My husband is a very visual/artistic man and says that for him, for the vast majority of the time, looking at beautiful women in bikinis, lingerie, etc is the same as looking at a beautiful car or art picture. He enjoys it for it’s beauty and it has nothing to do with his love or desire for me, nor does he use it for sexual fulfillment.
As I step out to tackle this issue, I am fully aware that there are as many opinions on this matter as there are variables to consider in determining what is right. And honestly I believe that this is one of those topics where there is not one right answer for everyone. We all have different weaknesses and areas where we are more prone to sin, and I believe that two people could be looking at the same thing and one of them could be sinning while the other is not. Your heart before God is between you and Him, and I won’t attempt to determine for anyone whether or not admiring a beautiful person crosses over into lust. What I want to do is create a space to consider what we should be aware of with this issue.
To begin with we need to keep in mind that although there is much grey in this issue, there is no grey in the fact that God is clear that lust is sinful. For more information on this you can read our article on lust, but suffice it to say that if you are unable to look at beautiful people without developing a sexual desire for them then you need to figure out how to manage that. You are going to have to maintain sufficient boundaries to protect your heart.
The grey area is in whether or not you are able to look at people who are in situations that you associate with sex, and not lust after them. Men in a Calvin Klein underwear ad. Women in a Victoria Secret catalog. Nude sun bathers on the Mexican Riviera. Artistic paintings that portray intimate acts. I can not draw a line for anyone else in these situations because our weaknesses are different. Where one person sees nudity as being redeemed through Christ’s death on the cross where he removed our shame, another person has only ever seen nudity with a connection to sexual acts. How can we possibly establish a black and white rule that would apply to both people? That is why we need the Holy Spirit to lead us, because He knows us and will guide us in how to be self-controlled in our thought life.
So I do believe that the husband, in the case of the writer of the above question, could very well be able to look at beautiful women and admire her without becoming sexually desirous or covetous of her, but if in fact he sees an attractive woman in lingerie and admires her and then desires her, he needs to be accountable for that sin. In either case, an important factor is that his wife is uncomfortable with it. In order to be loving toward her, when he is with his wife and an attractive woman is near by in a bikini I think it would be respectful of him to keep his focus on his wife in these situations. I think it’s important for a couple to be able to communicate these sorts of things to one another and so it’s good that this man could express his perspective on it and perhaps at some point this writer will adjust her own perspective and there will be more unity between them. For now, though, it would be beneficial to their relationship for them to extend a lot of grace to one another.
We need to remember in all of this that nakedness, in and of itself, is not sinful. It’s the circumstances around how someone is or isn’t dressed that determine if it is sin or not, and because we live in a fallen world, we do need to be mindful of the fact that to see immodesty is a struggle for a lot of people. This is why I believe that a certain amount of awareness of the impact of how we dress is important. Having said that, I also believe that the onus is not on us to manage another person’s sin for them. If a man or a woman looks beautiful and they dress well, people are going to notice and will choose where they allow their thoughts to go.
Another woman wrote us the following:
My husband continues to point out beautiful women that we see in public, on the internet and on TV. I’ve told him that this hurts my feelings. I am a beautiful woman and I’m happy with the way I look and he agrees. He feels it’s better that I know that he his looking at other women, than keep it a secret. He is very communicative about all things and that’s usually a blessing, but his commentaries on beautiful women bothers me. Should I just get over it or tell him again to please stop?
This is another situation where not every solution will be appropriate for every couple. I have friends who are very expressive with their spouse about the attractive people they see and they are fine with that, but the fact remains that if this writer has told her husband not to mention the beautiful women he sees, he should be respectful of her wishes and keep those observations to himself.
So what is your opinion on this? How do you feel about your husband looking at beautiful women? Do you think it’s ever possible for him to look and not lust? Are you able to look at handsome men and admire them without lusting? I’m interested to hear your perspective.