How many kinds of people are there? Many would say only two. For millennia, reaching back into Bible times, Jewish folk have viewed themselves as God’s chosen people and everyone else as gentiles (or simply non-Jews). Evangelical Christians usually view every person as either a believer (saved) or a non-believer (lost). From a purely biological perspective, we might divide the human population into male and female, but now that gender is often considered a fluid thing, that isn’t a given anymore.
In my experience as a sex addict, I too act as if there only two kinds of people in the world: those that I find attractive (the “hot”) and those that I am not attracted to (the “not’). When I see someone, long-standing mental habits direct my eyes to take in outward appearance: hair color and style, body type, weight, clothing, etc. With this data, I quickly categorize each person a either attractive (a lust object) or not attractive (no eye candy material here). Upon entering a crowded room or walking through a busy mall or airport, my eyes dart from one person to the next—judging each “hot” or “not” before moving on to the next. Often those that are “hot” get longer looks—probably second looks, third looks, and more. With this visual inventory, I analyze, categorize, and eventually objectify many of the people I see. I don’t know how long I’ve been doing this. Seems like it started at or before adolescence, but I find this habit weakens sobriety and slows down recovery. Some call this activity “street lust” or “losing custody of the eyes.” I call it frustrating because no matter what tools I use to overcome this habit, the next time I’m in a crowd, I start doing it again.
Some find it helpful to pray for those they are tempted to objectify. I think that’s a good plan, but I must pray faster than my mind can categorize. The shorter the prayer the better. On a recent trip to the city, I found myself on the freeway next to a park. As an attractive, scantily dressed jogger rounded the corner and my eyes began to lock on, I prayed a very simple prayer, “God bless you, goodbye!” At 55 miles an hour, that prayer was just long enough to break my eye-lock and dismiss that person from my thoughts. Since then, I’ve been trying the GBYG prayer in other situations and it usually works when there no time for longer prayers.
I’m not changing my theology, but I think that as far as I’m concerned God didn’t make two kinds of people, the hot and the not. He only made one kind of person—the kind that He loves. I have no need to sort out the human race on God’s behalf. My hot/not categories are useless and objectification is demeaning to the Creator of all. I haven’t broken the habit yet, but I’m learning to look at people a bit differently—the same way God looks at me—through the eyes of His love.