Smokin’ Hot Wives & Water to the Soul

A couple days ago, Her.meneutics ran a great piece by Mary DeMuth on the current obsession among evangelical pastors/leaders with talking/tweeting endlessly about their “smokin’ hot wives” – an obsession that has spread throughout American Christian culture.

The post resonated with me.

It resonated because, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was once a part of the segment of evangelicalism that fosters this kind of attitude – the kind that makes leaders go on and on about their wives’ hotness as if it’s some kind of requisite modern virtue. And, full disclosure, I bought into the smokin’ hot talk for a while, if only to be one of the guys, part of the team. Of course, underlying all that rhetoric is a strong complementarian view of gender roles in the church and home, where men are the heads and women submit, where men are the shepherds and women…submit, where men need lots of sex because that’s how God created them and women………submit. You get the idea.

That last part is especially dicey these days – because Christian culture is now totally hyped about sex.

Recently, I saw one megachurch pastor post a photo of his wife on Instagram with a caption from Proverbs 31 (I know, surprise surprise). Part of it made a slight addition the text: “her leather pants are like water to her husband’s soul.” This particular fellow is known for free and frequent hot wife posts, including one photo of the couple with a room full of new church members where he commented that despite his joy at meeting such great new people, he was really just staring at his wife’s (no doubt leather-clad) butt. And my friend Stephanie Drury from Stuff Christian Culture Likes can unearth literally hundreds of posts like these at any given moment from evangelicals and pastors tweeting about their hot wives this and body parts that as a matter of pious online course.

It’s all a bit disturbing, really.

And honestly, this kind of jibber-jabber is just a place setting for the more atrocious meal of Song of Solomon-themed sex sermons and books, not least those coming from Mark Driscoll or prosperity preachers like Ed Young, Jr.

All this, of course, is the way to show the world that Christians have the best sex ever and it’s holy because we’re married! And that we’re not legalists or fundamentalists or scared of sex or whatever! And that we have so much of the fun when we are doing the sex in all of the sexy ways one may do it (even anal is ok, Pastor Mark said so)!

But here’s what’s really going on, most of the time. Mostly, guys blabbing about this stuff are just posturing. They are publicly asserting that they are in fact one of the (Christian) guys, the ones with the power, the ones with the penii (is that the correct plural form?). They are showing that they have a dominant gender role in the home and church, given to them by God, and by golly they are going to tweet compliments about their wives, using the words of drunk 19 year old fraternity brothers. And mostly, they are overcompensating because this Christian culture obsession with sex has got them thinking lustfully and, probably, not always about their wives of x years but other women more appealing to them in the teenage kneejerk visual stimulation sense.

In other words, mostly, they are projecting.

And worse, even as they go on and on about the hotness of their spouse, they are demeaning her.

When I asked my wife how that kind of thing made her feel when I was half-heartedly trying to be one of the guys, that’s the word she used.

Demeaning.

At the Missio Alliance Gathering a couple weeks ago, we heard from unbelievable women preachers, teachers, and theologians. And the context for their speaking was not, “Hey, it’s time to hear from some ladies, wives of so and so pastor/author/professor!” They were not a sideshow. They were not speaking mainly “to women, as women.” They were not playing off their gender as some kind of schtick. No, they were on the main stage. They were speaking to all and proclaiming the Word over all. They were speaking with authority – authority over men in the audience (who were all gladly submitting, btw, much to John Piper’s dismay). Fact is, these women were responsible for some of the most powerful moments in the entire week, and put some of the other bros to shame (just saying!).

It occurred to me that not once in the entire week did I hear any male leader talk about his smokin’ hot wife. Nor even an Obama-esque gaffe about being “cute” or “good-looking.” And that’s because this obsessive male Christian mentality can’t exist where women are speaking and preaching and leading in the same roles as men, mutually submitted to Christ and each other. Such an environment literally chokes out these misogynistic habits or at least exposes them for exactly what they are – objectifying and dehumanizing to women. And make no mistake, that’s what this is, because as soon as a woman is thought of as a thing – a thing like a “smokin’ hot Christian wife” – she becomes less of a person.

And, interestingly, a person is exactly what a woman is first and foremost to God, a person made in God’s image, filled with God’s Spirit, and gifted to serve God as a member of the Body of Christ.

That’s the perspective we should be talking and tweeting about.

Now, brothers, I know what you may be thinking. I can feel you winding up for the pushback. And I understand that you might think you’re an exception and your compliments are sincere and well-meaning and your wife really likes it when you call her smokin’ hot on twitter and stuff. But I want you to consider that maybe, deep down, both you and she are not being totally honest. Maybe something beautiful is being cheapened here for both of you.

And maybe, just maybe, the sacredness of sexy compliments shared in secret would be like water to both of your souls.

What do y’all think? Am I on to something or not?!

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • thobie01

    Thank you for this – I couldn’t agree more. “Hot” is a poor adjective to be used with our wives. I learned this when a middle school student asked me one day if my wife was “hot,”and I stood there dumbfounded. That wordwoword meant something to him, and nt

  • thobie01

    Yay for phone. Here’s what it was supposed to say: Thank you for this – I couldn’t agree more. “Hot” is a poor adjective to be used with our wives. I learned this when a middle school student asked me one day if my wife was “hot,”and I stood there dumbfounded. That word meant something to him, and I knew because of that, it was demeaning to talk about my wife that way.

  • Philip

    You make good points. FYI, surprisingly to me, the traditional plural of penis http://etymonline.com/?term=penis (which kind of makes sense, like crisis/crises). Penii might be a good plural for a word penius.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Philip haha good to know! i was, thankfully, just joking about penii, but i’m glad to get the terminology straight :).

  • Selkie1970

    I think “projection” is apt. I always view tweets like you are describing as confusions of love languages. Apparently those men would like to be publicly lauded for their virility or whathaveyou. Rather than asking their wives how the wives would like to be publicly addressed, which would show deference to her and the way that she receives love, those men assume that what floats their own boat will do the same for their wives. Really, it is a form of narcissism.

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

    i love this, zach (and mary’s CT post). i used to go to monthly youth pastor networking events, and the guy-in-charge always spoke this way. it projected the idea that women were ornamental arm-candy and not-so-subtly reinforced A Woman’s Place within the group. in the whole city, there were only two women who ran youth programs, and even though i went for three years, people still continuously mistook my friend and i for somebody else’s wife or volunteer.
    i’m encouraged to hear that missio alliance is consciously headed in a better direction. stay vigilant and keep listening. these sorts of attitude are most glaring within rigid gender hierarchies, but the most progressive and well-intentioned communities still tier people and privilege voices in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. i think you’re absolutely right: we can choke out inequalities and objectification in Christ with mutuality and co-leadership, but it’s an ongoing, intentional process, not a one-and-done “we hire and ordain woman so problem solved!” sort of thing–or else the mainline and emergence crews would’ve had it all fixed by now:)
    thanks for writing this.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      suzannah | smitten word thanks suzannah. i agree – missio was a step in the right direction, and there is a journey ahead :).

  • sarahjewel

    I had a former pastor who would constantly tell the men in his congregation that wives should be saints in public but “Saturday night whores in the bedroom.” I was just… so disgusted by that I couldn’t even come up with words for a reply.

    • mommajlee

      sarahjewel that is terrible. just terrible.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        mommajlee sarahjewel agreed. yuck.

  • http://www.churchthought.com/ Matt Steen

    Whenever I hear or read comments in the vein of ‘smokin hot wife’ my mind goes directly to Talladega Nights, which is where (as best as I can tell) this whole trend started. It is sadly amusing to me that most of the tribe that talks this way prides themselves on their superior theology, yet are so highly influenced by Will Farrell.

    • SWNID

      Matt Steen This utterly captures the supreme irony of the smokin’-hot heresy: people picked up a phrase from a movie that is bitterly ridiculing the evangelical subculture that, having been captured by every stupid idea in the culture at large, glorifies wealth, materialism, gluttony, egotism, misogyny, and idolizing sex and physical attractiveness. I suppose we can thank that guy who did the absurd invocation at the NASCAR race a couple of years ago, but to do so would only open up another avenue to discuss the way that the faith has been hijacked for tribal celebrations of the flesh.

  • chrisbroadwell

    Back home in the suburbs of north Louisiana, I heard this shit all of the time. Absolutely absurd.

  • TraceyWhite

    Furthermore, isn’t putting one’s wife up on display and asking other men to acknowledge her “hotness” inviting lust?

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      TraceyWhite it’s at least a little weird.

    • ThursdayPerson

      Yes. Another way to talk about this dynamic (the way describing one’s visual experience invites the reader/ hearer to share in it) is that it normalizes the “male gaze” among Christians. This reinforces the view that Christian discourse is by and for men. That’s why hearing women theologians teach is such a rebuke to “smokin hot wife” language. How can this be a boys’ game when women are doing it?
      Seriously people, we may not want to appropriate all of the ideas floating around gender studies departments, but there really are some helpful concepts there that offer vocabulary for
      making sense of some of the tensions in evangelical life today.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        @ThursdayPerson BRILLIANT comment. “normalizes the male gaze” – absolutely. hit the nail on the head.

  • KrisE

    i was not aware this was a problem in the evangelical world but i am not surprised by it.  i was part of a cult “church” at one time and they would have supported this behavior and probably doe not.  you know what they say “the ones bragging about getting it, are the ones not getting it.”  either way this is disgusting.  sex is something special between and man and a wife and should never be discussed outside the marriaged.  Lord, thank you for my husband that respects me like a lady and loves me for being a lady.

  • sarahbessey

    Absolutely WONDERFUL post, Zach. I’ll be sharing it. Pretty much just want to stand up here at Starbucks and give you a standing ovation. THANK YOU.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      sarahbessey Oh my goodness, thanks so much Sarah. Makes my day!

  • http://everydaymercies.net/ michelle

    This sums up every thought I’ve ever had but never been eloquent enough to write.  I think demeaning is exactly the right word.  And your last bit about sharing these things in secret… YES.  Thank you for writing this!

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @michelle thanks michelle!

  • Mary DeMuth

    Thank you. I preached my first sermon a few weeks ago, and felt such thrill that I was simply welcomed as me, not as a woman, but as someone with something healing to say to others. I am grateful you liked the post on Her.meneutics too. 
    What blessed me the most about the post was how many emails I received afterward from men. Such affirming, welcoming stories they shared.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Mary DeMuth that is so awesome to hear. praying that it will become the rule among our tribe and not the exception in the days ahead. thanks for your post!

  • summitup

    I was sent this by a friend and WOW! Can I say, thank you for speaking what my heart has been screaming for years now!?  My husband never says things like what you mentioned but my pastor’s wife does about her husband and man does it make him uncomfortable.  The language we use today to elevate our spouse sounds so much like an MTV commercial that I have begun to wonder if we don’t just want to be LIKE the world.  
    And to the ‘Seeing a sister in Christ as a lesser’ – SPOT ON!  Thanks for the read.

