In the 1662 Book of Common Prayer marriage ceremony, the husband says, "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
It has recently come to my attention that it is now common in Christian circles for men to refer to their wives, in public, as "smokin' hot." Similarly, I understand that Christian women consider it acceptable to refer to men, including their husbands, as "hot."
My beloved brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Of the comments at the above-linked post, one was particularly perspicacious: (For some reason, I can't find a permalink for an individual comment.)
Commentator Mark Elam said,
I bet that you didn’t find any men describing their daughters as “Smokin Hot” on their Facebook page. Why not, because the term is racy, suggestive and degrading.
Come on guys, fess-up! Lyn, when you can find a man honest enough to say the truth -“she is very sexy to me” and not try to say that “Smokin Hot” means you complete me with your spiritual character… then you will find an honest guy.
So why wouldn’t we say the truth about it? Because men have been conditioned to see women as sexual objects created to meet our sexual desires… and to admit that means that I have been contaminated by the sexualized culture around me and seduced into believing that it is normal to talk about women, and even our wives as my sex object. We know better when confronted, but our heart condemns us.
Sexual impurity is a big problem with the men and many women in our society. It has its grip on our souls and effects our minds, attitudes, words and actions. Let’s be honest enough to admit that we have a sin infestation problem and then work toward a spiritual solution.
As far as I'm concerned, that is unanswerable--such terms and phrases are racy, suggestive, and degrading. Check, check, and check. The argument about men's not using such phrases to describe their daughters is brilliant. I wish I'd thought of it myself. It makes the point so well.
What does surprise me is a suggestion I have seen here or there while "researching" this topic to the effect that without the use of such degrading and sexualized terminology Christian men and women are deprived of a way to compliment their spouses' appearance when speaking to others. Have "beautiful," "lovely," and (to refer to one's husband) "handsome" been stricken from the vocabulary of English speakers while I wasn't looking? Are Christians stricken dumb when they attempt to speak these words? Is dignified language verboten?
Let's be clear: The problem here isn't first and foremost that a term like "hot" (or worse "smokin' hot") refers to the appearance of one's wife. This isn't a feminist rant against telling the world that you think your wife is beautiful (as opposed to brilliant or competent or tough). Nor does this need to be a Christian rant (not that such rants are necessarily bad) against over-valuing appearance as opposed to spiritual qualities and other good character qualities.
This has to do with being ladies and gentlemen and treating others, one's spouse above all, with respect and dignity. Ladies and gentlem do not speak about members of the opposite sex in an explicitly sexualized fashion. Above all, gentlemen do not speak publically about their wives in such a way, and ladies do not speak publically about their husbands in such a way. Is this not obvious? If the world will not maintain (and it evidently will not) standards of decency in polite company, the Church at least should do so.
Readers, if you have adopted these ways of speaking, please stop doing so immediately. If your wife for whatever reason has decided that she likes you to brag to others that she is "smokin' hot" (I understand that some wives say that they do), explain to her that you've realized that you are encouraging other people to think of her in a specifically sexual way and that therefore you are not going to do that anymore. Replace it with bragging that she is beautiful or lovely. And the same, mutatis mutandis, for women. If you are under thirty and are worried that this will make you sound like you belong to a previous generation, just be rad: Sound like you belong to a previous generation. Those previous generations seem to have had some good ideas about being ladies and gentlemen.