How Should the Church Combat Sex Trafficking?
Modern day slavery is a sad reality, but, nonetheless, it is a reality. The International Labor Organization has estimated there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims globally, with sex trafficking accounting for roughly 58% of the cases reported. They have also estimated approximately 500,000 to 600,000 new victims of sex trafficking every year. To be clear, these are conservative estimates when compared with others.
I believe that it is the Church’s job to shine God’s light where there is darkness and bring God’s kingdom where there is brokenness by helping those in need. Surely, this is an issue full of darkness and brokenness that the Church must address.
There are four actions the Church can take to combat this global tragedy of sex trafficking: advocate, support, address, and pray.
Advocacy does not fix a problem like this, but it is the first step. After all, how can anyone help prevent sex trafficking if they don’t know about it?
People realize that sex trafficking is a horrendous evil, and many also know that it is extraordinarily prevalent. What they may not know is what God, through His church, is doing and should be doing about it.
There is a great deal of complacency and apathy in the American Church regarding the atrocities in our world. Just the other day in class, my friend, who I know to be an active christian, noticed a sticker on my laptop which reads “End Slavery in Our Lifetime.” She commented that it’s a nice thought, but that slavery will always be around. I reminded her that it’s our job to do something about that.
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
Advocacy that gives hope and points to an even brighter future hope is the type of advocacy the Church needs to participate in. This drives people out of their complacency to truly be a part of what God is doing. We need to be telling our congregations and community groups: “Sex Trafficking is a major problem, but you can help do something about it.”
There is no need for every church community to launch their own ministry to fight sex trafficking; rather, every church should be open and willing to support and partner with existing effective ministries.
Reputable ministries such as International Justice Mission and Agape International Missions have been effective in the fight against sex trafficking. There are additionally countless smaller local ministries which are leading the fight in our own communities. Churches and individuals supporting and giving to such ministries will go a long way. Besides just donating, Christians should consider going on mission trips or even employing these ministries.
The Church’s vocal activism can help support programs which hinder sex trafficking. 2017’s “Speak Up,” a day dedicated to tweeting, emailing, and calling members of congress, was utilized for several questionable social issues. However, it also proved determinate in the US government continuing to allocate funds to “The Program to End Modern Slavery,” a federal program allocated with $75 million which is used to give grants to non-government organizations and conduct research into methodologies to further impede human trafficking.
When examining the results of the “Speak Up” campaign, it is evident that contacting legislators can make a difference. So, the Church needs to continue to be a voice in her communities. Reaching out to federal and local government leaders is a practice that too few churches undertake, but one that can have even more fruitful effects for bringing justice to the oppressed.
Being voices and influencers in our communities as well as donating and partnering with effective programs and organizations may seem to be insignificant efforts. However, it is often small gestures which spark greater involvement and thus significant change.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”
While it is encouraging to that this conversation is increasingly common in church settings, there is still too much timidity amongst Christians to talk about our sexual struggles. However, in order to combat sex trafficking, the pornography industry must be addressed by the Church.
It is likely not surprising to read that three out of every ten men between the ages of eighteen and thirty admit to viewing pornography daily, or that $3,075.64 is spent on internet pornography every second. However, what may be surprising to read, is the intimate link the pornography industry has to sex trafficking. The 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report shows pornography was utilized in 87.7% of sex trafficking cases active in 2018. With the legal leniency pornography websites are given, experts have concluded that the pornography industry and the sex trafficking industry are closely connected.
Therefore, fighting sex trafficking should entail helping our brothers and sisters with their pornography problems and fighting against the pornography industry in America. However, preaching “pull your pants up and be a man,” as has been the trend previously, has proven ineffectual. This approach places too much emphasis on the agency of the individual who only God has the power to sanctify.
We need to implement real accountability groups. Safe places where Christians of the same gender can share openly about their struggles in order to help free them from the snare of pornograpy. There are a number of programs and curriculum that have been seen to have positive results which churches and small groups can utilize. A few of these being Covenant Eyes, the 3x Church, and Conquer Series. Using these resources in order to have real accountability are strategies in waging war against the flesh. Means by which we allow the Holy Spirit to further work in our hearts.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
-1 Peter 2:11
This abstaining from pornography will not only change the possible devalued mental or subconscious attitude towards the opposite sex that often occupancies pornography consumption, but it will genuinely affect the supply and demand of the sex trafficking industry. Which will significantly hinder the enormity.
I recently attended the Gospel Coalition National Conference where I had the privilege of listening to a panel discussion with some of the leading pastors in China. When asked what the number one thing Christians in America can do to help them, one of the men said, “three things: pray, pray, pray.” When asked how the Church should fight human trafficking, I echo the plea of the Chinese pastor.
Pray, pray, pray.
Pray that people will understand that they can do something about the problem. Pray for the organizations and programs that are leading the fight against human trafficking. Pray for Christians to crucify their flesh and to throw off the pornography which so easily entangles them. Pray for the hearts of the traffickers who are exploiting their victims. Pray that God would show justice. Pray for God to move. Pray.
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”