So I was watching an episode of the report and I noticed Colbert was interviewing Leonard Nemoy. Now I like old Spock, particularly because his jarred head has made so many cameos on one of the best shows ever created. Nonetheless, this interview was not to discuss Trekkies or the return of Futurama, but rather Mr. Nemoy’s latest delving into photography, entitled “The Full Body Project.” (I have not provided a link here because the main page includes images of nude women, just so you’re warned before you go looking for it. However, if you google “Leonard Nemoy” and “Colbert” you will find links to the interview, which censors the exposure.)
The whole idea is that Leonard believes our Western/European concept of female beauty is unrealistic. He states that “every person is beautiful” and this leads him to the most natural conclusion: that he take nude photos of larger women, to put them in the same context where we would usually find the women who fit the usual “model” stereotype.
On the surface this seems like a noble cause, but I think this is an opportune time for some reflection on the nature of sexuality. Nemoy is attacking a symptom of a much larger problem. The fact that very lean women with large busts and thin waists are almost exclusively featured in societal depictions of beauty is a problem, yes. In and of itself, this narrows the body types that a man is likely to find attractive at first glance. This is a shame, because there are many highly attractive women who do not fit the stereotype. Men are missing out on meaningful relationships with these women, and these women may be missing out on meaningful relationships themselves. Equally as unfortunate is that those girls and women who do happen to fall into the stereotype are missing out on meaningful relationships as well. Many are convinced that unless they continue to fit the mold, they have no value. Furthermore, they’re caused to wonder if their relationships are indeed meaningful, or whether they are simply based on aesthetics.
As unfortunate as these side effects may be, the root problem is much more serious. This problem, if rectified, would fix the other issues. Our society is inundated with sexual imagery. I firmly believe this is an area in which Satan and those who support him have gained a serious foothold. It is nearly inescapable.
I remember a time when I was young, maybe around 8. At that time, if I saw a woman in a bikini on TV, I was really embarrassed. I would look away, ashamed. Why is that? Genesis 2 describes the creation of Adam and Eve, and gives us an idea:
Genesis 2:25 “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Oh wait, that doesn’t help at all! It says that the initial plan was for both of them to be naked together, and God had no problem with that situation. Maybe we should read a bit more. In the first few verses of Genesis 3, the serpent arrives to tempt Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree “of the knowledge of Good and Evil”. God had commanded them not to eat of this tree, but here we see the decision:
Genesis 3:6-11 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
So once Adam and Eve realized they were naked, they decided to cover up. Not that there was a reason when they were by themselves. They were married! But, since there are talking serpents, and even God in the habit of walking around the garden, they feel the need to cover their shame.
For those of us who get to the point of knowing right from wrong, we understand the desire for modesty. Well I’m no longer 8 years old, and now when I see a bikini-clad woman on TV, I can honestly say the immediate feeling is no longer embarrassment. My initial reaction now is lust. Why is that? Why has my reaction changed so much? Some would say that puberty gives us an answer. I now have the desire for sexual gratification, whereas my 8 year old body did not. Of course this is part of the explanation, but not all. As an 8 year old, I’d not seen many images of nude or semi-nude women. It was not on TV constantly. The internet was not ubiquitous at that point. Even the music industry was not so blatantly sexual as it is now. Simply put, when I saw the scantily clad woman as an 8 year old, she was still a person. Now, she is just a means to an end. She is no more a woman than the image of the Big Mac that McDonald’s wants to sell me. Both are presented as the fulfillment of a desire, or a need of sorts. People are treated in this manner in some cultures today, and our own culture even participated in this long ago. The institution is called slavery, I believe. You can bet that Satan desires to make slaves of us all, and this method is particularly effective.
I’m now 26 years old. I’ve been raised by good parents and been taught Christian values. I want to spend my life being a minister. I am a student of the Bible, and I consider myself a disciple of Jesus Christ. I honestly want to flee from sexual temptation, both with other people and when I am alone. So it should be easy for me to escape, right?
No! It’s horribly difficult. It is everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I can’t even log on to facebook without an ad that features some seductive image of a young woman showing off her body to me. This of course, is not a real woman anymore. It is an image designed to arouse my desires and connect those desires to whatever the ad is trying to sell. Women, you may not get this. The female body is not nearly as visually wired as the male. Let me tell you that this one single image is more than enough to keep me struggling for at least 30 minutes. After all, if I wanted, I could easily find enough images to satisfy my desires elsewhere on the internet. It takes serious prayer and planning to avoid this, and guess what? I don’t always succeed. So if I, a disciple of Christ with full access to the armor of God, have such a hard time resisting this, what can we expect from those who do not even see it as a moral wrong? Those who are not followers, who have not been raised with the right values, and who do not know Christ can not even be expected to fight. Slavery.
And now we come back to Mr. Nemoy. He said that he felt his photography book was appropriate in the living room of any family in America, and get this, especially for those with young girls. He believes our young girls need to see large women in a sexual (nude or close to it) scenario so that they will know that being large is sexy. The assumption is that they are going to see women in sexual scenarios no matter what, and they need to know that all body types are okay. Do you see the flaw in that assumption? “Parents, there’s no point in trying to shield your children from exposure to sexual imagery. You can’t. Why would you want to anyway? Sex is natural.” Sad, indeed.
I don’t know the answer to this scenario. We are so outnumbered and so many Christians are in full submission already. Men learn early that giving in is easy and gratifying. Women learn early to dress in certain ways or be left out. Those of you who have children already, I urge you to consider these thoughts when you choose what your children will see. For those who have not, plan with your husband or wife how you will deal with this ever-increasing invasion. As for me, please pray that God will continue to provide escape for me (and every other Christian man) in the daily temptation we face.