that getting harassed would be something that men want, implying that Rebecca’s husband specifically would enjoy being sexually harassed back when he was single.]

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Jason, Rebecca keeps telling me to delete your comments, but for some reason I don’t.

          Let me repeat: Why is it so important to you that women understand men’s hurt feelings, when you seem utterly incapable of understanding the physical threat that a woman feels? You need to ask God to change your heart and make you sympathetic to your sisters in Christ, and stop thinking about yourself. Real women are being harmed, and they are being harmed precisely BECAUSE of attitudes like yours. YOU are contributing to the sexual assault crisis, and that is why I am going to agree with Rebecca and not let any more of your comments through now.

          Comparing a woman’s threat of physical harm to a man wanting to feel sexually desired and thinking those are the same thing is ridiculous, and shows that you are diminishing what women feel. That is why sexual abuse is not taken seriously by the courts all too often–because many men think like you. May God have mercy on you, and may He wake you up before you do more harm.

          Reply
          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            It’s important to state, too, Jason, that at the beginning of this conversation I really did not believe that you were malicious towards women. I even said multiple times that I believed you were not coming from a bad place.

            But when we continue to say “We feel threatened by these things and that thinking is damaging to women” and you continue to persist in what you are saying, it does beg the question, “Do you actually care about women, or do you just care about women for what they can do for you?”

            We’ve had many men who have joined the blog with attitudes like yours who, by allowing their hearts to soften and by actually listening to the experience of others, have developed into really healthy, mature, wonderful warriors for their sisters in Christ. I hope that you are able to see that what you are saying is, frankly, selfish and ignorant, because it isn’t until we accept where we do not know and where we may be wrong that we’re able to grow.

            And Jason, if you honestly keep believe (as you have said again and again and again) that sexual harassment isn’t as big a deal as women think it is, you have a lot of growing to do.

          • Lindsey

            As a woman, I wanted to weigh in and say that yes – if you’re walking down a street alone and some guy followed you it would be terrifying. In fact, I cross the road when I see a guy and we’re the only two people in the street, regardless of what he looks like – and most men have NO ideas what it’s like to live that way. However, I’m unsure what this “catcaller” is saying, but unless he’s threatening assault or following you, I don’t view that as an act of violence or even harassment because I don’t think it would be applied universally. What I mean by that is if an old, fat, balding guy with tobacco stained teeth was to yell out “hey, gorgeous!” To a passerby she’d Be inclined to be like “I can’t stand being sexually harassed!” But if a young, fit, six foot three fireman was to yell out “hey, gorgeous!” to a passerby, she may roll her eyes, but would most likely be flattered. Why? Because we all appreciate the compliments and attention of those we view as desirable (which is what I think Jason was trying to get at, however misguided). I reject any definition of harassment that can’t be applied equally across the board. That’s why I view “catcalling” that doesn’t become overly graphic or lewd or “wolf-whistling” as someone trying to pay you a compliment (so long as personal space is respected). I know that saying this may not make me popular, but I don’t feel threatened by compliments, even from people I may would rather not be paying so much attention to me.

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            I actually do understand what you’re saying, Lindsey. We likely have different experiences with this, but I personally find the opposite is true for me. In fact, I’m actually more disgusted or afraid when it’s young, attractive, strong-looking men because I see them as greater threats (more likely to be able to overpower me, outrun me, etc.). When old men cat call I’m much less threatened and much less inclined to get angry because they don’t pose as much of a threat to me, frankly.

            Also, to make sure definitions are clear, here’s the definition of catcalling: the act of shouting harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening, or derisive comments at someone publicly.

            I’m glad you don’t feel threatened by tamer catcalls, because we all do have different stories and I think that’s really really lucky to be able to not find it threatening! I, personally, feel incredibly uncomfortable when men wolf whistle or cat-call no matter how tame it seems, because it says to me that they see me primarily as a sexual object. If he’s cat calling, he hasn’t taken time to say hello, introduce himself, get to know me as a person. And that’s why it’s inappropriate–they’re making a judgment based on my body alone, which makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and that they seem me as solely an object.

            And even if 9 out of 10 guys who catcall is completely just trying to give an innocent compliment, the reality is that you can’t know who the 1 out of 10 who has malicious thoughts are until after the actions have taken place. That’s why those “compliments,” even if they seem tame, are still scary. Because it signals, “This guy is a potential predator because he’s willing to yell out something about your body in public, what would he be willing to do if he got you alone?”

