::: WHEN IT'S HARD TO PRAY FOR ... THEM :::
"Jesus wants to give you five things: extravagant compassion, moral clarity, sacrificial courage, persevering hope, and refreshing joy." - Gary Haugen
What are we to make of the offender? The john, the pimp, the prostitution client, the parents that sold their 5-year old daughter to a trafficker, the patron at the strip club, the teacher obsessed with porn? Our world certainly doesn’t seem to be about mercy, certainly not extending it, especially to those who are in clear need OF mercy. It may not exactly be your first impulse to feel mercy towards men (and women) in these acts.
Here comes the disclaimer you may have come to recognize: over these years, the Holy Spirit has been illuminating my eyes, my heart, and moving my feet to the concept of justice, especially in regards to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, and I pray you will come alongside, gentle reader. I will be speaking in some candid, explicit terms, so if you’re a young adult, please ask permission before reading. Better yet, read it alongside an adult. Before going further, would you mind praying with me? Please pray that the Spirit will soften your heart and align it to His? That He will not be quenched, and that He’ll remain in your presence. Thanks for joining with me, bearing with me, all these weeks.
There is an illusion in the sex industry – it’s a farse, a lie, and the devil knows how to work it, really, really well. “What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.” – Proverbs 19:22. When we get right down to it, that’s the core, and that “love” is twisted, peverted, and synthesized to attain power and control over someone else, fill a lonely void in the cavern of a human soul with money or authority or status or pleasure.
But none of these things will last or satisfy. In a recent study by DePaul College of Law, “...most pimps are “average Joes” who were victims of sexual exploitation themselves … The majority of interviewees were victims of violence during their childhood. 88% of them said that they were physically abused in their childhood, and 76% of them said that they were victims of sexual abuse. 88% of them indicated that they grew up with domestic violence. 84% of them stated that they witnessed substance abuse in their home environment during their childhood.”
"Sex trafficking is like fire: fire needs fuel, oxygen, and ignition, otherwise it goes out. Trafficking needs vulnerability, criminal enterprise, and the market for sex to thrive." – Bret Mavrich
This is in no way watering down, excusing, or justifying these reprehensible actions, please hear me loud and clear, there must be consequences for wrong actions. Even in understanding this brand of evil, it’s still evil. A time will come when everyone will come to the realization of unrepentant sin. The medley of empathy and consequence, compassion, grace, and forgiveness has always perplexed me, something I find myself wrestling with. Maybe that’s why Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is so startling … and paradoxical. And that’s why I’m not the Judge. And I’m writing as someone who will be judged in the End.
We are not in the place of God. For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” – Hebrews 10:30. By the enablement of the Holy Spirit, as lovers of Christ, you and I both need to move from condemning to compassion, and to grapple in light of God and His Scriptures what that looks like in our daily lives, in our families, with our friends, our coworkers, our Twitter followers, and acquaintances in Facebooklandia.
Maybe some of you reading know John 3:16 by heart. Maybe you know it as the “Gospel in a Nutshell.” But read on …“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:17. And what about, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." – Matthew 5:7? It’s a lot easier to recite that Christ died for the pedophile locked in his sin just as much as he died for me. But to live in that mercy towards another human being who has hurt you, seeing each person as someone else’s child, as well as in the very image of the Father, is not easy. The fact alone that this can be so complicated, speaks to our human condition and to our reliance on Mercy Himself to enable His mercy in us. Joe Boot, an RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) adjunct associate and former RZIM director in Canada puts it well,
“Without an awareness of our fallen condition, there is no good news and consequently no conflict. Nevertheless, the pain, violence, and confusion that fill human experience demonstrate that the Bible tells us the truth about ourselves … Yet we must always be mindful that this is not a battle waged against human beings but against, “ the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” - Ephesians 6:12.
I guess this is what I’m saying: there’s a prisoner in a Thai go-go bar, a prisoner paying for the girl in the go-go bar, and a prisoner when we harbor bitterness and resentment and unforgiveness. We are all unfathomonably broken-up people, searching for meaning, in desperation for the Living Water. The misery we inflict upon each other can be unbearable. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe … It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galations 3:22, 5:1.
I appreciate what a man named Ohad, once a trafficker for 11 years, now married and working with vulnerable youth to prevent them from going into the sex industry says: “I’m ashamed that I used to be a person like that. I can’t even call myself a person. It’s sad. It’s really, really sad. But God is bigger than that. I was captive of one thing, she was captive of another thing. But God wants to set the captives free.”
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … “ – Isaiah 61:1.
Today, I implore you to pray for both the used AND the user, the exploited AND the exploiter. Perhaps you need to ask the Holy Spirit for the will to pray for the latter. Intercession for both is vital.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Matthew 9:13 ::: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6
If you’d like to read Holy Hen House’s five previous posts on the difficult, but crucial matter of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, they can be found here via these links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six. Thank you for taking the time to read and to pray.
<ps> I will be taking some time off from writing, but have been hoping to create a list of helpful resources on this topic for anyone interested. Maybe that time will come, maybe not. But I’d much rather let God pursue you and the resources He brings to your eyes in His time, as it came to light that it wasn’t in the making for this “last” post (trust me, you don’t want to read those loooong rambles, at least not yet, ha!). Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts or questions!