When you objectify something you can’t love it

To see a fellow human as a mere object is to diminish our own humanity

When you objectify something you can’t love it. You’re using it. And you destroy it. And you make real relationality impossible.

—Richard Rohr

I heard this quote from Father Richard Rohr on a podcast interview yesterday and immediately wrote it down.

It’s one of those you have to read, read again, and read some more. It takes time to sink it.

But then it’s impossible to not be struck by what he’s said.

“When you objectify something you can’t love it.”

To objectify, lest we forget, means, ‘to degrade to the status of a mere object’.

After reflecting on this, I found myself thinking about the difference between love and lust. Lust, the dictionary tells us, is ‘strong sexual desire’. But all too often, the outworking of this is in explicitly degrading someone to the status of a mere object.

We build a picture of someone in our mind—or, in the case or pornography, look at a picture or video of someone—that isn’t based on reality or on relationship. We aren’t interested in them for who they are, but merely for what they can do for us—in this case, provide a sexual thrill.

We use them. For nothing more than our own selfish needs.

There’s nothing loving about this.

If this all happens in our own company though, no one gets hurt, right?

Wrong. When we objectify someone, at the very least we hurt ourselves. To see a fellow human as a mere object is to diminish our own humanity.

And that has repercussions.

Is it any wonder that, when so many of us are objectifying our fellow humans in the privacy of our own homes, we then end up mistreating them back out in the real world?

In addition, though objectifying someone through lust may give us temporary pleasure, it can never match the depth and richness of love; love that comes through real relationship and connection.

When lust—strong sexual desire—is coupled with love in a meaningful, real-life relationship, it becomes a wonderful and powerful and beautiful thing.

Outside of that though, we are harming ourselves. We are eating away at our own humanity. And we may even make it harder for ourselves to form real relationships.

Image: Tora Chu

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