            Also (and Lindsey I know you agree with me here so this is more for the benefit of others reading this), “Hey gorgeous” is a very different cat call than “nice tits,” “come over here, baby” or even “suck me” which are ones I have commonly gotten living in downtown Ottawa (although the former also makes me quite uncomfortable).

      • K

        This may be completely unhelpful (feel free to delete), but with that last comment of his allowed to moderate, this came to mind.

        You have been working on a project for Company A. Several of your coworkers have congratulated you for all the work you have put into it. Now, you are out in a public setting, trying to enjoy your day, when someone from rival Company B starts staring you down. They are following you, and yelling at you “Hey! That’s a nice project there. I want to have yo project.” You have never met them. And they won’t leave you alone until you call the cops.

        There is no confusion that a fire in a fireplace is desirable, while someone throwing matches at trees to start a forest fire is not.

        Reply
  11. Arwen

    That guy turning and looking 7-8 times is abhorrent and i’m sure it made the woman sitting behind him very uncomfortable and extremely embarrassing for his wife! But like Sheila said create boundaries and don’t freak out on just the looking part in other situations. Even i enjoy looking at beautiful people. But it ends at just admiring God’s mighty work. Even God told us Rachel & Sarah were beautiful, Joseph and Saul were handsome. Noticing A-Okay lusting Not-Okay!

    Reply
    • TW

      Attention is pleasant if the person giving you attention is your version of attractive. However, being tamely catcalled (hey good looking) or whistled at or winked at, while it may come from an attractive person and, therefore, may inflate your ego- is still reducing you to an object. It can be awesome to be told you’re sexy in a safe situation by a stranger that is also sexy, that is hard to deny! However, that person- whether male or female- likes a part of your body, and most likely has no interest in your whole self in any regard. Being an object, or a sum of sexual parts- even for a man I think is also attractive- is still the incorrect way to be treated by another human being. While fear of sexual assault can enter into it, we need to change the way we think about this completely.
      It’s not whether we are male or female. It’s not whether sexual assault is possible in the situation or not. It’s not whether it pleasant to be desirable, we all want to be found desirable. It is not whether we want to be sexual fulfilled, almost all of us would like to be sexually fulfilled. It is not a question of what we do with people we are physically attracted to, there will always be physically attractive people.
      All people are eternal, God made, God died to redeemed, souls. Treating another human being as a consumable sex snack, and wishing the opposite sex would treat you in that same fashion, should fill you with an immense sadness and repentance. We are made with intrinsic worth and dignity. What a slap in the face to our God by actively cheapening yourself and others by reducing worth to attractive, sexual parts. Being worshiped, or wanting to be worshiped, sexually, is idolatry and will never satisfy you.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I totally agree. It’s the fact that we’re being objectified, too. I wrote about this a lot in some of my posts on the #metoo movement–the fact that in so many stories women worked so hard to be respected at work, and then their bosses just treated them like objects. It made me want to cry. It’s like we don’t matter at all.

        Reply
      • Arwen

        TW, i’m not really sure what you’re trying to say to me. I never said anywhere that i treat others as “a consumable sex snack” nor do i worship myself or others as sexual parts, what on earth. I simply said I like looking at beautiful people, and so do you, as does every human on planet earth. And i’ll not be shamed for it. I have two working eyes and there’s simply nothing wrong with looking and saying, he/she is handsome/beautiful. Let’s not swing to the other extreme like the Pharisees putting unnecessary yolk around peoples neck. If God himself can talk about people’s beauty, like blessing Job with daughters who were the most beautiful women on earth, why would God need to mention such a thing? Is He reducing those women to body parts. Nope. It just simply means the women were the most beautiful women on earth. Nothing more nothing less.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Based on context, I think that TW’s comment was likely directed towards the conversation as a whole, not your individual comment, Arwen. 🙂

          Reply
  12. Manon

    Not to flog a dead horse, Jason, but I thought I’d just weigh in. If you’ve followed Sheila for any length of time, you’ll recognize that sexuality represents one of the ultimate expressions of a relationship. That is mutual attraction. Two people committed to each other.
    Consider food; everyone eats, albeit different foods and various kinds. Enjoying a meal with your spouse is often a very intimate experience.
    Being force-fed the same meal by someone who terrifies you, would be traumatizing, to put it mildly. You’re comparing that to dinner.
    I would agree with Rebecca that your own perspective on sexuality is woefully incomplete; you are focusing completely on your own desires, not on learning how to see women in a Godly way. You need to grow, and repent.

