Body Ownership

During the final months of 2017 while scrolling through Facebook, the frequency of my newsfeed items being related to sexual assault, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, etc. was of note. As previously mentioned, this frequency also forced me to engage and grapple with my own story involving this topic in new ways.

One friend’s status update shared a quote from a Chicago Tribune column titled: ‘Why do women get all attractive if they don’t want to be harassed? Glad you asked’. I re-shared the column and a partial quote on my own Facebook account and then began drafting a new blog series. Sharing about such a weighty topic requires time, caution, and thoughtful reflection. I’m finally ready to begin sharing this series. Please find below an excerpt from Ms. Stevens’ column and a few thoughts of my own.

– – –

“We detach women’s bodies from women’s humanity so frequently and so seamlessly that we have to work backward to realign them. Wait, she’s a human first, remember?

We don’t remember. We, as a culture, think women’s bodies are ours for the taking.

“Why do women try to make themselves more attractive?”

I wonder why we understand ownership so much better when we’re talking about a person’s prized possessions than when we’re talking about a woman’s body.

I’ve never once heard a man explain away a burglary by questioning why a homeowner bothered taking such good care of his house if not to entice others to break in.

Lawn mowed just so. Solid oak front door. Three-car garage. Why do you make your house so attractive if you don’t want someone to break in and start taking stuff?

I’ve never once heard a man explain away a carjacking by questioning why a driver bothered driving such a nice car.

Why are you driving a Lexus if you don’t want someone to take it from you? You even keep it all shiny and new-looking. You don’t think that sends some kind of message?

Apples and oranges, you might be thinking. No one ever wants their house broken into. No one ever wants their car stolen. Sex is different.

But it’s really not. When I trust you, I will invite you into my house. I might even give you something to take home. When I’m ready, I will let you drive my Lexus. (I drive a 2008 Honda, actually.) They’re mine (again, hypothetically speaking — my house isn’t that fancy either), but I’m happy to share them with the right person.

National Public Radio’s news chief, Michal Oreskes, resigned Wednesday following accusations that as an editor at the New York Times, he suddenly kissed two women while they were discussing job prospects with him.

Imagine he had leaned over and ripped their iPhones out of their hands and pocketed them. He’d be a thief – no gray area.

We’re not quite there yet with harassment and assault. We’re still stuck in the gray area. We’re not quite ready to consider a woman’s body her possession and her possession alone.”

– – –

The author offers incredibly helpful and thought-provoking illustrations and yes, a woman’s body is her possession, but if she is in Christ, it is not her possession alone.

Before you check out, I know that sentiment and the following scripture I will share may often be used to go the direction of “slut shaming” or propping up the mentality that this author is attempting to refute; that a woman is responsible for the actions taken against her. Trust me, I do not intend to go that way.

I cannot take full credit for where I will go from here as it was my boyfriend who kindly reminded me of what 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says about body ownership, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

I’m so grateful for his insight and willingness to talk through weighty topics with me. His reminder was not one negating the truth of the statement that a woman’s body is her possession alone, but was made to remind me where our bodily ownership truly lies when we are in Christ. And what a weightier responsibility that brings when we think that the King of Kings owns any body with which we might interact regardless of that person’s submission to his ownership. I hope that Biblical truth further drives the illustration home and leads us to consider how we might treat one another with more reverence and care than we treat any prized material possession we ever own.

I will unpack 1 Corinthians 6 more fully and share more of my story of God’s redemptive grace, but in the meantime, I hope you will sit with and examine the illustrations offered and Paul’s truth about our bodies as followers of Christ. As we enter a new year, may these thoughts encourage you to consider how you view your own body and how you talk about body ownership with those around you.

Happy New Year!


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