  • eve

    thank you.

  • Danielle

    AMEN!!!!! Yes, sacred would be a husband sharing these sexy compliments with his wife only, in their sacred room, away from social media, away from the world, together in Oneness with Him. And part of the husband’s submission to God is to allow God to use his wife and the gifts He has given her to bring Him glory….HIM not him the husband as the holder of this treasured trophy, but HIM as the creator of this treasured blessing.

  • http://strangefigures.wordpress.com/ Sharon Autenrieth

    My niece sent me this link this morning, thinking I might enjoy reading it.  Thank you.  Excellent.  And this weird “hotness” culture in the church is an especially uncomfortable message for those of us who are getting on in years  (well, I’m 48) or who struggle with self-image.
    I’m going to link this post to my blog.  Thank you again!

  • http://ashleighbaker.net/ Ashleigh Baker

    This is excellent. In the early days of my marriage, I was confused by the messages I found in stacks of marriage books – namely, that my husband should be a sex-crazed maniac making slightly sanitized jokes about my body and demanding dutiful sex from his godly young wife each night – because my husband had this strange notion that I was more to him than just a means for legal Christian sex. It took years for me to accept his respect and refusal to play the “manly man” game as a declaration of love.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Ashleigh Baker wonderful insight, ashleigh, thank  you.

  • http://www.wordsbyrobin.wordpress.com/ Robin Lawrimore

    Thank you!

  • http://abbyfahmi.com/ Abby

    Thank you for saying this as a man. I think it’s so critical for godly men to stand up against this kind of treatment of women, particularly wives. When I hear it outside my own church I shudder, I just wonder why anyone would think that’s okay?
    Thankfully, I haven’t ever heard a pastor in my own church use the pulpit to proclaim his wife’s hotness, though I would say that from my perspective as a woman, the pastors wives and female pastors in my church are all beautiful women of God, not just because they are physically attractive women but because they are hard workers in the church, and to me, that is what makes a Christian so beautiful (even male Christians), not physical attributes. 
    Shouldn’t we be celebrating women and men who are working hard in our churches, giving their lives fully to God, instead of rating their looks like the popular kids in high school? I think so.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Abby i think so too :).

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/ priests wife

    I’m a priest’s wife- and I am NOT smoking hot (but for orthodox and Eastern Catholics – it is a bit different….the people wouldn’t like that)

  • Kevin

    I just want to come here to say, first of all, that this is an amazing article that needs to be shared.  That said, I have one point and one question.
    First, the point:  I think it is perfectly okay to comment on the “beauty” of one’s spouse, regardless of the gender of either spouse, but there are less demeaning ways to do it.  If a pastor says something akin to, “When I look at my wife, her beauty reminds me how precious God’s creation is.”  That would be a sweet thing to share, as it compliments not only her look but her character, and does so without objectifying her.
    Now the question.  I’m wondering, does this ever happen the other way around?  Have you ever heard a female pastor, or even a pastor’s spouse, talk this way about her spouse?  I assume this is a problem more for males as public bedroom talk is more commonly accepted, but I’m curious is this reciprocates at all.

    • ThursdayPerson

      I have heard Christine Caine talk about her husband this way, but in my opinion it cannot be seen as the same problem going the other way because of the power dynamics involved. It’s the same reason “reverse racism” isn’t exactly what lots of white people might believe it is.

      • Rae

        @ThursdayPerson I’ve heard Christian women mention “the hottie I married” or something similar on rare occasions, and I think one of them was in fact Christine Caine. (She’s the Australian woman who runs that anti-slavery thing, right?) But it doesn’t come across the same, and it’s not a widespread trend, because men don’t face the problem of being valued and/or objectified for how “hot” they are and nothing else, and women aren’t lauded for being able to get a “hot” husband, and conversely people don’t talk behind women’s backs about how their husband must be “really good in bed”* or how they’re probably secretly lesbian (exhibit a: People’s speculation about Hugh Jackman’s sexuality based on his wife’s appearance) because they married a man that society doesn’t deem “smokin’ hot”. 
        *The only times I hear people say “He must be really good in bed” or assuming a woman married a man for sex/attraction is when he’s a complete ass to her and doesn’t have any of the other “redeeming” qualities that society deems desirable in men such as money, power, a sense of humor, a willingness to do the dishes, motivation to get a full-time job, decent hygiene…

  • M4Faith

    Awesome. Thank you–please repeat this as often as possible until the culture of the church changes.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      M4Faith will do my part, fo sho :)

  • EstherAspling

    I wouldn’t mind being called hot every once in a while, but not for the purpose of self promotion by my husband.

    • ThursdayPerson

      Agreed. Publicly declaring that one’s wife measures up to culturally determined standards of femininity (and these days, feminine beauty is so totally eroticized) just reinforces the majorly sexist attitude that women are not to be publicly regarded as full human beings in and of themselves but as extensions of the men in their lives. You’re presenting her publicly not as valuable and worthy unto herself, but as valuable and worthy in that she meets the erotic standards you and your bro friends all agree equate to being a “good” woman. It’s really frustrating because it contributes to the view that what it means to be a woman is to be lust-worthy, and further (since we are discussing this is terms of marriage) that to be love-worthy is dependent on being lust-”worthy.” Nevermind that we should always give and receive love freely as a a gift and not as something earned.

  • Marty

    A-MEN!  You have hit the nail on the head, here, and you’ve done it by looking at your wife the way God does.  Proverbs 31 says nothing about leather pants, and for good reason.  We should have way too much respect for our wives to reduce them to “smokin’ hot”.  Beauty is much more than skin deep!

  • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

    You are my new favorite blogger.  The end.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Amy Thedinga oh my gosh, thanks amy!

  • phoenicianflux

    Most of these men are seeking to honor, not demean their wives…lets face it, a lot of women feel less that either hot or smokin’ after pushing out a couple of kids, & it’s nice to hear that your husband still finds you sexy in an age where Hugh Heffner (and various porn publications)tells you your husband wants someone different (and younger & 10,000 times sexier) than you. Just one woman’s perspective here, but God forbid we let a man call his wife smokin hot, because it threatens some over sensitive feminists out there.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      phoenicianflux Respectfully, I think you need to look a little deeper here. Appreciate the pushback/perspective, though.

    • Kimberly

      phoenicianflux DOn’t think the issue is telling their wives they are attractive. The issue is using comments about their wives to objectify their wives and glorify themselves. Maybe talking about their wives as a person as opposed to an object, talking about who she is rather than what she looks like, because honestly, appearance has nothing to do with who I am or the heart of me. I am beautiful to my husband I don’t need/want to be used publicly as something to make him feel better about himself.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        @Kimberly phoenicianflux yes, totally. phoenician, if you think i’m saying ‘sexy’ comments are bad all the time, definitely not what i’m saying. talking specifically about public posturing among christian men here.

        • phoenicianflux

          Respectfully, I have read Real Marriage, by Mark Driscoll, you must have skimmed over the part where he does compliment his wife for other things other than appearance, like putting up with him as a self -described “drama queen”, successfully raisin gnomes thwir

        • phoenicianflux

          Sorry, phone freaked….successfully raising their kids, & finding her own place in ministry.

    • SwayingPalmTree

      phoenicianflux Not all women may find it honoring, though. 
      I don’t like it when all a man does is compliment his sweetie on her looks and never praises her for anything else, whether he’s doing this in private constantly (as what happened to me with my ex fiance’) or these bozo preachers who act like preening peacocks but who make themselves look deeply insecure by doing this in public, and on a recurring basis. 
      Mark Driscoll, whom you mentioned in another post here, strikes me as being obsessed with sex and is sexist.  I can’t believe anyone would defend him or any of his books or anything he has to say or write.
      Driscoll opined in one sermon or video of his that the Bible’s Esther was a whore, I kid you not – she was forced into the king’s harem, but that fact seems to elude the good Rev Driscoll. He turned Song of Songs into a raunchy soft Pr0n ordeal.
       The guy has some kind of severe hangups or issues with sex and women. I would not turn to him for advice on anything certainly not sex, relationships, or gender issues. I feel pity for his wife and daughter.

      • phoenicianflux

        SwayingPalmTrees….you obviously did not read his book, & only hear what you want to hear. I am sorry you gave been so hurt by men to hate them & despise sex. You & many like you are the very reason pastors like Driscoll have to write about sex, because God wants us to be healed of our broken pasts & enjoy sex with our spouses. I don’t entirely agree with all his views, but because the hurch was so puritanical about sex for so long, someone had to come along & start some decent dialogue about sex, which I do not consider “obsessive”

        • phoenicianflux

          *have* been….*church*….it’s been real folks, but I’ve gotta go get some of my smokin’hot, godly husband now. It works both ways at our house, & that’s the way I like it. Peace out.

        • SwayingPalmTree

          phoenicianflux 
          I don’t have to read the book itself: I’ve read plenty of reviews of it,  complete with excerpts from it, as well as some of Driscoll’s blogging on related issues. He’s dirty. 
          Where you are getting all this: 
          “You & many like you are the very reason pastors like Driscoll have to write about sex, because God wants us to be healed of our broken pasts & enjoy sex with our spouses” 
          You don’t even know me. I’m in my early 40s , never married, and a virgin – I don’t have a “sexual past” I need to be healed of.
           Sex- obsessed preachers like Driscoll and Ed Young Jr are the reason some Christians have a hard time remaining celibate. They are constantly throwing sex in people’s faces, even at church or in Christian blogs and web sites.
          As someone who is not having sex, I can tell you, Driscoll is too consumed with the topic – and he’s having sex with his wife, I presume.

        • SwayingPalmTree

          phoenicianflux 
          And this (you said,)” I am sorry you gave been so hurt by men to hate them & despise sex. ”
          What? I had a clueless idiot fiance’, but I am not a man hating feminist. 
          I don’t despise sex. I’m a virgin. VIRGIN. 
          I am a virgin who hopes to get married to a “smokin’ hot man” and have some steamy sex one of these days. You sure do make a lot of assumptions about people you know nothing about over the web.

        • mommajlee

          phoenicianflux SwayingPalmTree Healing comes from Jesus Christ, not Mark Driscoll’s opinion on sex.
          Just Sayin

  • Sharideth

    This is good stuff. Kinda nailed it. I would only add that I also believe it’s possible these pastors are so driven to be seen as “real men” they throw the “smokin’ hot” card as proof of their own masculinity. What should be a compliment and demonstration of pride in his spouse, has become a banner of “Aren’t I effing awesome?!”

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Sharideth absolutely, great point.

  • jpserrano

    I tweet about how my wife is going out with her super hot husband.

    • SwayingPalmTree

      jpserrano LOL.