    Reply
  13. Samantha

    Sheila, I totally understand your hatred for Every Man’s Battle. I read that book with my husband early on in our marriage and the totally disgusting gratuitous details and descriptions of situations and women who were lusted after was enough to make me want to have a mighty bonfire in the backyard just to burn that one book. Frankly, I think if the book is going to remain in print at all, if should be revised to take out those descriptions. But I really wish that book would just disappear off the face of the earth entirely. Having said that I really think you need to reevaluate your opinion of the “bouncing the eyes” strategy. I think you have a strong prejudice against it because it is talked about so much in that book and I think that prejudice has caused you to misunderstand what it actually is.

    Reply
  14. Samantha

    The extent of my husband’s issues with lust came to a head this March and since then my husband has actually begun the hard work of recovery for REAL. And to give some context for how bad it actually was, my husband literally cannot remember a time in his life when he didn’t sexualize women. He is rewiring and relearning and working to become disciplined in a way that he NEVER has before. It is hard work. We meet with a mentor once a week that is coaching my husband through the process of recovery and bouncing the eyes is part of that. A CRUCIAL part of it. Bouncing the eyes is not an act of fear. It is an act of self-discipline. It is actively making the opposite choice of the choice he would have made in the past. My husband was in the habit of looking at pretty much every woman sexually for at least 20 years. And here is where I want to really clarify what he is being instructed to do. He is NOT being instructed to go around bouncing his eyes off of every woman as though she is dangerous to him. He is not being told that he needs to go around for the rest of his life looking away any time he sees a woman. He is being instructed to make the conscious decision to look away from someone he would have objectified in the past.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      That is incredibly empowering for a man who used to feel like he was powerless to not look at every woman and certain parts of that woman. He is becoming aware of his ability to make the right choice and again, that is very empowering.
      Now, if he were just being told to bounce his eyes for the rest of his life that would be a major problem, but he is not. He is also learning to view women differently. So no, bouncing the eyes is not subjecting yourself to a lifelong game of visual pinball in order to remain sexually pure. It is merely one exercise in a grander workout plan. I don’t think it is helpful to suggest that a man or woman should just be able to change years and years of bad habits at the drop of a hat. Respecting the opposite sex and viewing them as a whole person valued by God is obviously the ultimate goal, but it doesn’t just happen instantly (or at least not very often unless there is divine intervention involved) and suggesting that is should is actually really discouraging and damaging. Spiritual growth does not work like that in general. It is very often slow and requires hard and tedious work. Yes, there are seasons where we seem to experience a lot of growth and it seems to happen quickly. But very often we are not even aware that we have grown at all until we are tested.

      Reply
  15. Samantha

    Again, I really want to stress that bouncing the eyes is not about fear of the opposite sex. It’s about becoming aware that there are good and healthy choices to be made. It’s about becoming aware that you can choose not to look or to look away even if you have already seen. Having said that though, I think you actually agree with the overall concept of bouncing the eyes even if you aren’t aware of it. You do agree that if you see an attractive person that it is ok to acknowledge it and then move on. In reality that IS bouncing the eyes. You see an attractive person, acknowledge it, and then look away. You don’t just keep staring because then it does usually lead to more developed thoughts about what you are seeing and that can lead to temptation and then to lust. I think you would agree that it would be weird and even unhealthy for a person to continue to stare at a random attractive person while claiming that they were just appreciating the beauty a little bit longer. If you are interacting with that person you will obviously have to continue to look at them because moving your eyes around the room while you are talking to them would just be really unsettling and weird. I don’t think I have ever heard that being suggested by the way.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      Think of it this way. Say there is a very attractive man who goes to your church. You acknowledge that he is handsome and that is ok. But do you allow yourself to look at that man as long as you feel like it when you are not interacting with him face to face or listening to him speak? No. Why not? Because it is unhealthy and totally unnecessary to linger on him just for the sake of looking at him. You may see him in passing at church, but you see him and move on. And you don’t go out of your way to see him on purpose. You bounce your eyes. So here is the reality of my entire point. We all bounce our eyes. All the time. We just don’t concentrate on it in the same way that people who are recovering from sexual habits and addictions need to. They are training themselves to do what those of us don’t struggle with that particular sin naturally do. They need to do more reps of that workout because they have weak or literally have no muscles in that area. And in fact, their muscles of always looking are way over developed. Those of us who don’t struggle in that area don’t needlessly linger on people just because they happen to be attractive. We see and move on. That is what actively focusing on bouncing the eyes leads to. Pair that with learning to view members of the opposite sex as a whole person and you have a winner. You can’t just throw bouncing the eyes out because you view it as the lesser of the two. Respect and self-control need to be working in tandem.

