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.

Advocate

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.’”
-Deuteronomy 15:11

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.”

Support

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”
-Hebrews 10:24

Address

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.

Pray

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.”
-Psalm 107:13

Biblical Womanhood: A Complementarian View

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.

-Genesis 2:18

The role of women in the Church is an increasingly controversial topic, especially due to the rise of feminism in America. As the distinctions between men and women blur within our society, we must ask ourselves, how the Church can stand firm on the teaching of Scripture. As Christians, it is important to approach this conversation with grace and truth as we hope to display God’s unique order and design to the world. Furthermore, we hope to use God’s order of creation to further submit to Him. Therefore, it is essential to approach all Scripture with submissive hearts towards God and His will.

In the discussion of biblical femininity, we must be careful of the culture’s impact on the Church. Far too often, the culture surrounding the Church has often influenced the scriptural beliefs in an inappropriate way. However, we must avoid this, and rather let Scripture determine the Church’s view of the culture. We are reminded by Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

As Christians, Scripture must be our highest authority in both theological and social issues. Therefore, we must approach Scripture with the expectation of conforming to its demands rather than it conforming to ours. With that said, we will take a look at the creation of biblical womanhood in order to understand the role of women in the Church.

Role of Women

In order to see the ways in which women were uniquely created and to understand their role both in the Church and in the home, we can look to the passage Titus 2:3-5. Here Paul describes a woman’s role:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

In this text, we can see the encouragement and importance of female discipleship. Women are essential to the body of Christ in their support, encouragement, submission, and nurturing of male leadership. If God had created both genders as spiritual leaders, who would follow along in support and submission? Likewise, if God had not created man to be the leader, who would be given the responsibility to guide the church? In the Complementarian view, we can understand and see how both roles are needed and valued.  

Creation Order

The order of creation displays God’s intended structure. We see this in Genesis 2:18, which says:

This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.

In this passage, we see the order of creation and it is particularly important to note the order’s impact on gender roles. God created man first as the leader of the family, and woman next as the “helper” to encourage, nurture, and submit to her husband’s leadership. She is not to be above his leadership, at the head, nor below, at his feet. Instead, she was formed out of man’s rib cage, signifying the importance of her standing beside him as he leads and protects her.

Results of the Fall

Due to the fall of Adam, the roles between man and woman have often become twisted and corrupted. Genesis 3:16 describes a consequence of the fall, which states:

And the desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.

This short sentence shines light on the ongoing struggle between man and woman. The man was not meant to rule over a woman, but to lead her. However, due to the fall, men desire to, sinfully, rule over women. In addition, as a result of the fall, women have the sinful desire to take leadership over their husbands. Both of these distortions are present in the world today yet they are both unbiblical and twist the design of God’s original perfect creation.

Marriage

God created the union of marriage for the furtherance of His kingdom and to display His glory. We see this when Jesus’ relation to the Church is described similarly to that of a wife and husband.  Ephesians 5:22-23 highlights this truth as it states:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

In the context of marriage, Scripture commands wives to submit to godly leadership in a godly way. Christ is the example for husbands as he displays perfect leadership in love and a willingness to die for His bride, the Church. This type of sacrificial love is what husbands are called to in their leadership. Wives are called to respond to this Godly leadership in humility and support, submitting to the leadership and authority of their husbands.

To be clear, biblical leadership does not mean superiority. In the Trinitarian context, Christ submitted to his Father’s will (Phil 2, Mark 14:32-36) and yet Scripture is clear that Christ is not subordinate to the Father. In a similar way, a woman submits to her husband’s leadership, but this act of submission does not and cannot diminish her value.

Responsibilities & Role in the Church

With the role of women clearly outlined in Scripture, the Church must stand firm on the biblical teaching that a woman is not to teach or exercise the authority of Scripture over men in a pastoral setting. This is clearly outlined in the Pauline epistles (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12).

While this position may seem outdated, or even unnecessary, it is important to realize that this truth is both freeing and beneficial for both Christian men and women as well as the Church as a whole. Through Scripture, we see the Complementarian view of men and women clearly outlined. With God’s purposeful design of creation, the strengths of both men and women coincide and strengthen each other.

This does not mean, however, that women are not needed in ministry. Women are essential to the ministry and spread of the gospel, and we see this clearly in Scripture. The Bible speaks of many women such as Phoebe who were used in a mighty way to carry out the work of ministry. In fact, Paul speaks of Phoebe of highest regards in Romans 16:1-2 by stating,

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Throughout Scripture, it is clear that God has uniquely formed both genders to build and encourage one another. Godly submission is shown in the Trinity — an example of perfect, harmonious, community, but it is also shown in marriage. Submission in marriage does not determine one gender of inferiority. We can see this in the Trinitarian expression of submission, where the Father is not greater than the Son, but both are equally and fully God. Similarly, the husband is not greater than his wife. The husband is to be the leader, yet his wife, though equal to the husband, is to submit to the God-given responsibilities of nurturing, caring, and supporting her husband.