    • phoenicianflux

      Now That Is egotistical.

      • SwayingPalmTree

        phoenicianflux No, I think he has a sense of humor.

  • http://culturalsavage.com/ culturalsavage

    I’ve got other thoughts that I need to slow down and organize, but to me this “hott piece of ass I snagged…. I mean smokin’ hot wife” is about as “trophy wife” mentality as you can get. 
    Listen, if your wife isn’t some sort of sex kitten/eye candy she still has value. In fact, she has value end of story. To decide that a woman’s role is to complement the man, and then to insist that the man’s helper has to be a good looking assistant is just flat out sexism. It undermines the gospel of grace and love by insisting that the amazing pastor (man) is only worthy of a centerfold quality wife. That’s not Proverbs 31, 1Corinthians 13, or any other verse you want to misconstrue.

  • http://meetthebuttrams.com/ jbuttwhatwhat

    Perfect. Glad to meet you.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      jbuttwhatwhat nice to meet you too!

  • spaanem

    Huh, I wasn’t really aware of this trend, but it’s definitely rather creepy. Please don’t tell me your wife is smoking hot unless you want me to look at her in a lustful way, because that is how you’re portraying her to me and I’m not quite holy enough to avoid that temptation yet.

  • MJ

    AMAZINGLY PUT!!!  Thank you, thank you thank you.

  • MarkPeake

    Great stuff and right on the money. But let’s get proactive because this raises a good question: how do you compliment and support your spouse? What’s the best way? It’s important for spouses to know that their partners admire, respect, and support them and see great things in them. How do you do that with out it becoming “demeaning?”

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      MarkPeake obviously, public compliments are wonderful but the way you make them/what you say depends on the context. the jezebel article i linked in the obama reference gives some great ‘rules’ for this sort of thing from a woman’s perspective. but a lot of it is common sense respect, gentleness, and protection for one’s spouse.

    • http://www.amydmartin.wordpress.com/ Amy M

      MarkPeake I think sincerity is not demeaning.  And being called hot by your spouse isn’t inherently demeaning. It’s just that when you add the posturing of doing it in front of other people that it becomes demeaning. As wife it can make you feel a tad like property. I’m sure this isn’t all women, so if in doubt, ask.
      Compliments are good – posturing is bad. A woman can feel “used” if her compliment is meant to make the man look good in front of his friends. Does that make sense?

    • MichelleM

      MarkPeakeAs a woman who truly loves her husband and knows he loves her like crazy back, and a woman that gets these types of comments from a husband who really does mean well, I think it is really important to publicly comment on what you admire and respect about them, but on virtues or actions, not on temporary things like how we look.  Save all the “sexy” comments when you are by yourselves :) :)  I don’t even think these “hot” comments should be made in front of your kids…what kind of message is that sending?!?

    • sometimesalight

      MarkPeake Try this: “I have the greatest respect for her–not just as my wife–but as a believer.” –quoted by a pastor friend at dinner this last weekend.

    • SwayingPalmTree

      MarkPeake Why do all the compliments from men to women have to involve the woman’s physical appearance? 
      I was engaged to a man once, for a few years, and he only complimented me on my face and body, which grew meaningless and totally annoying. The dude never took an interest in my career, my view points, my hobbies, awards I won, etc., never asked my opinions on political topics, etc.

  • http://www.amydmartin.wordpress.com/ Amy M

    Zach!  
    Thank the sky some men are getting out there and actually saying these things. It’s always bugged me. There is so much encouragement of sexual immaturity in Christian culture, and this is just ONE example; grown men encouraging other grown men to talk like junior high boys about the tail they married. You own yerself a good wife, there, God be praised! High fives! It’s gotta be a God thing, except for that one dude, lets pray for him, (how many cliches can I put in one sentence?)

    I’m with your wife on this one – demeaning.
    All past frustrations and overuse of christian cliches aside, I seriously love all this conversation, and the honest it’s bringing out between men and women. It’s so cool to see.  I’m a married woman of 15 years, with three kids who also happens to have lots of guy friends, that I love to pieces.  We have these conversations all of the time. One other big thing that needs to come “out” and be talked about is attraction. Men have so much shame around it – it’s all wrapped up in these issues. Again, shame encouraged by CC. We should unpack that.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Amy M Yes. So with you. You might even need to do a guest post on that topic sometime… :)

      • http://www.amydmartin.wordpress.com/ Amy M

        zachhoag Ooooh, I’d love that. Sign me up. I’m much better at actually getting to writing when I have an assignment and deadline. :)

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Amy M does a month give you enough time? June 1ish? this is so awesome!

        • http://www.amydmartin.wordpress.com/ Amy M

          zachhoag Deal! June 1, on my calendar.

    • AnnSolomon

      @Amy M Yes, and what the all the godly husbands sitting in the pews…faithful loving husbands and fathers whose wives are now showing some “un-smoking hot” signs of bearing all his children, but they loves her deeply just the same. What are they supposed to feel?  Are these comments just encouraging them to be dissatisfied with what they have, and encouraging them to lust?

      • SwayingPalmTree

        AnnSolomon Then you have the never-married Christians sitting there who over are the age of 35, who want to be married and to have sex, but who are trying to wait until marriage for sex. You can imagine the message these sorts of comments sends to us.

      • African Nate

        AnnSolomon And what about all the single women who don’t see themselves as ‘smoking hot’. What message does it give to them?

      • http://www.amydmartin.wordpress.com/ Amy M

        AnnSolomon Exactly – this is another side to all of this. When “smokin hot” is used as a way to value what is essentially becomes a commodity, then everyone has to start judging the value of themselves within that frame.  It’s not healthy for anyone.  The truth is, (since I feel like this is an example of middle-school like immaturity) even hormone-ridden junior high boys are capable of understanding love beyond that kind of shallowness – we just indoctrinate them. And that it happens in the church with the blessing of the culture…ick.
        The kicker is – it’s not only highly disrespectful to women – it’s pretty damned disrespectful to men too, the fact that this is what we think is appropriate behavior for them, that ‘smokin hot’ is numero uno of importance. Balderdash. Men can love deeply too, why would we encourage them not to? Makes no sense. We’re not raising our boys that way. Being not-in-church actually helps.

  • chanana

    Thank you for this post! It puts into words what I often have felt but haven’t always been able to vocalize.
    My own husband often does this, though not as often as when we first got married (and before). I know him, and I know that he values me as a person and not simply for my looks (it would be impossible – I am quite a bit overweight). More often he just tells me that he thinks I’m hot – so many times a day that it just becomes second nature to him. It loses any meaning that it might have ever had, and it is definitely projection. The time we painfully tried to reconcile a sexual sin of his, it made this so much more obvious… please don’t tell me you think I’m so hot then turn around and look for pleasure elsewhere. When you do this, it is so completely obvious to me that you’re lying and projecting your desires, not reality.
    I know a lot of men might think that saying their wives are hot, in public or private, helps to offset their porn habit or other desires, but it just makes it worse. How bad must a wife feel if her husband tells her that she is “hot” – a word that screams big boobs, a perfect butt, and porn star makeup – then he goes and seeks that elsewhere? Even if he believes that to some extent, it’s not a constructive thing; it comes across as a very painful lie. They might be thinking – well, my wife knows I watch porn, I need to show her that I still find her attractive, tell her she’s hot. But that’s not how it works. It places value on a largely inherited characteristic above all other things – and in the process of trying to assuage his wife, he probably starts thinking more about sex and what he really thinks a hot woman looks like and does. It creates its own lusty cycle.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @chanana Thank you so much for sharing this. In a way, I feel like you have put real flesh on the bones of this post – and your experience is probably speaking truth to many others, too. Thanks for expressing your strength through weakness; praying for continued growth and healing in your relationship. You’re awesome.

  • Delphin

    Thank you for a powerful piece of writing. I’m an animal reproductive physiologist and biologist, and when I hear/see that kind of comment, I immediately see it as a classic attempt at one-upmanship. ‘I’m the virile male, look what I can get.’ To other females, it says, you want to be with me, because I’m able to make better babies. To other males, it’s about territorial display. Many animals engage in this, and so do people (don’t believe me? just think about a typical singles night at a bar or elsewhere). When men or women objectify each other like that, we’re reducing our sexual relationships to the level of mere biological function (reproduction), and ignoring our calling from God to sanctify those relationships in Him, as Christ did for the church. What a tragedy that is, that so many who would vociferously object to evolutionary biology, etc., fall right into the trap of behaving in just that way.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Delphin that’s great insight, thank you. i agree wholeheartedly.

  • CarissaHenson

    Love this… Amazing words! Im about to print this off and give to my entire family… inspiring and classy… just what God wants. It wasn’t rude or attacking just clean, clear words of wisdom…Thank you!

  • http://www.eaglesglide.com/ Ps Babette Biddlecombe

    Thank you for sharing.
    It is shameful when leaders (whether men or woman) act in this disturbing wordily way, (like the church at Corinth) and then for the world to see it! Shame on them! It reminds me of when Jesus, as well as Paul spoke to the disciples about being so earthly minded. Its time to grow up boys, and become “heaven” minded! 
    There are just to many immature people in the pulpit these days. Personality should not place you there, the Spirit should and then Christ-like character should keep you there teaching truth, and not ” impressing people by coming down to a worldly level.” No, rather lift up the congregation to become “holy as HE is holy.” “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS (not your own boasting). Flesh begets flesh and Spirit Spirit!
    “What is the worse is that I don’t believe they know the Word, obviously if a man thinks its Okay to sodomize his wife, he is thinking like a pervert. What does the Word say about this, yes, it brings a curse on the union of husband and wife – these are the things that non-believers do, not holy prudish children of God. Again, its because leaders are not spending enough intimate time with God and in His Word that the church is looking so worldly. Non so blind than those that “will not” see. God help us all get back to the foundations of our faith and get back into “eating” of the manner of His Word and not the flesh of the world!
    Perhaps it because there is not enough taught about repentance and “dying to ones selfish nature,” its time to seek after wisdom….that being  the fear of God! Lets fear God and not man and the world – you can have only one master and let that master be the Lord of hosts – Jesus!
    We submit unto one another as unto the Lord, not as unto a persons flesh!
    Galatians 6:8 “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
    Time for the church to rise up in holy fear and begin to pray for a Holy move of God!
    Very disgusted.
    Pastor Babette Du Plessis-Biddlecombe

  • Commenter

    I think it’s used mostly as joking slang among guys, not in a demeaning sense.  It mostly likely started becoming popular after Pastor Joe Nelms opened a NASCAR race with a prayer in which he thanked God for his “smokin’ hot wife.”  Nelms was doing a parody of the infamous Ricky Bobby prayer in Will Ferrell’s film Talladega Nights.  Ricky Bobby, in the movie, gives a similar thanksgiving.  A clip of Nelm’s prayer can be seen here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTXcbcH84oQ. I’m not disagreeing that we should stop talking like this, I’m just informing of the potential origins of where this came from.  It all started as a joke, and I think carries on as a joke, crude as it may be though.  I don’t think calling someone “hot” is meant to be demeaning, but I do find many issues with Nelm’s & Ricky Bobby’s prayer.

