Friday, June 12, 2009

Sex Trafficking Follow Up

Thank you to everyone for talking opening about something that is often uncomfortable, overwhelming and gives us a glimpse into the darkness of our own hearts and the world around us. I come away from last night still hopeful that we can live differently in ways that bring healing and hope for those who are hurting, ourselves included.

Although, there were many perspectives about what can and should be done and how we should look at the sex industry there are some common themes that I would like to pull out.

  • God created sex and meant it for good! We need avenues to express our sexuality in healthy ways, not shy away from discussing it, especially as a church.
  • We need to recognize how much porn, stripping, prostitution, and just normal media messages contribute to all of our warped perspectives on sex (male and female). Its important for us to talk about this in community with others.
  • There are children being exploited for sex locally and globally and this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

For more information on Human Trafficking check out these links:

Some of you were interested in stats:
  • 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk every year for commercial sexual exploitation. -U.S. Department of Justice
  • 600,000 – 800,000 people are bought and sold across international borders each year; 50% are children, most are female. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. – U.S. Department of State, 2004, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, D.C.
  • An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. – U.S Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons
  • There are open sex slavery cases in all 50 States. An estimated 10,000 sex slaves exist in New York City. – Red Light Children Campaign
  • An estimated 2.5 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion dollar commercial sex industry – UNICEF
  • Investigators and researchers estimate the average predator in the U.S. can make more than $200,000 a year off one young girl. – NBC Report by Teri Williams

I realize that this is overwhelming and you can spend many hours on the internet researching and learning about all of the various aspects of human trafficking and child sex trafficking. I would encourage you to do your own research and become informed on your own time. This way you will be able to talk with others about what is going on all around us.

One of the biggest problems we have is that we don't know enough to talk about or aren't aware that it is happening. The more you learn, the more you will become aware of stories that you see in the news and possibly even places where trafficking is taking place in your own community. Hopefully we can be a part of combatting demand and rescuing and restoring the lives of those who are being exploited.

Action Items

Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk— 9AM Sunday, Sept. 27th & Information and Encouragement Rally Sunday, June 14th 7PM

Guest Host Night at NoFo CafĂ©—Tuesday, Aug. 18th 5:30-9PM

Transform Asia—Cambodia Vision and Service Trip, December 2009

Talk! Change your attitudes! Pray! Pay Attention!

Jubilee meets at Visio Dei Church on the 1st & 3rd Monday’s of each month at 7PM.


Please post comments! This is a discussion we need to continue.


20 comments:

jonathan said...



First of all, I really enjoyed what you had to say Traci. I wish we could have spent more time discussing our response to it - instead of discussing whether it was a real problem or not. It is a real problem - one that needs to be responded to.


The problem we had last night is that we got into a disagreement of human opinions - all of which do not matter one bit. 



We constantly fool ourselves that our perception / opinion actually matters. God plainly deals with the topic we discussed last night in his Word, the Bible. An opinion contrary to that is simple rebellion against His Word.



What we need to do is agree on a common ground that says "we come together to undertsand what God says about the matter then come up with a solution that holds each other acountable to what we find in His Word".

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about this instead of sleeping. A few points to consider:



1) This idea of legalizing something to take away the stigma / bring it out into the light and then the goverment can control it makes my skin crawl. Perhaps if we legalize prostitution, the young prostitutes that sell themselves or are forced into slavery can form a union? Maybe if we can tax revenues on legalized narcotics we can have a free healthcare system? At least that way the union can keep an eye out for 17 year old prostitutes and our teenagers who are strung out on drugs can have a free clinic to go to? 



What we are asking for is for the goverment to approve of something that God does not approve of. The ultimate authority tells us that these things defile our body - so we need another authority to ok it and make us feel better about it. Basically, if we take evil and make it not evil anymore, we wont have to struggle against it anymore.



2) The sex trade, whether prostitution, strip joints, or pornography is a temptation that every man deals with. It is in our faces every day - we are bombarded with it. However, its overwhelming presence doesnt make it 'normal'. Just because we all face it, doesnt make it acceptable. It affects how we look at our wives, how we look at other women, and how we form our relationships with both. God's word clearly teaches that anything that influences that strongly our thoughs, actions, and view of life is replacing His influence, His teaching, His control - and is wrong. 'Everyone does it, it's the ones who take it to the extreme that are the problem' is a dangerous way of thinking that replaces God with the moral standards of the masses.



