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Page 3 or not Page 3?

So the 'Donegal on Sunday' thinks it will reach a whole new range of readers if it includes a Page 3 girl. ‘Readers’ is, perhaps, not quite the word though!

Of course the paper will rush to defend itself saying that she was covered up, but even that is a bit generous. She’s not so covered that she would walk down the street dressed like that. (Some of you will by now be asking the obvious question – How does he know? The answer is simple – I asked my wife to look.)

So what is the problem with a semi-clad girl lounging on the third page of a newspaper – or for that matter in any ad, or photo opportunity?

Sex and sexuality are tremendously good gifts from God. He has designed the female body to excite and arouse, and he has also designed a safe environment of trust and security for that to be enjoyed in – marriage. It is for both the man and woman’s benefit that he has designed it that way.

Let me give you some considerations:

1. A scantily clad woman lying on bed reading a book encourages men (and young boys) to think of women in terms only of their bodies and the bedroom, when there is so much more to women than sex.

2. It encourages the tendency in men to mentally undress women by reminding them of what they would see if they could. I’m sure none of the editors would be overly impressed if you said that you had been visualising their wife or daughter semi-clad, yet they willingly subject women to this for a few extra sales.

3. The newspaper’s eager invitation for wannabe Page 3 girls to make contact fosters the view amongst young women that they are valuable only if they are pretty, and only for as long as they are pretty. The whole concept makes women subconsciously measure their worth by this unrealistic standard of models. The editors’ hunger for a higher profit adds to the low self-esteem many women feel.

4. The Page 3 mentality adds to the dissatisfaction men feel with their wives when their wives don’t satisfy them as visually as the girl on Page 3. It encourages men to look elsewhere for sexual satisfaction – actual or virtual – instead of committing themselves to their wives (recognising that they themselves aren’t quite the Adonis she once married or hoped for).

5. While not a prophet, I would be willing to forecast that this is only the thin end of the wedge – the increase in sales brought by the hoo-haa about Page 3 will quickly tail away unless there is something more stimulating.

6. Finally, it reinforces a mindset that the temporary and fleeting, in this case looks and figure, are more important than values of lasting significance, such as wisdom, graciousness, kindness, gentleness, discernment. This fixation with the superficial blinds people to the deeper issues of life, such as their relationship to God.

The Bible tells us that women are made in the image of God – that means there is a dignity and an honour accorded to each of them. ‘Page 3’ demeans that image bearer of God, and demeans the men who look. It turns women into chunks of meat, and men into slavering animals. That is not how God intended it to be.

I would say this to the 'Donegal on Sunday', to its readers, and to young women everywhere, sexuality is a good gift from God – treat your sexuality (not just sex) like a fine wine kept for someone special, and not like cheap beer you hand out to all and sundry.