Years ago I read a book by Ferrol Sams called Run with the Horsemen, in which he describes this scene from a small-town barbershop: “Once Mr. Sam Percy was waiting his turn on a Saturday morning for a haircut and shave. He was making detailed anatomical comments about each and every female who walked down the street or across the courthouse square. Finally one young girl hove into view, and Mr. Sam was silent. Mr. Lum Thornton loudly remarked, ‘Now there’s a fine one!’ [and went on to describe the finer points of her anatomy in graphic detail]. “‘Dammit, Lum,’ complained Mr. Sam Percy, ‘Watch your mouth. That’s my daughter.’ Mr. Isaac Harte flipped his brush around the neck of the current customer, creating a cloud of talcum powder. ‘Sam,’ he said softly, ‘ever one of them girls was somebody’s daughter.’”
That’s just the truth, isn’t it? Every woman is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mother, somebody’s wife, and if you can remember that it will help you think of her in a different way. When you lust after anyone—male or female—you turn that person into a thing, into an object of lust. Which reminds me of the way some people practice evangelism. Instead of seeing non-Christians as precious children of God they see them as “souls to be saved.” Is that any different from looking at a woman and seeing only a body—looking at a person and seeing only a soul?
I was talking about this to someone who was getting ready to go to a Muslim country as a missionary. I said, “Please just love those people like God loves them. Get to know them. Chop vegetables with them in their kitchens, notice how they put their children to bed, watch the way they move when the music is good, learn the sound of their laughter. If you form real relationships with them, simply because you want to get to know them and not because you’re trying to convert them, there will be plenty of opportunities to share your faith. But don’t “use” your friendship to convert them to Christianity. Just be a Christian friend.”
Now, that may not sound very “strategic” to you, but to me it sounds more like love and less like lust. It sounds like a way of seeing people as people, and not only as souls. You see, I don’t think God gave his only begotten son begotten because he loves souls; I think he gave his only begotten son because he loves people.