      Reply
      • Bumblebee

        Samantha, do you believe that there are only two options available when a person sees someone attractive? Deliberately stare, or deliberately look away?

        Reply
        • Samantha

          Short answer: When you are single, no. When you are married, yes. A single person can continue to look at that person of the opposite sex and appreciate them further even without it turning into lust or objectification. A single person is not bound to anyone and is free to look and appreciate in a pure way. Married people are bound in a covenant to another person. You have a member of the opposite sex who belongs to you and deserves your undivided attention in that area. I think it’s important to point out that I’m talking about encountering random people in public. No interaction being involved. So really what other options do you have when encountering attractive people in public like this? You either continue to look at that random attractive stranger or decide that while they may be attractive their looks aren’t worth giving away the attention and appreciation that belongs to your spouse.

          Reply
          • Bumblebee

            Ok. I totally agree that if you are in relationship it would be cheating to check out someone other than your significant other. But I wasn’t asking about what one should do. I was asking about literal possibilities. I got the impression that the possibility of naturally looking away wasn’t taken into consideration when writing your posts (or it got lost in the jumble).

            I think it’s possible to just naturally look away because one doesn’t even become fixated on the attractive person in the first place. Like you’re at the supermarket and you notice someone who looks good but then just go back to your grocery shopping.

          • Bumblebee

            By the way, I appreciate you taking the time to help me understand your viewpoint. These comments were obviously not directed at me, so it’s nice that you took the time to respond. Reading them helped me look at the issue from a new perspective and I’m glad you wrote them.

        • Samantha

          I appreciate you saying that, Bumblebee. I was focusing a lot on the intentional choices we all make. I have to admit, I do believe that even when we naturally look away we are intentionally making a choice even if it seems natural or automatic. Or to put it another way, I think naturally looking away from an attractive member of the opposite sex stems from a series of intentional choices to simply view other people as people whether they happen to be attractive or not. It becomes a mindset that leads to actions that seem automatic and natural, but really come from consistent intentionality to think about and view things in a certain way. So I really do agree with you. Naturally looking away is an option. For me it is very natural and automatic to look away from other attractive men because I deliberately place my husband above other men. To me my husband is the most attractive man in the world.

          Thanks for your response, Bumblebee. It really made me think more deeply.

          Reply
  16. Samantha

    Now, I will say this. It is just plain wise for EVERYONE to ALWAYS look away from and avoid people who are dressed for sexual attention, sexualized images and media, and anything that is blatantly sexual or sexualized. I don’t think it is healthy for anyone to assume that they are immune to sexual temptation or sin. I think it has to go beyond just the natural bouncing of the eyes that I spoke of in my previous comment. I think we all need to flee from those things as though our lives depend upon it. For example, I don’t think it is ever healthy or wise for a man to get to a point in his life where he says, “I can go and shop at Victoria’s Secret for my wife or with my wife because I am too strong to be tempted to look at the posters in there.” That would just be plain foolish. It is needlessly inviting temptation where it can and should be avoided. It is not necessary for a man to put himself in that situation. The same can be said about watching movies with sexual content. “I can watch this movie because I will not be tempted to look at the nude woman on the screen.” If a man is walking through a store and sees a woman who is obviously dressed for sexual attention, he should make a point to look away immediately out of respect for himself and for that woman who is obviously no respecting herself. The really sad thing is that there are women who dress like that just about everywhere these days. Think about it this way. If a woman is walking across a parking lot and her dress is blown up by a gust of wind, what would you hope the men around her would do? You would hope that, out of respect, they would look away quickly and not steal a quick glance at her undergarments “just to appreciate their beauty”. Really that’s what men should be doing for women who don’t dress themselves decently or respectfully. They should be looking away immediately out of respect for the woman, themselves, and God. Women should be doing that for men who seem to be trying to get sexual attention as well.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      And just to give some weight to what I said about women bouncing their eyes as well, I do it every Sunday when my husband and I almost always see shirtless men running on our way to church. I see them from a distance and I immediately look away. I bounce my eyes. Am I afraid that I will objectify them if I look at them? No not really, but why would I want to look at some random sweaty shirtless guy when I have a handsome man sitting next to me in the car? I don’t want to see that other guy’s naked torso AT ALL. Plus, for all I know he is watching as cars pass by to see if any women are looking at him to boost his ego. Why give that guy the satisfaction of seeing a woman let alone a married women ogling him?