    • Rissa

      @Commenter When you JOKE about the body a woman offers to you, and you alone, in a sacred and private space meant for only the pair of you? It IS demeaning. Whether it is meant to be or not.

    • Troy

      @Commenter I don’t think he was doing a “parody”.  He, just like the others the article speaks of, was trying to be hip and relevant.  And yes it’s still demeaning.

  • EricTarge

    Wow! Very Powerful. I am very thankful for this post. To show my cards- I am a complimentarian. But I do see your point in that the church is headed in a dangerous direction when they speak this way about women. I pray that your post will be read by many and that they might consider the damage they do to Christ’s name and to the individual’s that make up his Bride when women are spoken about this way.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      EricTarge thanks eric, i appreciate that.

  • gailwallace55

    All I can say is THANK YOU! It brings tears to my eyes to have a man speak so well about what is in my heart :)

  • Walker41

    Although I might tend to agree with you on the fact that pastors, or anyone, for that matter, should not be saying such things as “My spouse is hot” in public…that doesn’t mean that you need to assume anything about those who do.
    Just because Christian culture might be all about sex-hype does not mean that a Christian couple is about the hype, too – even if they call each other sexy.  This is not to show “that Christians have the best sex ever and it’s holy…”  Maybe that’s what the culture has become, and maybe a lot of mainstream pastors have joined that culture (they usually have to in order to stay current, hip, etc. – another Christian culture problem).  But just because you can give a scathing report on a bunch of pastors, or even plain old lay-person husbands, doesn’t mean that you should jump on the back of every Christian couple everywhere to be sure they don’t call each other “hot.”
    Why do you assume that the husband who says this is obsessive?  And why do you assume that the one who does is obviously lusting and chasing after other women in his heart?  If a wife calls her husband hot, the same must be true, since use of the word “hot” is the only criteria needed.  
    What if his wife requests such comments?  Is her request to be called sexy any different from her request to be called smart and funny?  What happens if a husband asks his wife to call him such things?  Are either of them in the wrong?  People place values on different aspects of themselves, and they expect/want their spouse to have the same values about those same aspects.  
    I don’t like how you say the environment of the conference didn’t allow for such misogynistic comments.  Why does a comment like that automatically go in the misogyny box?  Just because someone get’s called “hot” doesn’t mean they are being objectified.  Let’s not just focus on misogyny, and let’s mention misandry quick.  I understand that a lot of people are trying to help women get power equal to men (all for it).  However, that doesn’t mean that some women don’t have equal or even greater power than some of their spouses do.  Who is coming to that man’s defense? What if he is called hot because his wife is objectifying him, and doesn’t actually care for him?  I understand that your post might have a lot, lot, lot better chance of helping some objectified wife out than some objectified husband, but that doesn’t mean you can bash men only as sexual creatures who hate women and their independence.
    I understand that you think both parties to a marriage might be missing something “beautiful” by doing this, but, even if they are, this comes off as really, really harsh.  I think it’s fine to call attention to such facts, and that paragraph would have been fine by itself, but with everything preceding it, it seems that you’re ready to judge people that consider that closing paragraph and decide that God is okay with them calling each other hot.  
    Quick note: I don’t call my wife hot in public, and never would.  We’re married and have three kids, so people can figure out what we think of each other in that area.  She likes – prefers – being called sexy and hot in the bedroom.  However, if I called her “hot” on FB even one time, instead of just in the bedroom – does that mean I’m a misogynist pig?  I think not.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

      @Walker41 “Let’s not just focus on misogyny, and let’s mention misandry quick.” FINALLY, someone who will speak for The Men!! PTL!!
      it’s objectifying and creepy to publicly focus on a woman’s body, beauty, and sexual desirability–the three things our culture and media emphasize as the places where a woman’s values dwells–not her mind, talent, achievement, kindness, heart, athleticism, work, service–none of that. girls grow up hearing that her worth hinges on her physical body and the state of her hymen–and the Church frequently fails to challenge that narrative. we need to teach and live a better story about sexuality, and bodies, and the imago dei, but public “smokin’ hot wife!” declarations from church leaders are the same pornified cultural story re-packaged as christian dudebro religiosity–and implicitly stamped with God’s approval.
      i’m so grateful that zach is challenging this–especially since it can be easily dismissed when women do.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        suzannah | smitten word PTL – lol. The story you are describing is the one I am desperate for my two daughters experience. So thank YOU.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Walker41 Hey man, two things really quick to build on Suzannah’s comment. First, I’m a dude – so all the dude-defending in your comment feels weird because I’m writing from a dude’s perspective and I get what it’s all about. Second, I’m 9 years married, with two little girls. So I get that whole gig, too.
      Oh wait, third: as mentioned, I used to half-heartedly partake in all the public hot wife talk. SO I GET THAT TOO!
      If you look at the flow of my argument, what I’m basically confronting is the trend for Christian men to posture by publicly going on and on about their hot wives (including pointing out body parts, etc.). I’m confronting that as indicative of an underlying view of women that is, in fact, misogynistic for the reasons I stated. I’m also making a plea – for Christian men to change the way we speak publicly to and about our wives, especially in broadcast media! And all this, because of that “better story” Suzannah is talking about, the narrative that God loves, values, and cherishes women like my two little daughters as precious people made in his image, called to an amazing purpose in the world – and not as a bunch of hotties.
      What I’m saying is, I’m not sure where your pushback is coming from – or where it’s going. What are you defending, exactly?

  • DrewT

    I agree with this post except for the order in which the argument was made. That Christian men are posturing is not as much a concern, to me, as the underlying fact that Christian men are not actively examining the power dynamic of patriarchy that still exists and has always existed since B.C. Dehumanizing women to score more Klout points and earn more attention on social media is just the modern manifestation of a tragic-but-common motif. If Christian men want to truly support their partner/spouse (and this goes for all Christian men, not just evangelicals/nondenominationals) they should share this post far and wide. That’s the only way this worldview will stop permeating all aspects of Christian and non-Christian culture. I realize it is more “safe” to go with the flow and behave this way — but I really hope that the number of women commenting on this post, and the relatively few number of comments from men, doesn’t mean what I think it means — that this post is only resonating with women who are lucky enough to have a supportive partner who would never dream of demeaning their wife this way.

    • Walker41

      @DrewT Why does it mean that it’s demeaning?  Heaven forbid that a wife or husband should ever call the other “hot” or “sexy,” especially in public, as it *definitely* means they are being objectified…right?  And it’s not a worldview thing.  There are many other issues that might fall along the same lines as this argument…rock music, drinking, speaking in tongues.  There is nothing but a few verses that reference such items.  The Bible clearly shows, especially upon the arrival of Jesus on the scene, that women are NOT second class citizens.  They are to be treated as equals, having equal right and priorities.  Although that hasn’t become a reality yet, and I hope it does, the Bible says nothing about whether men or women should even compliment each other on looks.  To judge others based on how you think it’s misogynistic is unsupported by the Bible; you think it devalues a person for them to be called hot.  Fine.  Devaluing a person is definitely wrong and NOT Christian.  But the Bible says nothing about them being devalued in this way.  So, I’d say, that’s for each equally yoked AND equally submissive couple to determine for themselves.

      • SwayingPalmTree

        @Walker41 you said “the Bible says nothing about whether men or women should even compliment each other on looks. ”
        It is offensive to many women. I mentioned this in another post on here, but I’ve noticed that when men do compliment women, 9 time out of 10, it’s about her looks. 
        Men need to stop placing so much emphasis on a woman’s appearance. Why not compliment a woman on her skills, talents, career accomplishments, sense of humor, etc? 
        I was engaged to a guy who constantly told me in private how beautiful I was, what a looker I was – and it was annoying, sexist, and after you’ve heard it 100 times a day over several years, it loses all significance – and I told the dolt all this, but he still kept it up. 
        BTW, something does not have to be specifically spelled out as wrong in the Bible to be a sin. I don’t think the Bible specifically mentions abortion or internet pr0n, but somehow, I don’t think God approves of either one.
        Women are already under enough pressure to remain perpetually youthful and stick thin from secular culture without so called Christian husbands and preachers going around in videos or public telling all and sundry how “smokin’ hot” their wives are.

        • rbfjustrules

          SwayingPalmTree There are people who think that those things (abortion, pornography) are acceptable because the Bible does not mention them specifically.  I know that the Bible does not need to specifically spell something out for it to be a sin; this is why there is both apodictic and casuistic law in the OT.  Apodictic, specific “Do” or “Do not” statements, vs. casuistic, examples of what may or may not occur in a certain case, leaving the reader to interpret how similar situations (e.g. death of a bull at a neighbor’s hands) should be handled.
          By using your argument, even with abortion and pornography, you’ve made them apodictic.  Which I think is right in this case.  But my telling people that are doing/have done those things that they are wrong is likely to not cause change.  The only thing that causes change is understanding, and the movement of the Holy Spirit on someone’s heart.  Judging anyone for anything ever is something that the Pharisees did it all the time, and those were the only people that Jesus ever yelled at besides the money-changers in the temple.  He didn’t want people a) beaten down, and b) taken advantage of.  To judge someone, and let them know you have, is to be a modern-day Pharisee.  His gospel was not just about getting to heaven; it was also about social justice, as evidenced by the stance of Jesus towards women and children, who were both looked as second-class or zero-class citizens by men during that time.
          From CS Lewis and Mere Christianity, regarding temperence, which applies to the “hot” issue:
          “…the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying.  One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up.  That is not the Christian way.  An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons – marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”
          Look.  We all (or a lot of us) know/think that abortion is wrong.  That’s a different kind of issue.  The Bible clearly says “Thou shalt not kill.”  Abortion is killing; even though that’s the case, we do not have any – ANY – right to judge one who has had an abortion.  Our job is to try to love people out of such an act, not yell/fight them out of it.  However, regarding this issue of saying “hot” – the Bible has Jesus saying that if you lust after another woman in your heart then you have already committed adultery.  Even if I give that verse to you, you automatically seem to assume that a husband (or wife) is lusting after their spouse when calling them hot.  Pharisaical.  I’m rather offended by this whole post, because I’m being called a sinner for calling my wife hot once every blue moon.  If this were my church, I’d express my distaste for the argument.  And if I were told outright that I was not respecting my wife, or that she wasn’t respecting herself, or the flipside (she calls me hot, too) – I’d be done.  The world judges me enough as a Christian; I don’t need other Christians passing judgement on me when the Bible clearly says not to.  If I’m actually wrong – watching pornography, for instance – let me know.  Would welcome the wake up call and need for change.  But if I call my wife hot, you have no place here.
          The one place where this argument of mine doesn’t apply, I think, is with calling one’s spouse hot in public.  Why?  For the same reason that I, though I’m okay with drinking, should not drink with someone who has issues with drunkenness.  To call my wife hot in front of others would likely make those people uncomfortable, and I should avoid it at those times.  Saw one comment on here about bringing a “hot dish” when the church was 80% women.  Insensitive, crazy, stupid pastor.  But tell him that.  Don’t judge the fool; just tell him he was one.  The sign of whether he really is a fool is whether he uses that moment to change or not.