3) Our 'moral standard' shouldnt be one we set that is 'slightly purer' than the worlds. We are not allowed to move that line. Our moral standard comes from God's word and what He says is best for us. Sure we struggle with living that out - and that is what grace is all about, but we dont get to justify our behaviour because the world is just a touch worse. This idea of there is nothing wrong with prostitution, as long as its legal and with a consenting 18 year old, or there is nothing wrong with filling our body with drugs as long as the goverment says its ok, is simply a way of fooling ourselves into believing we can justify sin. 


4) Our job as Christians is not to reconcile the worlds 'opinions' and morality with God's word. Our responsibility is to proclaim God's word and live it out as best we can.



Jonathan.

traci said...

Thanks for your thoughts Jonathan! Its interesting because I think there is a distinction that needs to be made.

1) What is our role as Christ followers?

This is what I think you are speaking into. Those of us who seek to follow Jesus do have a call to a different way of living and looking at things.

My question is, while setting the moral standard with God's word, we need to also address the real challenges that we all struggle with. We need to consider what to do with that energy.

I wonder if not having dialogue that opens up people to explore their true carnal motivations isn't one of the reasons why Christian men are often those who are caught as pedophiles or addicted to pornography. We need space to address this in real and effective ways that draw us closer to Jesus.

2) What is going to help combat trafficking demand for child sex trafficking in general?

This seems to be where the debate ensues even more, with the legalization? what is 'normal' for our culture? what things would help men who aren't following christ find this to be a problem or to see how hard it is to identify if a prostitute wants to be there or not.

Can/should we expect those who aren't following Christ to live like they are? What is our role in extending healing from the hurt that men and women experience because of the cultural messages that are all around us?

jonathan said...

Traci,

I would agree with you, and offer the following points:

1) You are right - Christian men do not discuss this stuff and can therefore indulge in it 'in private' as was discussed last night. What I am challenging is this concept that maybe it should be legal and therefore we dont need as Christians to deal with it? Maybe it's ok as long as we dont mess with the kiddie stuff and hardcore stuff.

If we dont talk about this and challenge each other within the context of the church, we allow ourselves as individuals to begin to replace God's standards with the standards we see on TV, hear from our friends, etc.

I do have a little difficulty with this concept of where to 'spend this energy'. How is this energy, other than the fact we dont talk about it much, different than any other carnal desire? Is the Bible lacking of teaching of how to deal with carnal desires? I dont think so... we are sinful creatures and God deals all the way through with the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. Sexual energy/desire doesn't fall in some special category that isn't dealt with in scripture.

2) This desire and how we play it out is the same problem for Christians and non-Christians alike. We should be careful not to try and construct new ways of fixing problems of the heart for 'men who do not follow Christ'. Their problem is the same, except they do not recognize the truth that would change their hearts.

Perhaps the simple answer is that the world runs rampant in this area and they see little example from the church to say otherwise? (ie. their church going friends are willing to go to the strip joint with them, just not the brothel). We as Christ followers have set a pretty poor example in this area. Perhaps if we were more vocal about our struggle to stay away from this stuff the world around us would begin to see that it isn't 'normal' and should be resisted?

I refuse to accept the position though that because something is a big problem, or even accepted as normal within society, we should stop fighting it (legalize it). We may never win the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, or the war on human trafficking - but that doesn't mean we should stop fighting those evils.

"The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

jonathan said...

Correction - strike "war on terrorism". I think its called the "struggle against man-made disasters" now. ;)

traci said...

Great Points!

I think we might be saying the same thing... when we talk about something openly, it loses its power. When we encourage one another we aren't alone. We need more of that so that we do offer another way of living.

As far as displacing our energy, an example from someone recovering from an addiction...
I struggle with an eating disorder. For years I told myself that as a follower of Christ I shouldn't have this problem. I denied it, I hid it, I felt a ton of shame and guilt that only contributed more to my destructive habits.
There were many things in my life (one being sexual abuse) that led to this. I was too ashamed to talk about this as well.
It wasn't until I learned that I could talk with others and replaced my disordered habits with constructive ones that I was able to move towards healing. Some of things I do now when I want to binge or starve... color, play guitar, sleep, clean, call a friend, get a massage, go for a walk.

