In the movie “12 years a Slave,” people are devalued and treated like objects. Throughout the movie, there are scenes in which these people stand in rooms and their captors touch, poke, and otherwise handle them much like a dress in a store.
12 Years a Slave
In Beyonce’s newest video, “Pretty Hurts,” which is about women preparing for and going through a beauty contest, there is a similar scene. All of the contestants are standing along a wall, and a gentleman is drawing on them, touching them, and making sure they are of good value to their judges. They won’t be bought or sold that day, but they are objectified and valued like merchandise. Just as the slaves in, “12 years a Slave” find their self-worth based on whether or not they are accepted by those that objectify them, the women in this video seem to base their self-worth on whether or not those men that objectify them find value in them.
When I saw the title, “Pretty Hurts,” I thought of ‘pretty’ as describing the ‘hurts’ inflicted upon women. In other words, that the wounds inflicted upon women in our society are somehow ‘pretty.’ Though, I think that just as our male dominated society objectifies women, and many women see ‘pretty’ as a level of acceptance to be obtained, we have objectified the word, ‘pretty.’ We consider something ‘pretty’ if it attains to a certain level of aesthetically pleasing standards. A woman, we have taught them as a society, is not ‘pretty’ unless her objectified, physical appearance is similar or better than that of another object to which she is held up in comparison.
‘Pretty’ is no longer an adjective to describe an object. Rather, ‘pretty’ is the object the subject (women) try to become, and it is the attempt to attain to that object that becomes the barometer by which many women measure their value. In that, as a society, we have moved from objectifying women to objectifying language in the form of the word ‘pretty,’ and women are held in subjugation to trying to become a certain type of object. If we understand the word, ‘pretty’ in the title as an object (a noun), we can understand how the word ‘hurts’ is used as a verb or adjective. Both uses of ‘hurts’ describe a physical or mental wound inflicted by the objectification of ‘pretty.’ The title describes the object inflicting wounds up on the subject.
Just as black men and women were subjected by the word ’slave,’ the attempt of women to become an acceptable object (‘pretty’) wounds them physically, emotionally, and psychologically. And just as, the objectification of ‘pretty’ can hold a woman in subjugation to attaining to a level of acceptance, so also the knowledge of sin holds sinners in subjugation to the full awareness of their sinfulness.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would have no longer felt guilty for their sins.
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
When Christ came, He came to cleanse our consciousness.
He came to free us from the guilt of sin, and all the sacrificial system did was remind people they were slaves to sin. The sacrificial system didn’t pay off the debt of our transgressions against God, rather it just reminded the people of their debt. The high priests knew they would just have to go back to the temple the next year to make another sacrifice. They were, along with all of the people of Israel, under the subjugation of sin. Christ didn’t come to make the final payment; Christ came to make the only payment that counted. God demanded the blood of a perfect lamb, so our conscious could be cleansed from the bondage of sin, but we did not have access to the perfect blood of the lamb until Christ came.
So, how do overcome that bondage of sin?
We must allow Christ to cleanse our conscious from trying to obtain to the object of ‘good.’ Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone (Mark 10:18b).” Sin caused us to objectify ‘good,’ as if it is something we must obtain. Rom. 3:23 says, “For all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”
Just as some women only feel ‘pretty’ because of the self-value they learn from those around her, we realize ‘good’ is not something to obtain because of a certain amount or types of works we do that we call ‘good.’ Those of us bought by the blood of the lamb are ‘good’ because of Christ’s nature in us, and the realization of that nature is our salvation. Just as a woman should not measure her worth according to whether or not she is able to attain to a socially acceptable level of ‘pretty,’ we should not measure our worth in Christ by trying to obtain ‘good.’
When we take on the nature of Christ, we take on the nature of ‘good.’ ‘Good’ is no longer an acceptable character level we must strive to obtain, rather it is the value of Christ’s nature within us. The sacrificial system of the old testament, and the good works of those today who think the more good works they do the closer they will be to God, is like makeup. It may make someone appear to be something on the outside they are not on the inside, but it does not change who they are on the insude. That doesn’t mean Christian shouldn’t or don’t do good works (Read the book of James), but it means Christians should not allow themselves to become subject to trying to obtain salvation by being and doing ‘good.’
How do you overcome the objectification of trying to be ‘good enough’
1. Realize there is nothing you can do to obtain to the level of ‘good’ that will justify you before God. It is like trying to pay off a sum of money with an infinite number of zeros when you only have access to wood chips by giving your debtor IOU notices (that’s the sacrificial system) that only remind both of you that you can never pay it.
2. Admit to God that you have a debt of sin to Him so large there is nothing you can do to pay it off, and ask Christ to pay it off for you.
3. Realize that your debt is now paid, and you are redeemed by the blood of the lamb.
Too many people only have a surface level understanding of the power we as Christians have, and I want to help more people realize the depth of the power of our salvation in Christ. The main focus of my blogs will be on strengthening the body of Christ, but some will be gospel focused. I love studying God’s word, I love sharing my understanding and knowledge of what I study, and I love dialoguing with others about what I study
I welcome questions, comments, and even criticism. But please no personal attacks, attacks on my beliefs, or attacks on anyone who chooses to comment here. I want this blog to raise awareness of the redemptive power of God we have through Jesus Christ. I hope you will continue to read this blog and join me on my journey ‘On Becoming Human.’