To the Man with the Wandering Eye: A Woman’s Perspective
Yes, I’m talking to you. The one sneaking glances when you think your significant other isn’t watching. The one looking every place except the eyes when interacting with a woman. The one shamelessly going for the second, third, and fourth glance.
There’s a few things you ought to know…
First, we see you (we being the women you’re staring at). Your “secret” glances aren’t so secret. In all your perusing you forgot something: just because you broke eye contact with us doesn’t mean we broke eye contact with you. We see your eyes fall, and it feels awkward on our end. We’re left hanging in those moments as you obliviously gaze. We watch… and wait for you to snap back into the reality of our original interaction.
Second, we feel defiled. In general, women are very discerning. They easily pick up on unspoken variables, which means that most of them find it quite easy to tell when a man’s thoughts are X-rated. Women do want to feel beautiful and desirable – don’t get me wrong. And a man’s discreet, honorable response affirming our beauty is fine. The key words, though, are discreet and honorable. Some responses to beauty edify and honor women, while others degrade them and make them feel defiled. The former type is what the feminine heart was made for. [See the aside at the end of the post.]
Third, your significant other notices when you repeatedly stare at other women in her presence. Your gazing isn’t lost on the other woman, and it’s no secret to your wife either. She sees it. And it hurts. In fact, it feels like a knife in her heart, and the pain is accompanied by a lie whispered into her ear: You’re not beautiful. He doesn’t desire you. You don’t satisfy him. She has what you don’t. You’re not enough. She sees and is so deeply hurt by your wandering eye. Don’t be fooled if she pretends to be unaffected by it. She likely learned a long time ago to bury her hurt because, as she’s been told, “that’s just the way men are.” So over time she has lowered her expectations, having been convinced that she was wrong to have ever expected better.
Fourth, inside of your wife’s heart is a deep longing – for you to recognize and value her individual beauty and for you to be satisfied in it. Though she might have buried it long ago, it’s still in there. This longing of hers is first to be met by God himself. But you, by His grace, can also play an important role in meeting her heart’s desire. You can choose to rise up as an affirming voice in her life. Every time you choose not to gaze at another, you communicate to her that you are satisfied in her, that she is desirable, that she is enough. I realize that the mental battle men face is very real. And the honor with which God calls men to live is impossible with human strength alone. Thankfully, God offers his very own strength as the means of living with such honor. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Fifth, your wandering eye will only be tamed from the inside out. Transformation begins in your heart and your mind. Something has to rise up within you that wants to be a man of honor. And the Holy Spirit must be invited into the process. He’s the only One who can change anyone. What you feed your mind is also crucial. Watching porn is only adding to your bondage. Acting honorably is the overflow of thinking honorably. Purifying your inner life will naturally transform the rest of your life.
Sixth, this discussion applies just as much to single guys as it does to guys who are married or dating. Being single isn’t a license to look at whomever you want with whatever X-rated thoughts you want. Honor is the standard for every person, regardless of his/her context.
Seventh, it’s worth it. God’s ways satisfy. Pursuing inner wholeness is worth the time and effort. His Word wasn’t written to steal from us but to give to us. Pursuing him and yielding to his ways lead to joy. Cultivating a heart that is fully satisfied in God and fully satisfied in your spouse yields an abundant life. Instead of being caught in the trap of an untamed thought life which fights against your real-life relationship, you are free to actually be in the moment and enjoy the life God gave you to live. Lust is an endless cycle that always pulls a person back in because it never satisfies. God has so much more for us. He invites us not into a shameful fantasy world but into a real, abundant life.
I can hear what some of you are thinking in objection to what I’ve said: Many women send the opposite vibe of what you discussed as being a woman’s perspective. There are two factors to remember concerning this: First, this discussion is a woman’s perspective, not the final and exhaustive perspective of all women. Second, and more importantly, we live in a fallen world which is home to many wounded women. When women are wounded, one of the most common manifestations of their brokenness is dysfunctional relationships with men. Some subject themselves to controlling and abusive relationships because of their wounds. Others thrive off of seduction, promiscuity, and degrading attention from men because of their lack of self worth. A woman who seeks such devaluing, negative attention from men is acting from woundedness, not from her God-given desires.
This discussion has no goal of diminishing a righteous appreciation of beauty or attractiveness in the opposite sex. God created men and women with the ability to recognize and enjoy beauty in each other, and the human eye is naturally drawn to things and people that are beautiful. It’s when the thought life moves beyond recognition and appreciation into the world of defilement that we cross the line. People are not objects to be used, nor are they to be subjected to someone’s twisted, sinful imagination. We are each made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and, therefore, ought to be treated and thought of with honor. It is truly a beautiful thing when one person’s attractiveness arouses an honorable response in the other.