Discussing
The other reason not to look at those nude celebrity photos

Stephen Woodworth

Stephen Woodworth
September 3, 2014

To view stolen photos of naked celebrities directly counters our call to treat each other as creatures made in the image of God.

Steve
September 3, 2014

Stephen, very good point about the added layer of violation these pictures offer. I think a lot of people-- Christians included-- might justify looking at these pictures out of "idle curiosity," and as long no lustful thoughts cross their minds. Others say these celebrities get what they deserve in this day and age of leaked texts and private pictures. But it's wrong even if lust doesn't play a part, or if celebrities are involved.

A third reason not to look at these pics-- and you actually did mention this-- would be that these items were stolen, and by looking at them, we're complicit in this crime, just the same as if we took a share of stolen money. We may not have stolen the photos personally, but if we're looking at them, we're using this property against the owners' will.

God doesn't want us to lust in our hearts, doesn't want us to act in a way that would violate a person's "image of God"-ness, and he doesn't want us to steal. On top of all that, there's the good old Golden Rule: would we want someone looking at us naked without our permission? Then we shouldn't do it to someone else.

S.L. Woodworth
September 3, 2014

Steve V- thanks for reading and responding. Your observations highlight the multi-layered issues that have stemmed from this tragedy. There are almost no shortage of reasons to refrain from perpetuating this evil, and you have added a couple more solid ones. My wife had mentioned this morning that another reason for our interest in these photos particularly is the fact they we tend to be so overly obsessed with the lives of celebrities that we often feel like we know them, that they know us, that we are in some sort of relationship that justifies our entrance into their most private affairs. We may subconsciously justify a glance at these photos because, in some strange way, we feel as if the celebrities themselves owe us a peek in return for our loyalty. Again, no shortage of reasons for us to discuss why this is wrong. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. Keep reading. Keep thinking. Keep responding.

Kbrigan
September 3, 2014

Agreed. If the thieves had literally peeped through people's windows with zoom lenses, they'd be in jail right now. Electronic theft, even when it's not as obsessive and invasive as these instances, is just as much a violation and just as much a crime.

S.L. Woodworth
September 3, 2014

Kbrigan- absolutely true. Often, what we are willing to do online is vastly different than what we are willing to do in person. Sometimes the "anonymity" of an online identity can foster a sense of being removed from the actual crime, abuse or hurt we are committing towards others. We can convince ourselves that online is, quite simply, someone else. Frightening things can happen we we start down that road. Thanks for reading and responding.

Bloveland
September 4, 2014

This scandal caused me shame when I realized that my very first mental response was, to "find out what she looks like under there." It certainly wasn't motivated by lust, but as Lawrence has been a spokesperson against photoshop and the propagandized worship of unnatural beauty in the film industry, I wanted some clue about her motivation to take the photos. I have always assumed that nude photos must be a result of insecurity, megalomania, or just plain lust and it made wonder if her private self-image would hold up to her public soap box.

Then, there is the reason that most women ever want to see other women naked - for competition's sake. Women gravitate toward images of a clothed Lawrence because she, like Adele and the old Rachel Ray, and the old Scarlett Johansen, offer some glimmer of hope that we, perhaps could someday live in a culture that publicly recognizes those who aren't a size zero as attractive people. I was hopeful that maybe an uncensored glimpse of cellulite might make me feel a little better. I mean, after all, the market has targeted our insecurities for eons to sell us products that promise to bring us closer to those goddesses on the hill.

Thank Heavens I realized what my brain was up to before I got to google or I may have added to the scores of violators and acted like Ham rather than Shem and Japheth!!

As I write this, I think of the industries built on exposing the nakedness of celebrities literally AND metaphorically. We are a country of voyeurs and I think the reasons that we revel in celebrity shame are more about our own competitive nature than we would like to admit. Envy is the taproot of competition. Another word for competition is covetousness. Lust and covetousness are the same sin. An insane portion on our economy is based on just this. And, the love of money... well, you know what they say.

The only cure is to be grounded in our OWN identity. Imago die, indeed, my friend!

S.L. Woodworth
September 4, 2014

bloveland- I like your comments more than the article. I especially appreciate a female perspective that highlights the temptation to "gawk" from a very different angle. Indeed, we live in a perpetual state of "sizing up" that is as exhausting as it is depressing. Someone is always prettier, smarter, faster, stronger. When this sort of habit creeps into our spiritual life it can kill any sense of intimacy with the Father or with others in the body of Christ; the very thing we need in order to experience the true acceptance we crave, and already have, in Him.