These are the things I'm saying that we need to consider for the destructive energy replacement.
If men have habits of looking at porn or whatever else, they are going to need something to replace that space for it to be lasting.

I am not arguing for legalization either, I am just saying that I want to understand the multiple perspectives on it so we can engage with the real issues (our brokenness, every body's brokenness) and move on towards providing healing for men in and outside of the church.

chewie said...

So I came up with a good (i think) analogy for the point I was trying to make last night. Think about Coffee... I'm sure Coffee is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country and there are countless people that depend on their caffiene fix at various times in the day. Coffee is grown in a spectrum of environmental and social/labor conditions. On "good" end of the spectrum, you might have shade-grown, fair trade coffee. In the middle might just be fair(er) trade and somewhere on the "bad" end you've got scorched-earth-clear-cut sweatshop labor made coffee. What to do if you want to change these conditions? The tactics smart people are taking seems to be 1.) raising awareness of the abuses, and 2.) trying to give consumers a choice so the consumer can reduce the demand for the "bad" coffee. What they're NOT doing is trying to get everyone to see that Coffee is inherently bad and that people should just stop drinking coffee. That's just not a practical solution. Besides, there's nothing necessarily inherently wrong with coffee (disclaimer: this IS an arguable point, especially as it relates to caffienated coffee).

So bringing it back around to porn... and I feel like we need a definition here, so courtesy of wikipedia: "Pornography or porn is the depiction of explicit sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexually exciting the viewer."

In the grand scheme of what is "depiction of explicit sexual subject matter", you could have anything from Venus De Milo, to Playboy, to soft core videos, hard core, illegal child porn, etc. To basically come out and say "look at the child exploitation... porn is bad... stop buying it", is akin to telling coffee drinkers "look at the sweat-shops, stop buying coffee". For campaigns against sexual exploitation to work, they must make a distinction between exploitation and porn. Although perhaps sexual exploitation is almost always Porn(or prostitution), Porn is not always exploitation. It's an "If", not an "IF-and-only-if" relationship!

(Mind you, I am NOT making a moral or biblical argument here one way or another. This is a logical argument that HAS to appeal to both the churched and unchurched.)

Now, it's possible that 80% of the commercial porn industry exploits people and/or children. If that's the case, perhaps a strong case can be made for not buying _any_ porn; however, the message "porn is inherently bad" is still, imho, the wrong tactic. Somewhere out there (probably in Texas or Raleigh), there is a married, God-fearing hetrosexual couple who waited to have sex until they got married; who never looked at any porn... ever. These people have been as sexually pure as can be. And one day, this couple took the point-and-shoot into bed with them. And kept it to themselves. Guess what? They are now making home-grown porn. I'd like for someone to argue from a biblical perspective that what they are doing is somehow wrong. I don't see how it is! So, in my opinion, somewhere on the spectrum of Porn there _IS_ holy Porn! And God loves it just as much as he loves your marriage. :)

The fact is that most men (and many women) are drawn to porn precisely because we are visual creatures in our sexuality. Like John was saying last night, we may all have various levels of self-control, but the draw is universal. If we want to stop exploitation, perhaps we should have a serious discussion of how these needs can be met in a different way. For the non-churched, maybe this is by only downloading free porn initially... pressure the industry to come up with "free trade porn", "non-exploitative porn" or something! For the "churched", maybe churches should give workshops on how you and your wife can make the best home-brewed porn ever... but to completely deny the draw to visiually-stimulating material, to try to universally squelch the demand for it... these seem to be futile undertakings.

Discuss...

jonathan said...

"the draw to visiually-stimulating material"

Are we not just talking about lust here - or are you suggesting that perhaps men look at porn to satisfy their artistic appreciation of the female form? I think we can assume we are talking about lust:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt 5:28

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Col 3:5

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal 5:16

I think, looking at just a few passages, you can make a very simple argument that porn, of any nature, is idolatry and adultery.