  • CelinaGonzalesSisk

    THANK YOU!! As a woman I just want to thank you for this truly empathetic post. The “smokin hot” lingo is what makes me insecure as a woman to stand at the front and share, despite places that may be welcoming of women. I feel insecure about having a womans body because like one of the pastors said he was staring at his wifes butt instead of looking at her face. It’s not fair. I hate feeling like I can’t be comfortable in the body God gave me because our culture is sexualized to the point that it’s unhealthy. I had to deal with this BS in high school, I’m so over it. I obviously need to get over my insecurity and realize I can’t control men’s thoughts but I think it’s time we cut the sex talks in church. It’s unnecessary and you can’t find anything in the new testament going into detail about the marriage bed. Which I believe is a sign that we don’t need books and sermon series on this. IF you are someone who needs that, then odds are you need counseling as well, which is a much better forum to discuss sexual issues. Sorry my rant is over. Thank you again!!

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      CelinaGonzalesSisk boom!

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  • AnnSolomon

    Thankyou for this great post. I pastor I respected used to use the comment whenever he was organising a meal gathering. “Bring a hot dish……other than your wife!” One day he used the comment when his church was filled with 80% women!!In my eyes the comment was completely disrespectful of those present. I felt the atmosphere in the room change from a holy spiritual worship presence to sexualization. I left the church.

    • SwayingPalmTree

      AnnSolomon I would’ve confronted the pastor and told him. 
      And what of any un-married males in the room when he said that, what sort of impact might that have had on them? Preachers need to remember that not every one in their congregation is married with kids. Some of us are over 35, have never married, and have never had kids (and no, we’re not homosexual, we don’t hate the opposite gender, etc).

  • Katherine Bennett

    I think that it’s important to clarify that having a negative reaction to this kind of talk is not a question of being a prude. It’s about reducing the value of one’s partner to a “nice Christian piece of tail”. When a man describes his wife in these terms, he is asking the world to evaluate her by these standards. His obvious pride in being the “sole possessor” of all the fruits of her hotness is completely at odds with what one would hope to see: an appreciation for her as a partner on multiple levels. What may seem like a somewhat juvenile compliment is something far more creepy. It’s a chest thumping reduction of a fellow human being (his own wife) to being an accessory that props up Christian alpha male street cred. If it wasn’t so sad, it would just be strangely ridiculous.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Katherine Bennett Great insight, Katherine.

    • MusicTVComedy

      Katherine Bennett Yes! Your visual puts a face to this kind of talk/behavior. Thanks.

  • LXSMom

    Ephesians 5:3-5 “[...]let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” Isn’t joking about your wife’s “butt” coarse jesting? And this isn’t foolish talk? And putting your wife “out there” on display as some kind of trophy possibly could entice other men to look upon her with lust, which is also a sin.
    Esther 1:10 “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs.”
    Sounds as though this repulsive practice isn’t new, but let’s remember that Ahasuerus was not a Christian, as these other pastors are supposed to be. And their wives should think carefully about whether they should look at Vashti for doing the right thing (even if it led to consequences for her). Maintain your dignity, ladies, you are not entertainment, or an object, to be displayed for other men to leer at.

  • Rozie

    This post is amazing and so true.. the thing is aswell, when a guy says these things he’s hardly even complimenting his wife because from my experience, it’s usually the kind of guy who is known for being proud or materialistic in some way, and really all he’s saying is “look what I can get.. look how this reflects me/upholds my reputation”. Not to mention how in doing so he’s basically reinforcing the most impressive thing about her is her image/sexuality and therefore putting immense pressure on her to always be attractive, or associate her self-worth as image related. Honestly, when I see posts like that I kind of think to myself, just get a life! I know that sounds awful but it’s true.. I find it hard to respect a man who, even after years of marriage and getting to know every part of his wife, can only find enough words to comment on her body to outsiders. Compliments are great, but not when it’s for an audience. The last comment about water to both your souls is spot on!

  • Jon

    Thanks for exposing what may be true sex addiction, parading itself in a self-justifying version of Christian-speak. Lust is lust, even in marriage.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    This is just like High School with the Quarterback and his Smokin Hawt Cheerleader; the Alpha Male parading his Alpha Female before all the Beta to Omega Males and rubbing their faces in it.  I GOT HER AND YOU DONT! HAW! HAW! HAW!

  • katehanch

    thanks for this! as a woman who loves theology and the church, these types of comments are isolating and disappointing. it is hard to talk theology with someone who doesn’t take you seriously. I’m glad you’ve celebrated women’s  gifts in all roles of the church!

  • JessicaLaporte

    Another great commentary Zach. Thank you for calling out places where the Body can grow in a constructive way. I pray that God would continue to fill you with all wisdom and understanding that you would teach in action and word in all areas of your life. Burlington is blessed to have you and your wife there to serve and preach.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      JessicaLaporte thanks for your prayers Jess, so encouraging. Hope to see you sometime in the near future.

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  • Andrew Wymer

    Thanks, Zach.  I do not know you, but after reading this, I look forward to meeting you at some juncture.  The devaluation and oppression of women is the primary and obvious problem here, and I do not want to detract from it.  However, the sinister slightly less visible underbelly of this is an understanding of maleness which allows for, expects, and even rewards such dehumanizing and abusive behavior.  Evidently males are expected to be, even allegedly biblically modeled, as arrogant, brash, condescending “leaders” such as those you’ve detalied, or, as others have indicated, perhaps these males feel incredibly insecure as men, which I would argue cannot be separated from their Complementarian theology.  (By no means is this a means of universally critiquing Complementarianism.)  On a case by case basis, this leaves one to wonder if the insecurity is caused by excessive, unbalanced power within a committed relationship that is unnatural, unbiblical, and even verging on the inhumane.  (As a male who used to live in a Complementarian world, I always felt inadequate to the expectations of maleness.)  I obviously do not buy into the Complementarian model, but, even if I did, I would expect “leadership” to be a position or act of humble service in which objectifying, dehumanizing, brash, and disrespectful behavior were completely out of place.  This is not “leadership” in any Jesus-like way.  It is self-serving abuse and oppression.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Andrew Wymer definitely hope we get to meet at some point! I cannot express enough agreement with your thoughts here – my wife and I experienced a lot of this during our time in a neo-reformed church. so, amen.

    • LibertyMama15

      @Andrew Wymer I totally agree that this tendency to posture about women’s hotness has a lot to do with insecurity. Perhaps it also has to do with men falling prey to what our culture dictates a “real man’ to be (sexually aggressive, powerful, in charge, etc.) rather than looking at Christ’s example of manhood. The two are often at odds. Our culture says that the sum of a man’s existance is essentially his sexuality and men who are more than that, or deny themselves in that way, or actually just aren’t as licentious as his peers, is somehow less of a man. And that is sad. Being a sex addict isn’t manhood. Personally, as a wife, I enjoy  a beautiful and well-rounded relationship with my husband. We enjoy the marriage bed. But we also enjoy other things together, prayer, Bible study, intellectual pursuits, etc. And isn’t that a better, fuller picture of what a Christian marriage is supposed to be – harmonious, knit together? We are to become one flesh, but also one spirit and one mind. And too often our Christian culture hones in on a married couple being one flesh. But that’s only part of the story.

  • Ebass

    After reading the article and the comments beneath it appears to me that you are clearly judging these pastors.
    In my opinion what these pastors are saying about their wives is a little ridiculous but overall they are totally doing awesome stuff for the kingdom of God. If they are “off” in this area they’ve got Holy Spirit to correct them.    The overwhelming majority of what these guys are doing is positive and it’s just too easy to pick off the stuff you don’t “like” from afar.  Let’s lift up the pastors and pray that God continues to transform them and they don’t mess up in stuff that really matters.  
    I really can’t figure out the intent behind your post…  Are you trying to incite our evangelical masses to revolt against these pastors? Why post this?  To expose these men for who they really are?  It’s just absurd. If you have such a big problem that it causes you to post a blog about it why not instead reach out to these guys?  If you were in relationship with them you could talk through it with them but I’m pretty sure you’ve just alienated them with this one-sided post. 
    If we have Jesus then we have the power of the holy spirit inside of us. We are each responsible for our own thoughts, actions.  What anyone does, including a pastor, really doesn’t matter. If people place pastors on such a pedestal that this verbiage truly and fundamentally affects them then they are misled already.
    To sum it up:  Without context, you have unfairly cast your proverbial stone toward your brothers. Our Brothers.

    • JustinKeys

      @Ebass 
      Galatians 6:1
      “My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too.”

      • heallen

        JustinKeys how is writing and gossiping about them on the internet “setting them straight”?

    • micahjmurray

      @Ebass “What anyone does, including a pastor, really doesn’t matter.”
      This is probably the most untrue thing I’ve read all day. Keep in mind, I’ve spent all day reading comments sections on blogs, and this right here is till the most untrue thing I’ve read all day.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Ebass no, I’m just offering criticism based on experience in defense of women who are absolutely being mistreated and oppressed. Frankly, I care WAY more about how my sisters in Jesus are being treated than whether I ticked off a pastor somewhere.

      • Shana McCann

        zachhoag “Frankly, I care WAY more about how my sisters in Jesus are being treated than whether I ticked off a pastor somewhere.”
        Can I get an Amen?! AMEN!!

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Shana McCann HI SHANA!!! And thanks :).

  • http://sarasstilllaughing.blogspot.com/ sara

    Thanks so much for this.  I don’t think you sound like a fundie at all.  I think you sound like a man who respects women, and appreciate you saying what you said.

    • http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/ kristen howerton

      Yeah . . . I don’t you sound like a fundie either. I think you sound like a feminist. And I mean that in the very best way.

      • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

        kristen howerton thanks kristen, makes me happy to hear that :).

  • nofootnotes

    In my opinion it is also a way of eliminating vulnerability. Pastors often have this problem, because we want to look up to them for guidance. So (and I think this post is pointing this out) pastors can say I have found a way to never have problems with sex. My wife hasn’t problems with sex or bodyimage either! We have a perfect marriage and are happy all the time. Pastors as a commercial for faith.

