Balanced View vs Objectification


Is relating to other human beings as part object and part spirit the natural and intended way? It seems to be compatible with reality. We are physical objects. That’s an observable truth. As objects we desire to have and to hold other objects such as in physical attraction. It’s like gravity. It’s a natural attraction.

Isn’t the right relationship with other human beings, the truthful one, a proper balance between seeing the body as an object and how we should relate to a person in a spiritual way?


People are partly physical beings, yes, but they are not objects to be possessed and used. That attitude is the root of all sin against other people.

People are ends, not means. Subjects, not objects. You might desire someone, or they might be in the position of performing a service for you, but even so that person is a child of God equal to you, with his or her own life and dignity. That’s why it’s wrong to mistreat a person who is temporarily in the position of serving you (such as a waiter or cashier), and wrong to act as though someone’s attractiveness to you gives you the right to touch them or talk to them in a way that treats them as a thing for your pleasure instead of another person.


The Church’s teaching is that human nature is both body and soul. In more philosophical language, we have this idea of man being a “rational animal”.

The danger with putting too much emphasis on the body as “object” and the soul as “spiritual”, is that we may be led into the error that human beings are spiritual souls only and are simply carried about by material bodies, and that, in the end, the material will be discarded and we will be spiritual entities only.

I would say that the right relationship with other human beings should recognize that the other is both body and soul, a unity that should not be separated. Therefore, the body of the other carries the same dignity as the spiritual soul of that person (e.g., which gives us intellect and will), and so our interactions with that person should give just as much respect to the body as to the soul.


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