It is no coincidence that we are hearing about the #metoo movement at the same time we are dealing with another school shooting. It isn’t a coincidence because the root is the same – objectification. The same way you touch a person inappropriately is the same way you shoot a person with ease – objectification. Once you turn a human being into an object that person is to be used rather than to be loved. We have fed a culture of objectification for decades. Hollywood glorifies it and our parents and churches have abdicated their roles leaving kids to fend for themselves and communities without the Gospel. We are reaping what we have sown.
The great irony in this is that the objectification even becomes part of proposed solutions. When we leverage these events and movements for our political gain and agenda we further the objectification – the victims becomes tools to be used for political power plays. Same song, second verse. The problem continues on. Once anyone starts to think they finally found the moment to advance themselves they too are objectifying in the worst sort of way – using victims for selfish gain…no matter what political party you are a part of.
What is the solution? Is it better mental health coverage? Is it better screening? More laws? Enforcing the laws on the books? We might find a path through some of those things but three things happen if we aren’t careful. The first is that many of the solutions “distance” us from the problem. Too many of the solutions embrace the classic move of hoping Washington will solve it for us but they can’t. It is hoping Washington will do what the church should have been doing – changing hearts. You cannot legislate the heart but Jesus can change the heart. The second thing that can happen is we fail to recognize our role in both the problem and the solution. As long as we think it is someone else’s problem we fail to see the ways we participate in it. If you are addicted to pornography you have bought the culture of objectification, for instance. But few people make the connection that the underlying issue between these things is all the same. Third we deal with symptoms rather than the underlying problem, which is the heart. Until we address the heart you can pass all the laws you want. People will just keep breaking the rules. The Gospel is the greatest criminal preventative measure the world has ever known.
What is the solution? The solution is the Gospel. I know that can sound trite but imagine if Christians actually converted non-believers. Sexual abuse and mass shootings are mutually exclusive to following Jesus. If we can instill in our world the Judeo-Christian idea of the image of God being embedded in the lives of others we re-humanize rather than de-humanize. We begin re-distinguishing between objects (to be used) and people (to be loved). It is harder to shoot a person to be loved than an object to be used. The church needs to get back to doing its job if this is ever going to change. Unfortunately I believe we, Christians, have lost our will to impact the world as we were called to do it. We are all paying for our being asleep at the wheel. Hopefully we can reclaim that. If we can we should see a revival in our culture of valuing things appropriately. Now is the time for Christians to step forward with meaningful solutions and one place to start is to stop objectifying each other when we talk about these issues. If that is too hard for us to do we are already doomed.