  • AnnSolomon

    I think the main point is this…Pastors are there to teach and demonstrate the christian expectation of healthy marriage and sexual relations with marriage. These brash Pastors are bringing about the “sexualization of the church”, and the damage this causes is wide including the oppression of women. We all experience unwanted sexualization enough in the wider culture from the heavy sexual images forced on us by the beauty & music industry etc. Why would non-christians really want to come to church if it isn’t any different from what they already know?

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      AnnSolomon good point, Ann :).

  • ChuckJo08229083

    I agree by and large.  It’s important to keep in mind that even when well meaning, comments may hurt, marginalize, and demean others. Here’s my slight pushback
    Some of the criticism against the public “smokin’ hot” statements seems to revolve around that fact that the statements suggest that physical beauty is the wife’s most notable/important attribute and downplays her achievements and other aspects of her character, which of course is belittling. I’d argue however that this might be a misinterpretation. I would describe my wife as smoking hot because she’s intelligent, because she’s kind, because she’s caring, because she warm and lively, because she’s spiritual and (I could go on and on but I think you get the point) which is why I have no doubt that I’ll find my wife smoking hot 30 years from now. Now I’ll concede that it’s unrealistic to expect a listener to know specifically the reasons i find my wife hot without me laying them out, and since the term typically refers to physical attractiveness so it’s best to probably avoid the term as the sole adjective used when describing her. I just wanted to make the case that men who frequently refer to their wives as hot may not be reducing them to ornaments. Posting a picture of your wife’s rack on Instagram is less defensible.
    I do, however, think there’s a place for taking unabashed public joy in your relationship.  Certainly there’s a place for intimacy. However I like seeing couples in the church that are clearly in love and attracted to each other and enjoy being husband and wife. I don’t think compliments even “sexy compliments” need to be regulated to behind closed doors. Now obviously, time and place need to be considered, it’s important to understand what message you may be sending, how your spouse feels about it, and how the listeners will interpret what you are saying. Context always matters. But a blanket rule saying always avoid making statements in public letting people know that you’re sexually attracted to your spouse is a step too far I my opinion. (And yes I know that you proposed no such rule).

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      ChuckJo08229083 thanks for the pushback bro. i do think, though, that the personal plea at the end of the post needs to be taken in light of the cultural plea throughout. namely, even where Christian husbands are genuinely loving their wives and making “hot” comments in public, they are participating in a Christian culture that sends a clear message that women are subservient to men, valuable mainly because of their physical attractiveness (song of solomon sermons), not fully human before God and the church (can’t preach/pastor), etc. The Jezebel article I linked has a great scenario – what would it feel like for men to live in a culture where women were in positions of power and constantly telling us/tweeting, “Really filling out those pants today, Jerry” or some such remark? 
      Answer: not good.

      • From the Godless NE

        zachhoag ChuckJo08229083 I linked to this late, but that “really filling out those pants” example made me laugh out loud because it would be so ridiculous.  Good way to illustrate that the “smokin’ hot” comments are really not socially acceptably behavior, no matter what your religion.

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  • LisaColonDelay

    Great stuff here. sweet to read it.
    How many times Jesus objectify the women close to him? zero. 
    I guess that serves as a good example.

    (Another problem with the “smoking hot wife”  stuff…with seems at first like a compliment, flattery, or some pro-monogamy statement perhaps….is that it doesn’t translate…”
    Objectification is to de-humanize someone, even if it sounds like a compliant first.
    and plus What’s the proper respond to this peacocking ? “Yeah, dude, she’s smokin’ hot…I’d do her…er …no ..you would…oh, gosh, never mind”  CONVERSATION ENDER, am I right?)

    • AnnSolomon

      LisaColonDelay Precisely LOL. And I have no need to unnecessarily have my mind taken to my Pastor’s bed…..thankyou very much.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    PoetAndPriest “I’m not at all ‘plugged in…don’t really know what they say…haven’t the foggiest notion…” Right.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      PoetAndPriest I appreciate the point, and I might not disagree. BUT, that’s not the argument I’m making. The argument I’m making addresses the personal/relational scenario at the end in light of the (Christian) cultural reality throughout. Which you are not plugged into. So, I understand that you’re not understanding/disagreeing with the significance of this.
      Again, appreciate the comment. Thanks.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      PoetAndPriest woops, looks like i’m talking to my self all of a sudden.

  • Charming

    I concur with what you are saying, labeling your wife or your spouse as “smoking hot” is a matter between husband and wife only.  My thought as I read this article is what if my pastor started talking about his wife as “smoking hot.”, that would not give me a more Godly view of him. I would also think of what is the purpose of telling us that his wife is “smoking hot”. As my children would say, TMI-too much information.

  • http://coachingforleaders.com/ Dave Stachowiak

    Awesome article – don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been said.
    Thanks for articulating this so well.

  • Witl

    Meh. I’m sure this is all true in some cases, and in some cases it’s not. Is that a revolutionary response? No? Rats.
    It mostly makes me stop and wonder, have I been objectifying my husband by staring at his butt all the time and making facebook posts about how sexy he is? I don’t think so, and he doesn’t either. I certainly don’t feel like I’m objectified when he calls me hot. Sometimes I read a really good book and I just want to tell people about it. I don’t want to give them my copy of the book, I’m just excited and I want to share. I don’t want to share my husband, but I do just get really happy and excited about his effect on me, and I want to shout it from today’s equivalent from rooftops, which is social media. Just ’cause I’m excited about his hotness.
    I guess you can go for the more conservative, ‘if it’s not absolutely necessary to say, don’t say it’ approach. I prefer the more permissive, ‘if there’s nothing particularly wrong with saying it, hey, go for it.’ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being astounded, every day, that my husband is so amazingly attractive. If it was all I talked about it might be a problem, but for us it’s not. That doesn’t erase the problematic elements that you discuss, which are definitely real and valid, just not the only thing going on in every case.

  • Jeannie Armstrong

    Well said!

  • mommajlee

    This might be all WWJD but, I am pretty sure God wouldn’t refer to me as a smokin’ hot woman. “I created ‘this Smokin Hot’ woman and she is good” 
    I mean, I could be way off base here but… ;)

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  • Rae

    One thing that I haven’t seen many people mention yet is how this makes a lot of the women in the congregation feel – maybe it’s just where I am, in SoCal, but a lot of these men who say they have “smokin’ hot” wives do, in fact, have wives who are very pretty.
    So, sitting in the congregation, we’re hearing that even these supposedly “Godly” Christian men apparently do value sex appeal highly, and how much that we measure up to our culture’s feminine beauty ideal. And it really, really hurts when you’re someone who doesn’t, and probably never will, look half as good as the women they praise for being “smokin’ hot.” And since I’m not too far gone from that point, I can also imagine how hurtful and confusing it must feel to be a teenage girl who’s not only feeling all of that, but also hearing stuff about modesty, and how your ideal future husband should call you “beautiful” instead of “sexy”, yet here’s the pastor or worship leader or whoever, who’s considered a “good Christian” enough to be on stage praying, exhibiting the exact opposite kind of behaviour.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Rae great point, thanks.

    • Laurie

      @Rae I agree. We need to remember that Proverbs 31 is written as advise to a son from his mother. It doesn’t only portray what women should aspire to be. It portrays what men should look for in a wife and what should be praised and in a women, “A wife of noble character … “, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord should be praised.”

  • http://www.lifeunhindered.com/ cbowar

    I am a missionary working in United States over the issue of Human Trafficking and the more I work with this issue the more I become aware of the gender discrimination which perpetuates it. I would never have considered myself a feminist, but here I go. I do agree with what you’re putting forward about objectification, the church, and the role of women in the marriage relationship with respect to the church. I am a woman, and I enjoy being beautiful, I enjoy glorifying God in that way. But being beautiful is such a part of women’s identity that taking our identity and making it something that is defined by male sexuality is, at it’s core, demeaning because we stop being defined by God and become defined by sex. It makes the purpose of our identity in the body of Christ about men, and not God’s mission for us and our lives. It’s kind of embarrassing that men in the church, who ought to be leading the way in our culture of equality and value of women, are buying into the sexuality of a culture which says the highest value of women is sex or sexual appeal. And when the view of women is continually being framed in a sexual light our identity as women is attacked further because we’re no longer raised in a church culture that expects us to fulfill the potential that God has given us on mission for him. Instead we are supposed to fulfill the object that is glorified by the men in the culture . 
    On one hand I agree with you when you say that in a culture (church or otherwise) where women are given authority to be preachers, teachers, apostles…etc. the sexualization of their roles can’t happen. But I also think that the mindset of men about women and the role of women in church won’t change without an intentional decision on the part of leaders (mostly men) to avoid the sexual innuendo, connotation, etc. and intentionally frame the role of women in a light that encourages them to take on the calling God has on their lives.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @cbowar absolutely. it’s a culture thing! we have to look about both the overt and covert ways in which women are being suppressed in church culture – and specifically, the way that we are using sexuality as a means of dominating or ostracizing. “we become defined by sex and not by God” – Great comment!

    • AnnSolomon

      @cbowar Hi cbowar Are you on facebook? My daughter and I are interested in the issue of human trafficking. She is at uni now and has decided to train so she can help in some way. I would love to hear more from you.

      • http://www.lifeunhindered.com/ cbowar

        AnnSolomon Yes, you can find me as Charissa Bowar on Facebook. the organization I work with is called FREE International check out http://www.freeinternational.org. Hit me up on facebook and we can talk more about how to go about getting involved.

        • AnnSolomon

          @cbowar AnnSolomon thankyou!! I have passed your name onto my daughter and I’ve “liked” the freeinternational page on facebook. Will have a look through it. Richest blessings to you in your work, Ann

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  • stephroll

    love. love. love this post. As the adult daughter of a woman who has been trailblazing the apostolic and pastoral for women, I am tired of seeing her and other excellent and mighty women pushed aside for the “main show”. I can’t like this post enough! 
    I especially love your last line, because I consider myself a “fundie” christian. I BELIEVE the Bible, every word (it’s not just guidance for good people) I believe in Jesus and His resurrection, but I can’t relate to other christians who don’t understand that certain parts of the Bible have been misused and misappropriated to say something God was never trying to say. And then, I don’t relate well to people who are wishy washy about the word and God, doing what “feels” right in their own eyes. (woops, sorry about the rabbit trail).
    Anyway… :) Great article, would like to share it but the direct reference to Mark Driscolls, ahem, “beliefs” prohibit me from doing so. Could you hyperlink that one section so that someone has to click through to read more about his proclivities? I am afraid that anyone I shared it with would be so shocked to see that, they would miss the rest of your wonderful post.
    Thanks so much for this!

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @stephroll thanks Steph, agreed. as for the driscoll bit, might be too late now to edit, but feel free to cut and paste the article in an email and delete that line :).

