We are Somebody, not Something
I've taken a few weeks to think and pray about the subject of objectification, and I've noticed how easy it is to de-humanize a person, to treat them like a "something" instead of a "somebody." Think about it:
- A person cuts in front of you on the highway, or they are driving way too slow when you're late. What happens in our minds? They become an obnoxious driver or an obstruction, until we pass them and realize we know them. We duck and hide because they've become a person again.
- The guy or girl helping us on the phone or in a store is a person until they don't treat us well or give us what we want. What happens when they do us wrong? They become "that rude employee" and you feel the need to set things straight!
- They are your loyal follower on social media until they say something that offends you. Once you've been hurt, that person behind the profile becomes a target for you to defend yourself, or correct their wrong thinking.
I wouldn't be able to type such exact scenarios if I didn't struggle with objectifying people myself. I've found, in the moment, it's easier make someone a something, to de-humanize them when we're offended than to look over an offense and make things right. But habitual objectification of people will end up damaging our ability to have deep, meaningful friendships. We don't want this! So, let's learn from Luke 18:9-14:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: 'God I thank you that I'm not like other people- greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector...' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his chest and saying, 'God have mercy on me, a sinner!' I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
This Pharisee doesn't know it, but he is making everyone around him an object because he is so worried and concerned for himself. In order to exalt himself, he is de-humanizing everyone else, labeling them by their sin instead of understanding that they are sinners who need grace. He says, "Thank you I am not like other people- greedy, unrighteousness, adulterers." It's easier to label someone as "greedy," than to tell ourselves that they are a person seeking comfort in money. It is easier to label someone as "unrighteous," than to tell ourselves they have no motivation to live righteously because they do not know God. It's easier to label someone an "adulterer," than to see them as someone seeking and searching for belonging in the wrong place.
When we label people by their sin, we take away their humanity. But every person who exists, or has ever existed, is God's creation made in His image. Objectification is evil and offensive because we turn someone God has created into an object. If we were to truly examine our hearts, I believe we would see that we are all objectifiers like the Pharisee above. Why do we do it? Because when we're feeling frustrated, insecure or insufficient it is tempting to take someone else out, to cut them down...in order to lift our own selves up.
So how do we, as Christ followers, fight this tendency in our lives?
- Seek Humility: Remind yourself that the person who offended you is a child of God; a sinner, not a sin.
- Search Inside: Stop. Ask yourself why you are offended. Ask God if you have sin in your own heart, and repent.
- Let go of the Label: Release that person from your judgement in prayer.
When we objectify each other, we are damaging the body of Christ. We need each other to bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, we NEED to value and encourage one another. Lord, help us to see you don't create objects, but people. Amen.
© 2018 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.