Let me say a great big thank you for the positive feedback I received from many of you concerning my July Director’s article. It was considered to be a very controversial topic by some, so thank you for the positive feedback!
Now, on to another controversial topic I find very disturbing.
Last week while I was in Dallas attending a conference hosted by the Governor’s office concerning maximizing partnerships in combating child sex trafficking, I was horrified to see a story on the news of a pastor at a church in the area who was arrested for solicitation. He paid $80.00 to an undercover Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Vice Officer. Yes, my first response was disgust and then anger and then sadness. While grace is there for the man and his obvious brokenness, the question of how this is possible came to mind. So today I’m trying to organize my thoughts of disgust and anger and sadness not on the man and his motives nor his lack of discipline, but to the apathy and ambivalence about sexual exploitation that seems to run through some churches and their leadership.
How does this happen?
First point of disgust and anger and sadness. I remember reaching out to this particular church about doing a human trafficking awareness event for their staff and congregation. I was informed promptly that they were not interested in an event since none of their ministries focus in this area and were not concerned with the local issue. And what is unnerving is that this is the attitude of many churches. I assume this position with this particular church may have changed now since it has affected them locally and directly. How?
Second point of disgust and anger and sadness. I was curious as to the number of pastors who have been charged with solicitation. In 2017, six different pastors from across the country have been picked up for solicitation. Two of those in Montgomery County, Texas, and two different pastors from other states were involved in children’s or youth ministry and were both charged with solicitation of a minor. Again, how?
Third point of disgust and anger and sadness. I think the old saying, “An ounce of prevention…” speaks to this issue. Ignorance does not absolve the problem, nor the trauma caused to those women who have been abused by those in trusted positions. I firmly believe in the power of knowledge, and knowing about the realities of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, will be the way men come to the truth in becoming protectors of women rather than abusers. I also have the belief that too many men, especially young men are coming to a false knowledge about sex and the value of women by how the media portrays women. There are two categories to this thought: 1) the objectification of women as a satisfaction of men’s desire, and 2) a commodity to be owned or used. Because the power of lust is so powerful and sexual sin so compelling, it causes many men to struggle with control and view of their sexuality and the view of women. The difficulty in this struggle is compounded by constant bombardment with the abundance of perverse images and messaging and perceived accessibility to avenues of sexual satisfaction. This is why Paul uses the word “flee” in 1 Corinthians 6:18. To me flee means to escape with desperateness; a running from impending doom or one will be destroyed. Again, HOW?
I think the answer to these “how” questions can be found in 2 Timothy 4:3-5.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
While I understand the full meaning and the context of this passage, it speaks to the reality of what I have seen and heard relating to personal, cultural or societal views of commercial sex. I believe our culture has allowed the media in all of its forms to become our teacher, and this teacher has accelerated the ability for many to pursue unnatural passions based on myths. And the myths about commercial sex abound, from the abundance of opportunity to the false reality that “these women want to have sex with whoever pays them…”
It is time we in the church come to a “sober-minded” view to the reality of sex trafficking. This New Testament Greek meaning to the word “sober” has nothing to do with alcohol. It has to do with a calm, focused and controlled mindset.1 Our mindset should be clear so we may evangelize, not exploit.
Again, I’m not writing this to shame any one person or any one church; it is simply to charge churches and their leadership to take a more proactive stance on being trained and raised up to be an answer to problem of exploitation, not to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. It is time for the church to be serious, and I mean serious to this problem. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8.
If you made it to the end of this article, I want to challenge you to go to your senior pastor and challenge him to contact me about having us come in and educate your church and the staff to the reality of sex trafficking and the damaging effects of trauma on the victims of exploitation. We must be educated in order to be engaged in the fight and be a proactive solution and so fulfill our ministry.
Thank you and blessings,
1 – https://www.bibleref.com/2-Timothy/4/2-Timothy-4-5.html