      • stephroll

        zachhoag thanks for the suggestion-I wanted to share it on FB, but I can c&c and provide the link back for anyone who wants to read more.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @stephroll cool, thanks!

  • J Carver

    I know I’m late to the party. It’s been a busy week.
    This post has generated some amazing conversation. It has also triggered a thought process and conversation with my wife that may not have happened had you not shined the spotlight on this issue. So thank you for that.
    Though I was never one of the guys who hopped on the smokin’ hot train my wife and I spent many years in an extremely misogynistic community. We were told loudly and often that women were the root cause of every problem the world has ever known. It was not uncommon for wives to be shouted down by their husbands in public for an act of disobedience. I once told my wife to go wait for me in the car for asking me to leave our Pastors house before I was ready (it was like 1 a.m.). Typing that produces so many powerful emotions in me that I cringe when I share it. Probably the greatest of which being overwhelming shame.   
    This issue here is not so much a man celebrating his wife’s beauty or hotness publicly. I find my wife very attractive and she feels loved when I express that. But in the faith communities where this is prevalent it is as if these woman are being told that if they submit to their husbands rule and give them all the bed shaking sex they desire they will reward them publicly with the smokin hot wife label. It isn’t a celebration of her beauty and feminine heart it an expression that flows out of a corrupt and violent worldview that men have been given dominion over all things in the world and everything exists to serve them. 
    It is not wrong for a husbands to love, cherish, submit to, adore, respect his wife. Their are men who have loved their wives this way and have used this language (and probably shouldn’t for the sake of associaiton) but the target here is a very large and vocal sect of our faith who preach that the ideal woman is a submissive, quiet, live in house maid/sex slave and who believe they are good husbands because they reward her with a credit card and a shout out.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      J Carver Thanks for sharing your story, man.

  • LXSMom

    J Carver “We were told loudly and often that women were the root cause of every problem the world has ever known.”
    I am tired of their poison: it’s women’s fault for being beaten by their husbands-they only get beaten when they are trying to “rise up against their’s husband’s authority.” Every divorce is a failure of the woman to submit enough. Rape is women’s fault, because they dress provocatively. Every social evil is women’s fault, because they left the homes to work. Even the rise in women’s breast cancer is our fault, because breast cancer is caused by delayed childbirth, abortion, and birth control pills (ignoring that men’s breast cancers are also on the rise).
    I’m so happy to discover men fighting this. When I confront “men” who espouse these theories, with scripture that contradicts everything they say, I am a “Jezebel,” etc. One man called me “anti-Bible, anti-Jesus, anti-family, a spreader of Satan’s lies.”

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      LXSMom that’s just painful to read. sorry for your experience. thank you for commenting.

      • LXSMom

        zachhoag LXSMom 
        Rick Warren came out and said that a battered woman was not allowed to leave or divorce her abusive husband. In the ensuing cries, he backpedaled and said a woman could leave her husband physically “in the heat of the moment,” (as if a man so crazed that he is beating his one-flesh partner whom he is supposed to honor and sacrifice his own life for would allow her to walk out on the beating) but must return when things have “cooled” and submit to his authority. At no time have I seen him following up with a statement, “Men, you cannot beat your wives for any reason. It is a sin and a crime.”

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  • JAy

    I have no problem with a man complimenting his wife.  I have no problem with a woman complimenting her husband.  But there is a time and a place for compliments to be made, and the compliments need to be in context.  If you want to talk about the great things your spouse is doing for the church, at a secular job, in the kitchen, in the garage, or on an athletic field, that is great.  But then a “smokin’ hot” comment isn’t appropriate (unless the spouse is posing/posturing/flouting appearance, which may indicate a different problem).
    If I am talking with my friends about our marriages, a “smoking hot” comment may be applicable.  If I am broadcasting something to the public, it probably isn’t.  And if I admit that the “smoking hotness” of my wife is distracting me from some other activity (as in the new member meeting example you cite in the article), then I have real issues that need to be addressed.

    And for the record, I have a smoking intelligent wife, which is far more valuable in all aspects of our relationship than her hotness.

  • http://1timothy112.tumblr.com/ Suzanne

    thanks for being a man and writing this. i’d rather be a hundred other things before i am hot. and i’d rather my husband appreciate me for those hundred other things before he appreciates me for how i look. i just am very skeptical about why any woman filled with the Holy Spirit would feel the desire/need to be considered “smoking hot” by anyone. i actually wrote about it (as a single Christian lady) on my blog. http://1timothy112.tumblr.com/post/38926553456/heres-the-thing (shameless plug/addition to the conversation.) i agree that we need to think about the feelings and insecurities and motives behind these comments.

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  • LXSMom
    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      LXSMom saw it last night – honored to be mentioned by elizabeth! great post, too :).

  • http://shadowwonder.blogspot.com/ shadowwonder

    Interesting commentary here; thanks for sharing it. 
    I’ve seen this kind of banter going both ways (husband to wife, and vice-versa); regardless of who’s doing the talking (or tweeting), it always strikes me as one more example of how we evangelicals try so very, very hard to be cool, relevant, hip, or whatever other positive adjective you want to use.

    Maybe it’s just me, but authenticity (even the quiet kind) is just so much more convincing.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @shadowwonder good word.

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  • Stevews29

    I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s still something about this that makes me uncomfortable. It’s almost a progressive slant on the sort of legalistic denial of the body and sexuality that conservative Christianity has given us for years. Are some of these pastors embarrassing, tacky, and over-emphasizing physical attractiveness? Absolutely. Do we have a problem with objectifying women in the Church? Of course. The solution, however, is not to swing the pendulum back in the opposite direction, where any celebration of sexual pleasure is considered demeaning and sinful. That’s just another form of oppression. It’s a pretty big leap to connect a man publicly remarking on his wife’s “hotness” with misogyny. I’m not saying there’s never a correlation, but there’s certainly not always one.
    I think the problem is that the Church, males in particular, tend to adopt conventional, patriarchal standards of sexuality and beauty. Modern, “secular” standards of beauty tend to be objectifying, and we adopt these too quickly. Women do it, too, to each themselves and each other. I think the Church can model a more holistic, embodied approach to sexuality and beauty. Just because a few pastors come across like adolescents doesn’t mean that we should ditch the Church’s excitement about sexuality. It just needs to be more mature. But Christians have been quiet about sexuality for too long. If we don’t talk about it, other people will, and they will do it in far more damaging ways than some guy calling his wife hot. Just because we need to get better at this doesn’t mean we need to shut up about it. Let’s try to live in the tension of growth instead of making more rules, for a change.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Stevews29 Hi Steve, I think comments like this represent something of an impasse in the conversation. You are trying to balance out what you feel is an extreme message in the post, and I hear your argument; I just don’t think you are really hearing mine. And that’s because nowhere in your comment are you attempting to interact empathetically with women who are a part of this evangelical church culture (many of whom have commented here). Instead, you rush quickly to a (completely different) topic of demonizing the body/sexual pleasure which, again, is not the message of the post – not even close. Quite the contrary.
      So, not sure where to go from here. Ideas?

      • Stevews29

        Yes, I am trying to balance an extreme message. I don’t see how that’s an impasse. Balance and recognition of complexity is too often missing in these kind of discussions. I don’t think it’s an impasse to add more layers. And if you think that your post has nothing to do with embodiment or sexual pleasure, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe that’s not what you meant to write about, but you are. Telling people to share the sacredness of sexy compliments in SECRET has an implicit but powerful message. As I said, these pastors might be doing a bad job of talking about sex, but your post could certainly be taken as an admonition to keep quiet about anything that’s too sexual.  Whether that was your intention or not, the Church has had too many problems in that domain for there not to be little bit of balance. I didn’t see it in your post, so I thought it worth mentioning. 
        Educating a well-meaning guy about how to better communicate about these things publicly? I’m all for it. Calingl him a misogynist for publicly saying his wife hot? He’s going to hear you telling him his sexual feelings are bad, whether you mean to or not. So, yeah, balance.
        As for me not being empathetic, honestly man, that just feels like a low blow. Look at my 3rd – 5th sentence. I get it.  
        Speaking of empathy, you were pretty blithe about dismissing the feelings of any woman who enjoys these kind of compliments, publicly or otherwise. You basically accused her of lacking insight and cheapening herself. “You might think you’re an exception . . .” Really?I think it is awesome that you brought this issue to light for women who feel demeaned, but it sucks that you told the rest of them that they don’t really understand why they like the compliments, but you do. Isn’t that just another way of defining a woman’s identity and worth for her? From another man, no less.
        This sounds way more snippy than I meant for it to. This is an important topic and I’m glad your brought it up. I just think you could refine your message. IDK, maybe guys, including me, shouldn’t be the ones writing about this stuff.

        • LXSMom

          Stevews29 
          As a woman, I find locker room talk in a church inappropriate regardless of the context. And yes, there are some things that are meant to be kept between a wife and her husband, not a wife and her husband and their congregation. I doubt any woman wants to hear her husband talking about her butt in front of other people in public. Compliment her overall beauty? Sure, yes, please. Compliment my good heart, my devotion to be being a good wife and mother? PLEASE. Reduce me to a sexual object? No.
          The bottom line is, if we wouldn’t hear it out of Jesus’ mouth, we shouldn’t hear it out of the mouths of those who represent Jesus.

  • https://www.facebook.com/wefaithfullyinsist Bryan

    I don’t know you, but I like you.  I look forward to reading more.  and thank you for this post.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Bryan thanks Brian!

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  • Anon

    Great post Zach. As a christian survivor of domestic abuse (incl sexual abuse) i find this kind of talk offensive at best.  The world objectify’s women, reducing them to mere sexual objects who exist to gratify men.  I can see no difference in what these guys are doing. It sickens me.

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  • Jeanne S

    I agree with you Zach. Although, the Evangelical’s have for too long relegated sex as something to never mention and almost dirty, which has caused undue pain and misery. Now, some of them are turning sexuality into a “pissing contest”, or other measurements I won’t mention. It still comes to looking at women as less than an equal and a commodity or chattel in which to compare who is “hotter”, thereby boosting their ego’s, and is ultimately disrespectful. What’s next? They’ll be comparing cup sizes of their wives. Part and parcel to a patriarchial view of women as something to service men.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Jeanne S yeah. and i’ve mentioned this before but the solution here is not to stop talking about sex in the church community. instead, it’s to talk about it openly and respectfully with equality as the guiding principle, not perpetuating that patriarchal view you mention.

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  • Heather Sherwood McGhee

    This is amazing!

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Heather Sherwood McGhee thanks Heather!

  • Nina

    Thank you thank you thank you for referring to women as *people*. Very healing post for this sister to read.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    @Nina You’re welcome, Nina. I’m very glad to hear it.

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  • Bob

    The fact is, if these wives didn’t consider it to be a compliment, it wouldn’t be repeated.