Steve
September 5, 2014

Bloveland, thanks for the female perspective! Somehow I always picture only men tempted to peek at stuff like this, but obviously (and unfortunately) that's an incorrect assumption. Thanks for your honesty and spot-on assessment of how our own insecurities often drive us to sin.

JRWeeks
September 5, 2014

Steve,
Thank you for the thoughtful post. This situation has so many angles and layers to it that it is impossible to point to the linchpin of the problem. I fully agree with you about the imago dei and would add that one of the driving forces to the temptation to look up the photos is the other side of that coin—the fact that we also marred by sin. As you have pointed out, appropriate nakedness represents openness and intimacy and therefore inappropriate nakedness relates to shame. The dueling tension of being made in God’s image and fully sinful has given us a fundamental need to have intimate relationships but because no area in our lives are not marked by sin we have distorted and twisted this need. As anyone who is truly seeking a godly relationship knows, intimacy is extremely difficult and takes hard work. All too often we want to take short cuts to our biblical calling of intimacy and therefore seek inappropriate nakedness. This also goes to your wife’s point, in that, we justify our actions because we feel like we know these celebrities and have a warped sense of relationship with them. Once there though, we naturally feel shame or guilt (natural revelation) because we recognize that this is an inappropriate nakedness. At that point it is easier to simply point the finger, “They should have never take those pictures, it’s their fault” or “They got what they deserve for taking those pictures in the first place” than it is to look at our own sin. So the question is how do we guard our hearts and teach others to guard theirs to the point that we seek appropriate nakedness or true intimacy?

Bloveland
September 5, 2014

I am going to have to be careful having just found this website. I think I could lose entire days stalking through the pages...eeek, but thank you both.

My husband and I came to the notion several years ago that the relationship men and women have with lust is two sides of the same coin which is used currency in this world.

I don't want to be presumptive, but our theory goes something like this:
Mother Culture sat us on her knee and said to us, "If a woman can turn a man into something someone pretty wants, then she proves her worth as being someone pretty and assigns him a high level of honor and respect."

Men will go to strange lengths to become this thing and when they can not attain it, their self worth plummets and they will sometimes seek out pornography as a short form of conquest, "Culture told me I am supposed to want this most. Culture told me that my lust is tied to my value as a man.

"Women also go to great lengths, ergo the duck-faced teens in bikinis on Facebook, "I have to do whatever I must in order to make them want me. Culture told me my worth is tied to my ability to gain attention."

Maybe it is God's design for men to be attracted to beauty and for women to desire to be such, but as with all of God's gifts, the enemy's perversion is to strip away the meaning and leave nothing but the carnal pleasure which can only be temporal outside of its context.

The irony of this situation... that both parties are reducing their worth down to their ability to attract and be attractive...that's what the gospel of natural selection has to offer. I'm not buying it.

S.L. Woodworth
September 9, 2014

JRWeeks- thanks for joining the conversation here. Your point is well taken. The solution too often for our shame is to simply shift the blame. I hear echoes of the garden here: "It was the woman you gave me...it was the serpent you created." When some respond that "they should have never taken those pictures", they are not offering a solution to the ultimate problem, but instead, are just averting people's eyes away from their own fig leaves. To answer your question more fully, I believe the Church needs to model this balance of intimacy and vulnerability in community. We often choose physical nakedness to emotional nudity because it is simply easier. But it is ultimately never as satisfying. I believe that if the body of Christ did a better job of creating space for our true selves to be known and loved, there would be far less of a need to put on a "duck-face and a bikini" (as bloveland puts it above) before thew watching world in order to find why we are truly looking for, and what we really lost, in the Garden.

Bloveland
September 9, 2014

JRWeeks, I was in the middle of writing my last post when yours came in and I am sorry to say that I did not read it very closely because I missed your strong insights. How interesting that we were, simultaneously using a coin as a metaphor in our posts to drive at the idea that both the lust-er and the provocateur of lust are making a blind stab at intimacy. I really appreciate the precision with which you have crafted this thought. I am also proposing that it is our lack of security in our identity as children of the Most High God that leaves us vulnerable and seeking the counterfeit.

Yes, S.L.Woodworth! Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that the lack of space for our true selves in the church is definitely an elemental ingredient in this problem! Looking back at church history, it is easy to see how more primitive sects could wage such war on icons. We so easily create Christ in our own images, but today, more than ever, we are a people that creates our own images into gods. We have many images: the ones on Facebook, the ones we have for friends and family, and the ones we have in church. We bifurcate our very own self into a thing we can worship. For the church to make an effort at reuniting our own selves would be a huge movement toward that truest intimacy we crave. Obviously, this is not a work we can do alone. Perhaps, the key is to beg God to re-member us.

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