In your example of the couple - well, it depends what they do with this video - can the man lust after his own wife sinfully? No. You may define this as porn and use it to create this context of 'good porn' but I think that is missing the point.

I think the mistake here is again to define this thing with the worlds terms, not Gods. You can make the logical argument you made, but its all based on the worlds definition of porn. How about God's definition of lust and idolatry? How would you fit that it into your coffee analogy? Does God define good-idolatry and bad-idolatry?

The point here is not the content that's out there - its mans reaction to the content - Lust - which God defines as sin.

Jonathan

traci said...

In my opinion there are 2 different ideas going on

1) The need to stop child exploitation-- for this Chewie's theory may bode some positive results, maybe not.

I would not go as far to say that we should promote "free trade porn" or anything like that, but it would be helpful to discover and prosecute the porn and prostitution that is directly linked to child trafficking. -- there are efforts to do this, International Justice Mission, Not for Sale Campaign, Law Enforcement Training, etc.

Maybe the more that people see what they have been doing is linked to exploiting those who don't want a part of it, the less likely they are to do it at all? Don't know.

KEY HERE: We all agree that stopping child sex trafficking is needed! We should do something about it.


2) We need to recognize how much we as Christians contribute to the culture of a warped sexual identity and deal with it.

We need to recognize our limitations and seek to overcome them... one option that Chewie seems to be suggesting is for married couples to make their own porn videos... another option is to open more space for dialogue between men and in couples about their pull towards pornographic images and what they can do to help each other combat that... another option might be to encourage each other to stop considering any part of the sex industry as legitimate and get to the root of why that is such a hard thing for us to let go of...

So, Point 1-- We need to do something about child sex trafficking!

Point 2-- We need to do something about our inability to recognize how much we may contribute to a culture that participates in sex trafficking and help each other to flee from such things.

chewie said...

Sorry to post again, but when I started my previous comment, there were no other comments up here.

Some more points I'd like to make:
1.) The idea that my perception/opinion doesn't matter is completely false TO ME. When anyone interperets the Bible, they are using a slew of methods whether it is conscious of subconscious: Textual meaning, historical context, literary style, etc. The things that are normally placed under exegesis, and hermeneutics. There's a wide range of interpretation. If you put aside your own perceptions and opinions, you are only taking on someone elses. When my parents moved to this country they were _shocked_ at the immorality of all the women running around in pants. And how it was accepted for women to bare their shoulders, much less their legs. These were, to them, signs of immorality. Most of us obviously take a different interpretation. Perhaps someone can explain to me why most women in the American church choose to openly disregard the commandment in I Cor 11:2-16 regarding women's headcoverings. It's plain and simple in the Bible... if we would only obey.

2a.) The "legalization" argument, part 1. Most pornography sold in this country IS legal. Prostitution is legal on a federal level (although only one state allows it and only in certain counties). No one is arguing for legalization.. it's already legal.

2b.) I made a comment last night about the legalization of drugs as an analogy to the problem of demand for pornography (or anything else) when it is driven underground. Maybe it's a great analogy and maybe it isn't. See my previous comment for a better analogy; however, I would like to say that we do need to de-stigmatize sex if we ever expect to talk about it openly and solve these problems. We are a long way from that as a church and as a society. And defining sexual behavior in a narrow sense of our own religious interpretation as general consumption for the public is not what I feel called to do as an individual or a church. I wouldn't want Muslims, Mormons, or any other religion (some of which are FAR more conservative about sex) imposing their view of sex into laws that I have to live under. Does Sharia Law mean anything to anyone?

My skin crawls when I hear people saying that what's good for non-christians is the same as what's good for Christians. I understand the convictions, but as a Christian, I feel a twinge of humility at my ability to dictate what is God's will for everyone. I'd rather work towards a society where freedom reigns and I am allowed to practice my faith and my life without someone else's undue restrictions or without my own undue restrictions on everyone else.

Is there any plan to continue this discussion in homegroup sometime? We obviously didn't get it all out! :)

jonathan said...

Just curious, but what would be the multiple interpretations of these verses?

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt 5:28

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Col 3:5

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal 5:16

i agree there are some verses, such as women covering their heads (which I have been to churches that follow), that can be interpreted as being for a certain time, or for the church they were written to.