Do all Religions Lead to God?

The belief that all religions lead to God has become popular in our culture. This idea is known as pluralism. Pluralism teaches that multiple religions are equally truthful and acceptable because the core of any religion is to worship a god. This makes any form of worship directed toward any god of any religion just as valid as another.

For example, pluralism would suggest that Buddhists worship the same god as Christians, Muslims, and Hindus because there is a greater deity that accepts all forms of worship, not caring what beliefs you hold to as long as it leads to you worshiping the deity you believe to be correct. Pluralism has found its way into the churches of America and if Christians are unable to give a Biblical response to this growing trend, then Biblical doctrine will be diminished and may cause non-believers to hold a wrong view of God.

Why is Pluralism Incorrect?

Before noting the incompatibility of different religions, it is important to note the core issue of pluralistic thinking–relative truth. Relative truth is the denial of an absolute and ultimate truth. There is much to write about regarding relative truth; however, I will not go into much depth. The key principle to understanding relativism is that it is an endless cycle of contradiction. To state, “All truth is relative” is making an absolute claim that there are no absolutes.

Moral relativism simply offers a way out of reckoning absolute truth with reality, allowing all religions to be equally true. Moral relativism not only contradicts Scripture’s teaching, but logically does not make sense because it claims that all religions are equally true. From the Christian standpoint, there are key doctrines that other religions do not adhere to. This means that other religions are lacking the knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself through Scripture.

For example, Buddhists deny a personal god while Hindus believe in many gods. Mormons also believe in many different gods and only worship a few of those gods. The belief that the God of the Bible is triune in person while singular in being, has sent His only Son for the forgiveness of sin through His death, and was raised on the third day is a truth that cannot be sacrificed at the price of being loving, tolerant, and accepting of other religions. It is the key doctrinal element of Christianity that makes it unique.

In comparison to other monotheistic religions such as Islam and Judaism, there are fundamental doctrinal differences that separate them from Christianity, such as God’s attributes, character, and nature. It is simply illogical to state that all religions can lead to God when nearly every religion in history contradicts another one. Even from the perspective of a moral relativist, it is impossible for all religions to be equally true simply due to the numerous contradictions between them.

Why is the God of the Bible the only God?

The differences between Biblical Christianity and other religions are vast. Christianity is the only religion that gives a realistic view of who we are as humans (sinful), while other religions talk about salvation coming by human effort and inward goodness. Christianity is the only religion to teach that man is totally depraved and wicked from birth, yet has a Savior who offers grace freely based upon faith in Christ and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity is the only religion that teaches that the deity figure offered Himself up to bear the punishment of human sin and rose again so that we may be a new creation through Christ.

Biblically speaking, two verses give the explicit mention of Jesus being the only way. John 14:6 states, “Jesus said to [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12 states, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved (Jesus).” The pinnacle of the gospel is that God, being rich in mercy, provided what He demanded of us so that we can stand forgiven–the shed blood of Christ for sin. Christianity is based entirely upon the idea that everything needed for salvation has already been done for those who will believe and trust in Christ. Christianity says done while other religions say do. This is what distinguishes Christianity from any other religion.

Do all people who claim to be Christians worship Christ?

A final recognition still remains–one that I believe is more dangerous than believing in another religion. A rather harsh reality is that there are some people who claim to be Christians who do not worship God. Instead, they worship an idol. I cannot express enough that you are not a born-again believer simply because you claim the name of Christ. There are many people and denominations we consider under the umbrella of Christianity who do not know God. We share meals with these people. We have conversations with these people. We do life with these people. And all the while, we offer them false assurance of their relationship with Christ while they are on their way to eternal damnation because we neglected to tell them the truth of the gospel and of God.

This much is true–Christ, the second person of trinity, equal with the Father and the Spirit, was with the Father in creation (Col. 1:16-17), became the incarnate God-man, being fully God yet fully man, living a sinless and perfect life (Heb. 4:15), dying on a cross for the sins of those who believe (John 3:16), and raising on the third day to secure eternal salvation for those the Father had chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 4). Christianity is not about claiming a christ. Christianity is about knowing the Christ and His gospel. Friends, we must make Christ and the gospel clear.

Know Christ. Worship Christ. Follow Christ.

Pray that the Father, through the working of the Holy Spirit, will grant you the boldness and confidence to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for in him “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

In Christ,

Nicolas Olson

The Lord’s Prayer: A Gospel-Centered Prayer

Throughout history, prayer has often been misunderstood. Jesus himself critiqued certain methods of prayers during the Sermon on the Mount. The Pharisees prayed to receive honor and acclamation from others (Matthew 6:5) and the Gentiles prayed as part of their man-centered, pagan rituals (Matthew 6:7). In the effort to make their prayers effective, the Jews valued their own righteousness and the Gentiles valued their own dedication in prayer. Perhaps we struggle with the same things. Maybe we think God won’t hear our prayers if we sinned today or that only 30-minute prayers please God. Maybe we have been shamed or felt guilty for not praying enough. In any case, Jesus wants to radically shift the paradigm of how we view prayer.

