By Devon Dick
RECENTLY, FORMER Assistant Commissioner of Police, Englishman Les Green made some observations about the Jamaica Constabulary Force. These included a claim that members of the force, presumably the men, are easily distracted by pretty women. Some will question the veracity of that statement believing that most policemen are distracted by women, period, without reference to looks.
It is beyond anecdotal realms to claim that many male police are known as 'galis', having women in many different parishes and a matching number of children with various ladies. This means that many are objectifying women as sex objects to be conquered and exploited for selfish reasons and bragging rights rather than seeing them as sexual beings with whom a lifelong commitment can be enjoyed and a family raised.
Unfortunately, even in the Church, women are objectified. It is claimed that if a woman shows too much skin it is a distraction that results in unsuitable attention; causes brothers to stumble, and gives cause for rape. Therefore, the female body is perceived as a temptation and a distraction in the church community - a dangerous and seductive weapon.
Sources of distraction
So men can go topless at the beach but Christian women have to cover up, apparently the size of the breasts matters. This thinking is rooted in shame of the body. Women's bodies are not perceived as glorious reflections of the image of God, but as sources of distraction and temptation that must be hidden from men.
So most policemen objectify the female body as an arena for sexual exploits, while clergymen proclaim shame on the female body which needs to be fully covered. No wonder some churches do not allow for female priests and bishops; it would be too distracting! Do you remember the hue and cry over sculptor Laura Facey's statue in front of Emancipation Park which had a naked female body? Part of the objection was due to a perception of shame associated with the female body, which should be concealed in order to prevent the woman from becoming a sexual object.
And there are still persons who equate men with the mind and women with flesh.
Celebrate the female body
The Christian community needs to overhaul its theology of the female body. The bodies of women and the bodies of men should be perceived in similar ways. And a woman's identity should not be defined uniquely by her body in ways that men's bodies are not. On this Valentine's Day, we need to celebrate the female body without objectifying women. We must stop perceiving women as distractions and stop making women feel ashamed of their bodies being instruments of temptation. We ought to value the female body as made in the image of God. Women's bodies are not intrinsically distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women's bodies glorify God. A woman's breasts and bottom, hips and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honours God. God created the female body, and as stated in Genesis 1, it was good
PS: Happy birthday to my daughter, Dana-Marie whom her mother, Mary, brought into the world on Valentine's Day.
Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of From Rebellion to Riot, and The Cross and the Machete. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org