Thursday, May 12, 2016
Start Calling Your Wife Hot
I was recently involved in a Facebook conversation with several Christians (including pastors) on the subject of whether or not it is appropriate to refer to your wife as "hot" to other people. A Christian blogger had recently written a post decrying the practice, even suggesting that to do so was "objectifying her". I do want to point out that the blog post, as well as my conversation with these men, was edifying, kind, and gracious.
But I was concerned by what I read. Not concerned in the sense that anyone was denying the faith or advocating sin, but I was concerned by what I see as an over-reaction to a real problem, which in fact leads to an equally bad problem.
So what's the problem? Frankly, we do live in a cultural context that sexually objectifies women. And quite honestly, the word "hot" is almost always used in a sexualized way. As an experiment, I typed the word "hot" into Google image search. Not "hot women" or "hot babe" or "hot girl"...just "hot". I had expected to see pictures of flames or a stove top as well as pictures of beautiful women. Though I didn't scroll down, I was surprised that every single picture was of a gorgeous model.
"Hot" is a sexual word.
And because of that connotation, many in the Facebook conversation were agreeing with the blogger that Christian men should never use that word about their wives. To be clear, most of the husbands in the conversation believed it was OK to tell our wives privately that she is 'smok'n hot', but maintained it was inappropriate to do so in front of others.
So we've seen the problem, and now we've seen the cure...or rather the over-reaction. Which leads to an equally great problem.
As a pastor and professional counselor I've counseled many married couples. Many were considering divorce, others coping with the death of a child, and still others dealing with a myriad of issues from financial stress, to parenting disagreements, to in-law struggles. But very rarely are any of these issues at the center of the marriage's difficulties. At the center of most of those marriages, I've discovered, lies an intimacy problem. And quite often, a root cause of that problem is the husband's failure to think and speak of his wife in the same manner we see in Song of Songs.
In that biblical book, the man is obviously head over heels in love with his bride. Whereas elsewhere Solomon focused on the character and intelligence of an excellent wife (Proverbs 31), in Song of Songs the focus is on her physical beauty. The entire Song is a living out of Proverbs 5:18b-19 ("Rejoice in the wife of your youth; A loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.").
In chapter 4, the most "heated" description of her beauty, includes this statement: "You've captivated my heart, my sister and my bride, you've captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes" (v.9). Verse 11 says "your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue." It only heats up from there.
In light of the graphic nature of Song of Songs, referring to your wife as "hot" seems rather tame. Now, it's very possible your wife doesn't like that term. One woman in the Facebook conversation recalled the catcalls she experienced from other men, who often referred to her as 'hot' and causing her to dislike the term. Fair enough, and the Christian husband must be sensitive. The whole goal here is to speak to your wife, and about your wife, in such a way as communicates that your eyes are only for her. Your job as a Christian husband is to find the right language to do that.
The argument has been made that the Song of Songs only describes how we speak to our wives, and that it is wrong to speak about her that way. I think that argument forgets that is exactly what Solomon is doing. The language of the Song is to her, but the song was sung publicly, and put in print for all to see. Solomon had no problem sharing with other men how gorgeous he thought his wife was. His goal wasn't to get other men to fantasize about his wife, but rather to teach them to have eyes and a heart only for their own wife (Prov 5:18-19).
Over the years my wife and I have counseled many Christian women who long for the eyes and hearts of their husbands. I remember one particular woman lamenting to my wife and I how she used to buy dresses and try different hair styles all in an attempt just to get him to want to hold her hand in public. After several years of trying to catch his eye, she finally had given up. At she spoke, we saw a window into a bruised and wounded soul.
But is there a danger here? If a Christian man begins to publicly say his wife is hot won't this be awkward for other men? I don't see why. I expect every man to insist that his wife is the most beautiful woman on the planet. I generally don't get mad when a new parent tells me they have the most beautiful baby. I simply rejoice with them. They are telling me what they see...what they are supposed to see...what they must see. And if they don't see that, something is clearly wrong.
But won't this objectify our wives? There are probably Christian men who are doing that, but it certainly isn't through this. I recall one young 20-something who had a habit of bragging about how good his wife was in bed. I had heard rumors that he spoke this way and eventually had the unpleasant experience of hearing it in person. I listened as he spoke, trying to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding him. There was no mention of how enraptured he was with her beauty, or intelligence, or character. He didn't describe his love for her, or even his attraction to her. He never said she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. His words were all about how she performed in bed. After a point I interrupted with a stern rebuke. Not only did I not want to hear any more, I cautioned this young man that he needed a fundamental shift in the way he viewed his wife. He was destroying his marriage, even if he was enjoying the sex. She had ceased to be an object of his love and had become simply an object.
This isn't what Solomon is doing. True, he doesn't shy away from discussing the wonders of sexual intimacy. Yet nowhere in this Song is the focus on his gratification. The focus is on her beauty and the joy he experiences by being in her presence.
Christian husbands, live and speak in such a way that your wife knows you only have eyes for her. Share that with the world. Make it a truth that is beyond doubt in anyone's mind. To your eyes, your wife is beautiful. She is stunning. She is 'hot', if that term is meaningful to her. Let the world know you believe it. Frankly, our world needs to see and hear about the kind of intimacy-filled, sexually-pleasing, affection-giving, and mutually-uplifting eyes-only-for-each-other kind of marriages the Bible calls us to.