Our Lord says to His disciples,

Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’
-Matthew 6:9-13

The Lord’s Prayer values simplicity, humility, and faith. In this article, we are going to walk through this prayer and analyze it through the lens of the Gospel.

Our Father In Heaven

One of the greatest privileges as a Christian is to call out to our heavenly Father. The way we became children of God was through Christ who was “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law…” (Galatians 4:4-5a). God the Son took on human flesh to redeem human flesh. Though we have disobeyed God’s Law and deserve death, Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law to be our righteousness before God and died the death we deserved “so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5b). When we go before God in prayer, we ought to never think our sins that we are currently struggling with keeps us from Him. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15). Our Father hears our prayers and begs us to approach Him as child would approach his earthly father.

Hallowed Be Your Name

This is a petition for God’s name to be honored and revered by the world, but also for God to exalt His name. God’s name ought to be honored and revered in prayer because He is holy. The holiness of God primarily refers to His divine transcendence. He is “set apart” from creation. He is uncreated and does not derive His existence from His creation. He created and sustains the universe by His power and not one atom moves apart from His sovereign hand (Isaiah 46:9-11). The holiness of God also refers to His moral purity. God is one who will “by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7). There must be complete justice for sin or else God’s holiness would be compromised. But God is merciful. The same God who decreed all things that would come to pass, decreed to save a people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9). Before the foundation of the world, in love, God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…” (Ephesians 1:5). God sent forth His Son so that, at the cross of Christ, the justice of God and the mercy of God would meet. This is why God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). For those who are in Christ, the One who reigns sovereign over all creation is for us (Romans 8:31) and “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). He loves us and infinitely cares about what His people experience in this life.

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven

The Kingdom of God is populated by the people of God who have ransomed by the blood of the King Himself, Jesus Christ. We live everyday under His divine rule as we strive for excellence in our everyday lives. The Kingdom of God is not advanced by militaristic might, but by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come because ultimately, we believe that He’s the one who removes hearts of stone and gives hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). The glorious thing is that He uses broken people like us to advance His Kingdom. We can pray with confidence for God’s will to be done, because He is sovereign. As we live in this world, knowing that we have received “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28), we can have hope as we evangelize, reform the church, and seek justice in this world, because one day, Christ will come again to consummate His Kingdom (Revelation 19:11-16).

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Though the prosperity gospel movement falsely promises health, wealth, and prosperity for all who believe in Jesus (and give money to the celebrity pastor preaching to them), we must not go to the opposite end of the spectrum, thinking that God has no concern for material reality. When God created the heavens and the earth, He called it good (Genesis 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Jesus, who came in both body and soul, came to redeem not just the soul, but the body as well, and to establish “a new heaven and a new earth” (Romans 8:23, Revelation 21:1). God cares about what we eat, where we live, and what we wear (Matthew 6:30-32). Yet He promises to give us what we need to advance His Kingdom, not extravagant gifts. The primary means by which God meets our needs is through the vocations God has given us to glorify His name as we live as sojourners and exiles in the “already, but not yet” period in redemptive history. In any case, we ought to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and trust our Father that “all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

And Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

If you have been a Christian long enough, you’ve realized that you’re still a sinner. Shocker, right? Day by day, “the desires of the flesh” and “the desires of the Spirit” wage war within us (Galatians 5:17). But it seems like we often lose the battle to the flesh. With Paul, we lament that we do not do what we want but the very thing that we hate (Romans 7:15) and keep on doing the very thing that we hate (Romans 7:19). We may be tempted to think that God will never forgive us after what we’ve done and even keep struggling with. If that’s you, then you’re the type of person Jesus came for. Romans 5:6 states, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Christ’s heart for wretched people like us did not cease at the cross. On the contrary, “he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). It’s the love of God that bids us to run back to Him in repentance. He hears our tearful prayers of repentance and He will not restrain His mercy from us (Psalm 40:11a). Though our sins may overtake us and be more than the hairs on our head (Psalm 40:12), God’s steadfast love and faithfulness will preserve us (Psalm 40:11b). The Christian life is characterized by the constant return to the cross for us to know that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Since we have received forgiveness from our gracious Father, how could we not in turn be gracious and forgive those who sin against us? We are commanded in Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” But then again, praise God that He forgives us infinitely better than we forgive our neighbors.

And L3ead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

It’s fitting to close a prayer that exalts the love, sovereignty, care, and forgiveness of God to petition to Him to go before us as we go back out into the world. There’s temptations and evil all around us for “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).” But our Father is not Satan that He would allow us to be devoured by the powers of darkness. We can rejoice because the Father sent the Son, who has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15). We have been united to the One who has conquered sin and death so that we’re no longer slaves to sin and death (Romans 6:5-11, John 11:25). The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to us so that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). If you are in Christ, you are in the hands of the triune God. Nothing is capable of separating us from Him (Romans 8:38).