    • http://zhoag.com Zach

      Bob, I disagree with ya there.

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  • Ben Neumann

    I’m not a pastor, and I don’t attend a church where some of those things are said or posted online, though I’m not oblivious to it either. Interesting post with some very good points. A little bothered by this bit here, though:

    “But here’s what’s really going on, most of the time. Mostly, guys blabbing about this stuff are just posturing. They are publicly asserting that they are in fact one of the (Christian) guys, the ones with the power, the ones with the penii (is that the correct plural form?). They are showing that they have a dominant gender role in the home and church, given to them by God, and by golly they are going to tweet compliments about their wives, using the words of drunk 19 year old fraternity brothers. And mostly, they are overcompensating because this Christian culture obsession with sex has got them thinking lustfully and, probably, not always about their wives of x years but other women more appealing to them in the teenage kneejerk visual stimulation sense.”

    You’re obviously getting a lot of applause on this soapbox from women, and I agree with you that some of those tweets and things said should be reserved for the home, but this is judging. It sounds good, it’s witty, but it lacks. It’s a sweeping generalization to the pastor who says his wife is hot or smashing or whatever with no other intention than to affirm her and not posture himself. Not all pastors who use a culturally relevant phrase to describe their wife are self-posturing alpha-males.

    To connect an arguably inappropriate tweet to conclude that pastors have been “thinking lustfully” and of women more appealing…eh boy, this needs some work, unless you yourself are devoid of sexual imperfections and cultural influence. I would sure assume (and hope) they look at their wives in sexual ways. The tweets we can do without, but how about we assume they’re in love with their godly wife and are excited to look at her and make love to her as an expression of that, and not necessarily as a result of cultural teenie-bopper influence or wanting to show off to the rest of the pack? Charitable assumption; make your point about the tweets, but don’t take it this far into assertion of what’s really going on in their heart.

    Anyways, some very good points. Obviously it’s been received well by a lot of folks. And on some points rightfully so; we can never hear enough of what it means to be made in the image of God as different sexes. But my take away, generally speaking, was it came not without a heavy does of sarcasm and ungracious assumption.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      “You’re obviously getting a lot of applause on this soapbox from women…”

      Ben, I appreciate the retroactive interaction, and I’m obviously generalizing in the post, talking about a trend and working from a set of observations and experiences. But I’m always curious about objections like yours, especially the quote above. It’s unsettling, honestly.

      That said, blessings, and thanks for the comment.

      • http:///krwordgazer.blogspot.com Kristen

        Well, a lot depends on context and how things are said. But the vast majority of women I know would much rather be described in some other way than “my hot sexy wife.” It puts me in mind of Xerxes in the book of Esther, insisting that Vashti come and be paraded in front of his guests. This was not the action of a godly king!

        Or as the simple 1950s song “You Don’t Own Me” put it: “Please– don’t put me on display.”

        A man’s intentions can be good and he can still be displaying his wife like a possession, whether he means to or not. Until the man has asked his wife whether she actually appreciates it, he’s not off the hook.

        • http://zhoag.com Zach

          Yes, I agree with that :).

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  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    @Bob Bob, I disagree with ya there.

  • Be Salt and Light

    @Bob One of the comments cited is the pastor too busy staring at his wife’s butt. Not only crude and inappropriate in and of itself (Ephesians 5:4) but where do you think every male eye in the room went to? To the woman’s”butt,” of course. Do you really think any Christian woman wants every man in the room staring at her butt, to be objectified, and perhaps even have a few sexual fantasies projected onto her? Plenty of husbands do things their wives don’t like, and they just give up trying to change him. It doesn’t mean she likes it.

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  • http://simplycharity.blogspot.com/ Charity Johnson

    Now for the announcements: “I am your new associate pastor & this is my wife”hot” (“beautiful”/”gorgeous”) We’re rolling another ‘divorce in no circumstances DVD every Sunday for married couples’ since the divorce rate in Grace XYZ Church exceeds the cultural average of about 50%. We noticed the number of couples in marital counseling or, who should be  is about 85%.  We gotta get this fixed.”

  • JUZY

    Zach, I see where you’re coming from. Some aspects of this ‘trend’ is annoying!! :)  However, as a happily married woman, I admit I LOVE when my husband publicly compliments/praises/honors me. Yes, even…especially… when he refers to me as ‘hot’. :) “HER HUSBAND PRAISES HER.” Prov. 31:28 No, it doesn’t feel demeaning. :) Or that he’s ASSERTING HIS DOMINANT GENDER ROLE’. :) When he sees me as HOT and has the courage to PUBLICLY praise me, I feel HONORED/CHOSEN/CHERISHED, and the only one he truly has eyes for. In the day in age where Song of Solomon romance seems to be a thing of the past and unfulfilling marriages/extra-marital affairs are too prevalent, where a couple decades of pornography have so often twisted and replaced the foundation of true intimacy, it’s incredibly REFRESHING to hear men (publicly) praising/adoring their wives. Yes, I agree with you about the “leather pants” comment Lol! But, that’s between them, don’t ya think? Maybe she is just fine with that sort of attention. Yes, PERHAPS some men are ‘overcompensating’ or ‘projecting’. Yes, MAYBE they’re lusting after women more attractive than their wives. However, judging people’s motives is TRESPASSING . That’s God’s department, right? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Mt. 7:1 How would you feel if I STATED that YOU are “projecting” on these men? That you’re envious? Or insecure? Surely, you’d agree we have the right to speculate, but judging hearts is so painful, destructive, and divisive. I just felt such immense pain for these men you were judging. There’s a very good chance they adore their wives, and yet they’re being accused by a brother in Christ. Pride and false accusations have divided people from the beginning of time. “Satan is the accuser of the brethren.” Rev. 12:10 We have to remain humble to make a difference. I appreciate many of your posts. I loved “The War on X-mas”.  You’re a great, creative writer. I pray many blessings on your life and future posts. :)

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    JUZY well, unfortunately I didn’t write “The War on X-Mas” – friend Jared Byas did! However, I understand your defense and disagree with your conclusions, especially at the cultural/systemic level in American evangelicalism. Also, your Bible admonishments, while well intentioned, are out of context for this critique. And they reveal your intent in commenting.
    Lastly, I would really take your comment more seriously if you used a real name and provided an email/web link. Anonymous commenters are notoriously disingenuous with their intentions, and this seems to be the case. So please provide info, or this is the end of the conversation. Thanks!

  • JUZY

    Jeanne S 
    So, declaring their wives as ‘hot’ indicates they “see their wife as less than equal’? Boosting their egos? Comparing cup sizes? Disrespectful?” Wow, SO much condemnation and heart judging here. God’s department, not ours. How about: They simply think their wives are hot and declaring it? My hubs does that, and not once have I felt demeaned/disrespected, etc. Some women may. If so, maybe that’s an indication that the marriage is not healthy/fulfilling in the first place. Again, it’s a heart issue. Truly between them and God. Just saying…We have to remain humble, face our own issues, & leave others’ to God, no?

  • delesmuses

    Isn’t it ironic? Unmarried Christian women are still told to cover and hide so not to attract the attention of men who – gasp! – might actually want to marry them, while the married Christian women are blatantly shown off by their braggart husbands, who apparently get turned on by other men slobbering over their wives.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    delesmuses great point, thanks for highlighting that.

  • LXSMom

    “Juzy,”

    Have you ever had sexual harassment training? My job does it. Sexual harassment is not simply unwanted sexual advances. It is ANY inappropriate sexual behavior in the work place. Examples include couples making out in elevators, men telling dirty jokes when women in the office have to be there to do their work; or one man rubbing his girlfriend’s back in her cubicle (“but no one can see us”) while she moans and coos. Exposure to sexual behavior, even when not directed at a person, is legally sexual harassment and against the law. Shouldn’t the church be held to at least as high a standard as the workplace?
    I don’t care if you enjoy your husband braying about how very “hot” you are. Save it for the bedroom. If you must do it in public–and I can’t imagine why either of you would need that–do it with close friends. No one, I assure you, is enjoying it as much as you. And the older you are, the less attractive it is to those around you. There is a reason it’s called a “personal” life, or a “private” life. If you want to call that judging, well, I also have to judge who to vote for in an election or who to give a good evaluation to at work. 

    You’re saying humility is necessary to make a difference. I suggest you and your husband remain humble about how very smokin’ hot you are. This will be especially welcome to those who are not “smokin’ hot” or don’t have someone to tell them they are “smokin’ hot.”

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    Thanks for this. Just so you know, I changed the settings so that no one can post as a “guest” without providing credentials anymore. Should weed out future troll-type commenters. I’m just gonna start calling them “Juzy’s” from now on :).

  • Stevews29

    According to the law, many of the behaviors you mentioned who only be considered sexual harassment if they are “unwelcome.” If coworkers have given consent, it’s not sexual harrassment (though they might be against the employer’s policy). It’s best to be prudent when you aren’t sure, but if everyone thinks that a couple giving each other a back rub is not only fine, there’s no problem. And I can show you research that says that kind of thing can increase productivity, so it might even be welcome. 

    And, technically speaking, none of the things you mentioned are “against the law.” The way sexual harassment law works, the behavior is actionable only by the employer except for criminal offenses like sexual assault. In the examples you gave, someone could file a complaint to the employer, who would then decide on disciplinary action. If the victim isn’t satisfied, they can file a civil suit against the employer, but not the individual(s). 

    Here’s my point: equating public expressions of affection with breaking the law isn’t Biblical and it’s not good for the Body of Christ.  I 100% respect people having different matters of taste. I don’t want to see someone make out in an elevator. I think it’s rude. If someone belabors the hotness of one’s spouse beyond a fleeting comment, I cringe a little. But that’s me. Throwing God’s weight behind my own proclivities strays into dangerous territory.

  • LXSMom

    Stevews29  Public expressions of affection in the workplace are, in fact, breaking the law (federal law) under the sexual harassment guidelines, although in some cases one has to complain before they meet that standard, which is odd. People should know. One woman was forwarded an email from a coworker, one of those “joke emails” entitled, “Ten Reasons Why a Cold Beer is Better Than a Woman.” She printed it out, went to HR, and said she was offended. Even though she had not complained about this previously, the man lost his job and she was awarded $250,000 in damages. 

    And yes, there is also research to show that anything that creates a hostile environment decreases productivity–that’s why it’s been made illegal. 

    It is Biblical to obey all of the laws of a country (see Romans 13, for one example). I also believe that is it good for the body of Christ to hold themselves to minimal standards of behavior–if it wouldn’t be tolerated in the secular workplace, should it be tolerated in a church? I say no. 

    When you are in a workplace, using work equipment, on company time, or representing a company, you have minimal behaviors you must meet. We, as Christians, represent Christ, and are ALWAYS on “company time,” so to speak and should behave with certain standards.

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