However you cannot say that any verse is subject to interpretation, and therefore invalid in a debate like this, otherwise you disregard scripture as truth. I think these verses above are pretty clear in what they say. Are we really willing to say that they don't apply because of interpretation?

If your opinion contradicts the truth scripture teaches - then your opinion is worthless. This may sound harsh, but you either believe in absolute truth or you don't. You cant sit in the middle. God's word isn't making an argument or trying to convince us of something - it declares the truth by which this world and our relationship with the creator is ruled.

As to legalization, while I'm not sure why we are even still talking about this:

1. Federal law does not legalize prostitution, it fails to restrict it by not having a law.

2. According to the 10th amendment - state laws are the law in that state - they dont merely recognize or not recognize federal law - so prostitution is illegal in 49 states.

While you may, rightly or wrongly, have some humility in telling non-Christians that they live and exist under Gods truth - God does not share that humility. He declares his existence as our creator and gives us the truth about our relationship with Him (the Bible). The fact is - whether we feel good about this or not - God's word applies to all, non-Christian or Christian.

Are we really debating whether what God thinks and says about this matters?

Jonathan

chewie said...

It is absolutely open to debate. Even if I agree with you in the end, I'm open-minded enough to realize that it's open to debate and that my/our interpretation could be wrong. (This is the fundamental difference between scholarship and doctrine, but that's another can of worms for another day) Why is women's head-covering debatable (and I too have attended churches where they observed it) but these verses are not? Aren't women instructed to be silent in the church? In our church, I have to live with the indignity of Traci talking all the time! :)

As for multiple interpretations:
Mathew 5:28 is clearly saying that it's OK to lust as long as you don't intend to commit adultary.

Col 3:5 is clear admonition to all of us to not be pulled by the sway of materialism and keeping up w/ the jones'... like a car that runs well. and a house w/ a roof that doesn't leak.

Gal 5:16 tells me that if I walk 100% in the spirit I will go on a hunger strike and not satisfy my fleshly desires for food, much less Goodberry's.

Was this a serious question? You can't look at these verses (and passages, especially Math 5:28) and not see several different interpretations?

Let's not beat the interpretation dead horse... I can recommend a great book if you're interested in really knowing more about interpretation:
"How to Read the Bible for All it's Worth" by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart is a great read:
http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-All-Worth/dp/0310246040/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244836444&sr=8-1
Don't worry... it's an Intervarsity Press book, not some crazy chewie kookoo publisher! And we can debate the meanings some other time if you still want to...

But getting back to the problem of human trafficking (because grown-ups are people too), I really do wonder if the church is really well-equiped to handle this problem or if it would be better handled by a non-church organization. I know Jon and I are only 2 people but I do feel like we represent the views of more than just ourselves. Is this topic (sex, porn, prostitution) just too controversial for Christians to be able to come together and agree on effective ways to combat the problem? Anyone else care to chime in?!

Jason said...

A lot to read here (so excuse me for not commenting on everything - I certainly have thoughts so just ask me if you want to know) but just a quick post to Chewie's last question regarding "whether or not the church is equipped..." My response is this - Never in all of my life have I ever seen "hope-filled" people sit around and do nothing and hope for the best with that working out all to well. Disregard being a follower of Christ or not... waiting around for evil to run it's course has never really worked itself out too well. Thats the long answer. The short is this if the church doesnt have a voice in this than our gospel isn't very much good news. Maybe being more strategic is an ok question but questioning effort is a bit extreme.

traci said...

My thoughts on if the church has a role in this...

The Local Church and Global Body of Christ have a unique calling in this ministry...

1) The mission of the church:

Luke 4:18-19 Isaiah 61:1-5—The freedom and healing of survivors of sexual exploitation is at the heart of the mission of the church.

2) The message of the church:

2 Corinthians 5:17—We have a unique message of freedom and the power for restoration.

Consider: Violence, betrayal, deception, hopelessness v. loving concern, trust, life-changing hope.
These second qualities that are based on the character, love, and life-changing power of the True and Living God.
Our hope comes because of Jesus. He gave us power, he gave us freedom, we must extend that to others.

