Men, the Women in Porn Bear God’s Image

A man once told me about a bachelor party he attended. This bachelor party wasn’t like mine, where we shot paintballs at each other and played a friendly game of Texas Hold’em.

No, the bachelor party this man told me about was a “real” bachelor party. The father of the groom hired a woman to take her clothes off and dance.

The man who told me the story said that when he first found out about the stripper, he was going to leave before she got there; he didn’t want to be a part of it. When she arrived, however, he didn’t leave. He stuck around—not because she was gorgeous but because, in his words, “she was so ugly.” The man told me he stayed to watch the other men make fun of her.

When I heard this story, I didn’t know whether to shake my fists and scream, No! That’s not right! or to plant my palms on my cheeks and crumble to the floor and cry.

Perhaps I should have done both.

TARNISHED BUT NOT ERADICATED

In the first two chapters of Genesis, before sin entered the world, God created male and female in his own likeness and image (1:26–27) and placed Adam and Eve in the perfection of Eden to love, worship, and represent him to the world, that is, to bear his image.

But we know what happens next. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve disobey God and sin enters the world. Yet the image of God in them isn’t destroyed. It’s tarnished but not eradicated. We see this from passages such as Genesis 5:1 and 9:6, which speak of people made in God’s image even after the fall.

In the New Testament, James encourages us to tame our tongues because this directly relates to our valuing the likeness of God in others: “With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (3:9).

Therefore, regardless of ability to contribute productively to society, and regardless of whether a person is a Christian or not, regardless of one’s level of depravity, every human has dignity and worth. We have this because our Creator bestowed it upon us, and we are not to take it away.

FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE

One of the many travesties of pornography is the dehumanization of women. Lust makes real women—sisters and daughters and mothers who bear God’s image—into flesh for consumption, pixels for pleasure. It’s a crime against humanity and the God who lovingly created us.

She’s been fearfully and wonderfully made, but not so you can ogle her curves.

We often assume the consumption of pornography is a meal eaten alone. That’s never true. That woman who has been turned into pixels on your screen is a real woman whose Creator knows the hairs of her head and the number of her days. She’s been fearfully and wonderfully made, but not so you can ogle her curves.

A few years ago pastor and author John Piper wrote an article about the television show Game of Thrones, a show infamous for its exceedingly graphic and violent nudity. In the article Piper mentioned a dozen questions Christians need to consider before watching the show (and others like it). Below are two of the relevant questions for the discussion we’re having here:

Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role? Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because on the one hand they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.

Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked? Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.

Men, if you want to successfully struggle against pornography, you need to wake up to these realities. You need to see women not as pornography makes them but as God made them and as he sees them. You need to see them as fellow image bearers.

LORD, GIVE US YOUR EYES

In Luke’s gospel we repeatedly see the dignity and honor Jesus showed women. In Luke 7 Jesus and the religious leaders were interrupted by a sinful woman who washed “his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment” (v. 38).

Jesus, after teaching about forgiveness, asked one of the religious leaders, the owner of the home, “Do you see this woman?” (v. 44). Oh, this Pharisee saw the woman all right. But did he really see her? Did he see her the way God sees her? Jesus certainly did.

Pastor and author Zack Eswine writes,

I wonder what it must have been like for her. There is no lust in [Jesus’s] eyes, no use of her behind his smile, no flirtatious familiarity or flattery in his tone. Her given beauty was noticed and cherished; her heart and mind were understood and known. Had she ever been looked at by a man like this? Had the men standing there ever known that they too could learn by grace to look at a woman in this way? (The Imperfect Pastor, 50)

Perhaps you, like the men standing there, have forgotten or never learned how to look at women properly, as real image bearers of God. However, by God’s grace, you can. We must.


This article has been adapted from Benjamin Vrbicek’s book Struggle Against Porn: 29 Diagnostic Tests for Your Head and Heart.

Benjamin Vrbicek is a teaching pastor at Community EFC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Brooke, have six children. He earned an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary. Benjamin blogs regularly at Fan and Flame and is the author of Don’t Just Send a ResumeStruggle Against Porn, and the coauthor of Enduring Grace. You can follow him on Twitter.