      Reply
    • Lisa

      I disagree completely. I can look at a young, fit man running without his shirt on and see him as a person. I work in the fitness industry and I work with very physically fit, tightly clothed people every single day. They are people. Many of my colleagues are men and have women as clients, too. It’s not an issue at all when you consider people as people, not objects for others to use for their own gratification.

      My husband absolutely can and does shop for lingerie, underwear, swimsuits, etc. for me without lusting after the models, posters, etc.

      Reply
  17. Samantha

    I apologize for the lengthy and broken up comment/book. I have just noticed for a long time that you seem to have a really harsh opinion of something that you seem to actually agree with. I think your loathing for Every Man’s Battle (which I totally understand) has caused you to loathe something that is actually a part of everyday life for those of us who don’t struggle with sexual sin. Like I said in my comments, obviously a person who has struggled with sexual integrity for a significant amount of time needs to focus on it a lot more and to a more dramatic extent, but in reality they are just building a skill the rest of us already have and don’t really need to think about. Not continuing to stare needlessly at a random person’s physical appearance IS a part of respecting them and viewing them as a whole person.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      It’s my job to observe people’s bodies as they exercise. I have to look really intently at their joints, posture, gait, etc. It’s my job. Some of my clients are men and they are incredibly fit. I’m a professional. I can and do stare and I can and do treat them with the respect that is due to all human beings. I am not an animal with unmanageable impulses. Neither are my male colleagues. For those of us who work in the fitness industry or the medical field, this idea that you just have to look away is preposterous. We are not a special breed of human that somehow can function in impossible circumstances. We are here to help our clients or patients. Period. You can look at a beautiful human being and not sin. I do it every day.

      Frankly, if what you wrote was true I’d be so upset every time I went to the doctor or every time I went to work because of the clothing I need to wear for my job. I practically live in spandex. But I’m a person and that’s how I’m treated. My male comedies l colleagues & clients don’t avoid looking at me, nor do they leer at me.

      Reply
  18. Jessica

    A story from my dating years came to mind as I read through the post and comments. My husband and I met, dated, and were engaged as high schoolers. The summer of our engagement was spent at various youth camps and on mission trips. At one of these camps, I had gone to the girls’ dorm to dress for the evening service. Our routine was that he would wait for me at the bottom of the hill and escort me to service. This was an opportunity for me to take some special effort with my hair and clothes because I knew he would be watching me descend the hill toward him. This particular evening, as I made my way toward him, I felt especially pretty in a flowing skirt and delicate top. What I did not know was that the guy standing with my fiancé was also noticing me. I was far enough away that he could not make out my identity. All he saw was a young woman’s body. When he made an appreciative comment, my fiancé wasn’t pleased and let him know. Of course, my fiancé was also noticing my body, as any normal young man would. The difference here is that he didn’t just identify me as an attractive female body. Besides the fact that ours was a serious committed relationship, he knew me. I was more than JUST a repository for his sexual desires. He saw the whole me walking down that hill toward him. He saw our future. He saw value far beyond himself. The guy standing beside him ONLY saw me as a sexual object. I think the point here is not that we (men and women included) shouldn’t notice an attractive member of the opposite sex. The point is that we should intentionally work towards creating habits of thinking that elevate each human, regardless of sex, physical condition, or social position, to the status of beloved, created child of God. It’s very hard to objectify someone when regarding them through that lens.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, exactly. It’s seeing the whole person vs. seeing only the body. It’s such a big difference!

      Reply
  19. Tory

    If the Jason guy is still reading: this is why it’s offensive/scary, and not flattering, to have a guy cat-call you — it’s because we know he might act on it. So if I’m walking down the street and a stranger yells “nice @$$”, I might yell back “go screw yourself” but inside I’m thinking, “what if he kills me???”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly!