3) The means of the church:

The love, faith, concern and professional skills of people of faith in the global church are resources that can and should be mobilized and coordinated to fight the evil of trafficking and to help the exploited find healing.

4) The Church as Community:

Trafficked victims are rescued from a community, a destructive one, but they need a community of care where they can belong and find healing. It will take entire churches to commit to abolition in order to over come modern day slavery.

*One key point to this becoming a reality though, is remembering that we all need to work on coming to terms with how we view sex, especially if we intend to help victims who have been exploited.

chewie said...

Jason, you misunderstood my question. It's not should we, it's are we well-equipped. Traci makes a good point about community and people's expertise, but precisely _because_ we as a church have to come to terms with how we view sex makes me feel we're not the best ones up to the task. Now, what do we do with that? Hopefully we step up and deal with those views. It's really tough in these settings, tho. That's the challenge.

Jason said...

be open to learning while moving and trust God to use us in spite of ourselves is prolly a good place to start

jeff said...

a few thoughts...

- i'm kind of confused as to how this whole thing got sidetracked onto pornography when the question was how to prevent trafficking - i know they're related but it seems like the focus of the conversation became porn and not trafficking

- Chewie, while i agree that we interpret all Scripture, find me someone who interprets the totality of Scripture to say pornography's is ok... Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount can't be interpreted to say anything other than if you look at a woman who isn't your wife with lust (pornography), you have committed adultery with her... they just can't be interpreted a different way

- is this discussion similar to the debate about prayer in schools? the whole 'you can't legislate morality' argument?

- God created sex to be the ultimate expression of physical and emotional intimacy between a husband and wife. everything we engage in sexually outside of that, including prostitution and pornography, works against us discovering what sex was meant to be.
Within the church, we ought to do everything we can to keep each other from violating God's commands and encouraging each other towards what God created us for. We should strive to get to the point where people outside the church think, 'man, i might not agree with those people, but they sure got sex and marriage right'.
I think the question is, how do we in the church influence people outside the church towards the sexuality God created them for? Because I think we're saying that when the drive is channeled to where it belongs, things like trafficking and prostitution and pornography will not be in demand.

- But lets get real, because that ain't gonna happen anytime soon, and the girls being trafficked and exploited can't wait that long. I do think porn contributes to the trafficking problem. I doubt many girls grew up thinking, 'I'd like to get into porn' or 'I'd really like to take my clothes off for men i don't know' and my sense is that once they get in it it's hard to get out of. And I think the demand for legal porn contributes to all the other demand. Chewie, you said all guys who look at porn don't go on to traffick girls or use prostitutes. That is true, but I would bet the large majority of men who exploit underage women, in any sense, start with soft-core, legal porn and it progresses from there.
That being said, i don't think you can legislate against pornography involving women who aren't minors. But when it comes to anything involving women who are minors, it is a justice issue and the church should be doing everything it can to advocate for those women and bring justice to the situation.

chewie said...

Jeff... to answer your question: Traci played a video on Thursday night that was basically making the argument "Porn is bad bad, very bad; Porn is the cause of human/child sex trafficking; Don't buy Porn". It attempted to solve the problem of human sex trafficking by attacking the demand for Porn. That's why we're talking about it.

Let me get this straight, so I understand... The Sermon on the Mount, and specifically the "new law" section, was given by Jesus to the religious leaders of the time. These religious leaders had set up an elaborate system of rules whereby, if they kept to such rules, they were holy; even if their intentions and what was in their hearts was evil. So Jesus gives a sermon where he gives many examples of what was permissible in their law, but takes it one giant step further in each case (to the absurd extreme in their context), pointing out that it's what's in our hearts that matters. So what's in your heart determines sin/no sin; rules are not effective. So from this passage, we are to take the undisputable rule that "pornography == sin", even tho, just a few posts earlier we established at least one example of pornography that we all seem to agree ISN'T sin. Did I follow that logic correctly? Oooo, wait! but if you make home-brewed Porn, it's only a matter of time before you'll get bored with it and need something else. something _more_ (evil laugh). Then you'll start watching commercial porn, which obviosly will lead to child prostitution. And you know what else leads to all of this? R-rated films... and PG-13... and PG and G! And bikinis! And going to the beach! Let's set up an elaborate set of rules on what we can and can't do to show the world how holy we are!

