Sitting in the nail salon waiting for my appointment, I grabbed the stack of magazines and flipped through them. Halfway through the stack, a woman, posed powerfully on a magazine cover, stared back at me. Around her, the headlines shouted in bright colors:
Get Hot Abs by Summer!
How to Give Him the Sex He Wants
Build Confidence in the Bedroom!
These headlines intrigued me. And I used to fall for their promises—promises to know more, to be more confident, to learn things the church never taught me. But now I know better.
A few years ago Cosmopolitan magazine was my way of understanding sexuality. Without a sex talk from a trusted, godly adult, I pieced together my view of sex from those colorful pages and the romance novels I read. My view of sex was based on dramatic, extramarital relationship advice. I didn’t know where the line was between God-designed sexuality and what I read about in these magazines. But I was curious, and I knew it couldn’t be healthy for someone in their late teens and early 20s to be ignorant about sex…so I read them anyway.
Cosmopolitan and media pieces like it warped my view of sexuality. God has brought great healing to my life and marriage, but it took years of growth to get here. I want to save you that pain. Following are four ways Cosmo warps our view of sexuality, why God’s way is better and what I’d say to those tempted by its pages.
- Cosmo says your value is found in your sexuality. By presenting women as sexual objects—a means for men to be gratified sexually or something for men to use as a visual stimulant—Cosmo tells us our value is found in our sexuality. The more desirable you are and the better at sex you are, the more valuable you are. This is implied through the articles we see in the magazine. This trains our minds to believe we must prioritize our desirability, and that desirability only looks one way…like the girl on the cover.
- Cosmo perpetuates the objectification of women. The magazine is directed to women, but every month it contains articles teaching women how to better please men. The women on the cover are typically arranged (and Photoshopped) to be attractive to men and to create in women a desire to achieve the same attractiveness. While there is nothing wrong with being attractive or celebrating godly sexuality, making ourselves into objects in order to feel desirable is not God’s will! Women have so much more to offer the world than sex and sexuality.
- Cosmo leaves out the emotional side of sexuality. Cosmo talks plenty about the physical side of sex, with step-by-step instructions for bettering your (often extramarital) sex life. But little is said about the emotional and spiritual aspects of sex. God designed sex to bring us closer emotionally, spiritually AND physically. When you only talk about the physical, you miss out on God’s intentions for sexuality.
- Cosmo reduces relationships to chemistry alone. Cosmo places the emphasis on chemistry for a relationship to work. If you’re not having sex, then how can you have a healthy relationship? They make it seem like a relationship must have instant chemistry in order to last, and that’s simply not true. Relationships last when they are based on covenant and commitment to love no matter what—sacrificial love, like what Christ modeled for us. Relationships are much more than sexual attraction.
Why I No Longer Read Cosmo
I stopped reading Cosmo when I got serious about battling sexual sin. I stopped consuming the lies about sexuality and allowed God to reframe my view from HIS perspective. When I met and married my husband, I had to work through these lies—and I’m still working through them, four years later. But I’m far more free than I ever was before!
I am so grateful for Project Inspired’s founder, Nicole Weider, for her recent victory with Walmart, who has removed Cosmo from 5,000 checkout lines across the United States. This is a huge step toward saving young women from the warped view of sex I endured.
Cosmo appeals to us because we want a blunt, honest perspective on sex. And we need that—from God’s perspective. Through my journey out of sexual sin and addiction, I wrote a book just for you: Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had. This is the book I wish I’d had at 16, 19 or 21. I wrote it to tell you everything you were never told, and to help you reframe sex from a biblical perspective.
Check out the book here, and if you’re struggling with sexual sin, sign up for my free, seven-day email course for overcoming sexual sin and addiction: porn, extramarital sex, erotica or masturbation. I work with girls of all ages and walks of life; no sexual addiction is too much for God to redeem.
We don’t need Cosmo to tell us what sex is or should be; we need Jesus to show us His will for our sexuality. In that place, there is freedom.