      Reply
  20. Csab

    Lust means strong sexual desire for a woman.

    Porn addicts don’t want to have sex with girls at all, so I don’t think it’s lust.

    It’s voyeurism, which is closer to impotence than to infidelity. Porn addicts prefer porn over sex. Watching instead of doing.

    Wifes tend to think, that their husbands want sex with those girls, but actually not.

    It’s like cleptomania. The act is more exciting than the stolen thing. Catching something inappropriate, this is what they want. Not sex.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Lust is not the same as sexual desire.

      Reply
  21. Anne

    Hi Sheila,

    I dont know if you remember me, you answered some of my questions on your other article, Noticing is Not Lusting! After reading this article I actually had another question and I was hoping maybe you could help answer it.

    After reading, I am confused as to what exactly ogling is. I looked up the definition and it says its looking lecherously, which means looking with excessive or offensive sexual desire, and obviously looking at someone with sexual desire for them or their body is lusting. Which is very much a sin.

    I was wondering then is ogling always sexual in nature? For example can I go to the beach and look at a man it not be ogling? Even if I look for a prolonged period of time for whatever reason, if there is no sexual intent behind the look, would that still be ogling? If the intent of my look is not one that is sexual or crude and it never becomes sexual is that still wrong? What happens if I look at a man (without sexual desire) I find attractive am I ogling him? What if you did look at his body but did so without lusting? Or do you just mean if you go the beach and not just look at people but purposefully stare at them with sexual intent, then that would be ogling. For example, I can look at a man at the park for a prolonged period of time but the purpose of my look is not sexual so would that not apply to the beach? I dont mean to ask this because as a way to look at men and “enjoy” the view and try to get away with it.

    You know how sometimes when you are in a public place you look at everyone around you, sometimes you just glance and sometimes you look for a longer period of time. I think most people do this and when I do I dont do it in a sexual manner. Is that still wrong? Is that ogling? If looking at men is fine as long as its not sexual, is it different on a beach? I know more skin is showing but I wouldn’t think its different however maybe I am wrong. I feel so stumped on sexual issues like this and I really dont want to be sinning.

    Reply
  22. Josh

    Sheilla, i would like to know

    Is it wrong or sin a woman wear upskirts, small bikinis or short shorts?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Josh, I’ve written several posts about how women can decide what to wear: Here and here. I give women guidelines of how to think about how they dress, and if they think that way, I doubt that they would wear those things. I will not give a list of what people can or can’t wear, though, because that is not biblical. That is rules-based.

      However, may I suggest that you’re asking the wrong question? You’re a man, Josh, if your nomiker is anything to go by. Your concern should not be what women are wearing. Your concern should be how men can keep their hearts pure. Even if Christian women do not wear those things, other women will. You will not be able to get away from them. So the issue is not what women wear. The issue is your heart. The more men focus on what women should or shouldn’t be wearing, the more men will make their own lust problems worse.

      Reply
  23. Allison

    “Noticing a beautiful woman IS lusting” and you are poisoning the minds of these wives who just have to sit and take it. ALL people, men and women, are visual creatures. I, myself, am extremely visual and love sex and hot men. I CHOOSE not to look at other men out of RESPECT for my husband and if I see a man, I CHOOSE not to assess. To assess is to make a judgment. An example: if the person IS NOT attractive, would I say this to their face? In the same right, it’s inappropriate to assess in a “supposed positive” way. Our society has said men are wired a certain way and just looking it ok, but when you look, you go back to the thought of something you really liked looking at and remember it. That is lust. Finding someone attractive, is to desire them. That’s what attraction means. SO, stop poisoning these poor minds and speak the truth. God told us to RUN immediately from sexual sin. If you’re not a believer, it comes down to respect only (not just what morals you are to live by, biblically speaking). If I turned around and checked out men all the time, even once, my husband would be crushed. It comes down to CHOICE always. Yes, you may need to relearn, but it is still a decision and if you love your spouse, they should have your eyes only.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      But Allison, women notice attractive men too! And then they choose not to anything about it. We are designed to notice beauty. It just is. Multiple, multiple studies have shown that. But they have also shown that we don’t have to do anything with that information. And it isn’t just men–women do it too. The problem is that men fixate on that once they notice. But noticing is not the same as choice.

      Reply

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