What about the rest of that passage? How come none of you guys are walking around with one eye? (I should be blind!) Has anyone ever objected to being sworn in to a court of law?!

Look, my point in making the counterarguments here isn't just to piss people off... this is draining for me too. I am not suggesting that you guys change your mind about how you view these matters for yourselves or even as a church. But if we are going combat the problem of human sex trafficking effectively, we HAVE to understand and accept that other people have different viewpoints. We have to understand the audience we are trying to reach. We have to focus on the solution to the problem as it exists.

The posts on here seem to take the view that first we all agree on what healthy sex means as Christians (good luck!), then we move forward with a solution that basically breaks down as 1.) Get the victims and the abusers to agree with "God" (ie: us) about sex. 2.) Then we affect change for human sex trafficking because the demand for it will abate.

I'm just saying that a better, more effective, and more universal approach would not make step 2 contingent on step 1. We all agree that human trafficking of any kind is bad. Most of our audience would agree on that. But most church people can't seem get past step 1... it's somehow an affront to their faith. Or their desires to control the sexual behavior of others. So once again, I ask the question: Is the church the _best_ vehicle for combating this problem? From my viewpoint, people get hysterical about this topic. Hysterics is not a good base for effective solutions.

jonathan said...

God's word is the absolute authority - while I agree there are verses that are open for interpretation, and I am willing to debate those anytime, most are not. The problem here is that you are implying that all verses are open to interpretation, therefore are not applicable, and so we'll debate our opinions - which have no basis of absolute truth. This is a useless debate, and without the foundation of God's truth - I can say that those opinions are worthless.

I said earlier thought that I was disappointed that we never got to talk about solutions to the problem Traci presented, and I've yet to do that in this discussion. So, I'm moving on.

I am hesitant to buy into ideas that attempt to change mans moral downfalls outside of Gods plan of grace. We are talking about problems of the heart - and I believe there is only one solution to that.

A campaign or effort that attempts to appeal to mans good nature and asks them to stop doing these things because they are 'wrong' seems like it would fail as these men dont have a basis of truth as to what is 'wrong'

So - what to do in 'the mean time' until God changes their hearts? I'm not the kind of person willing to sit back and wait - I want to respond. I would suggest that instead of trying in vain to change their morals (outside of God changing their lives), change the price of their decisions:

- Legislative efforts to increase the penalty. (think Jessicas Law)

- Stop allowing these people to exist in the shadows. Make it known to people where this stuff happens, and make it public who goes there. Perhaps if people knew they couldn't do this in secret - their 'moral standard' would be different. Men would second guess their decision to travel to Asia to have sex with 8 year old boys if they knew they would return to finding their picture in the local newspaper.

- Assist law enforcement in enforcing the laws we have - many law enforcement organizations lack the resources to really go after this stuff. With assistance from citizens in identifying traffickers, law enforcement could prosecute cases that would normally be missed.

Any other ideas on 'changing the cost' equation? No more existing in the shadows.

Jonathan

jonathan said...

Shameless plug for an organization that works in this way with law enforcement:

http://www.exposingthetraffic.org/

traci said...

After talking with several of you today, reading Jonathan's blog post and just coming back from the SCTNow Rally. I think we can actually move forward on one of the consistent things that seems to speak to combating the demand for child sex trafficking in the US and Abroad!!

The SCTNow organization's strategy is to work with a special opps team that is made up of Navy Seals, XMilitary and Intelligence folks and fund teams that can build cases for prosecution for those perpetuating the sex trade in the US.

From what I have learned, there have been arrests in child sex trafficking, but to this date, NO convictions. One of the reasons this flys beneath the radar is that there is not funding or awarenss calling for law enforcement or others to do anything about it.

The goal of the walk in September and the funds raised for this walk will go specifically to fund the opps teams who are gathering this information. The idea is that once people start getting 25-30 years the demand will decrease.

I still think people's hearts need to change on sexual issues in general, but working with sctnow.org, raising money and awareness about the reality of sex trafficking can and will make a difference.

So, please join the Justice and Jubilee team and start raising money. if you can't walk, donate, tell your friends, twitter, facebook, etc. We need to build awareness!