by Margaret Fox
Lately it seems everyone is talking about human trafficking. On my own college campus alone, two conferences and multiple public lectures have addressed the topic over the past year, not to mention an entire spring course dealing with slavery in the modern world. A student organization has been handing out bracelets to support the cause. On the national level, policy makers are tripping over one another to put forth anti-trafficking legislation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a campaign to recognize and address the issue here in our own country, and the federal government recently added the United States to its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
How do we as Christians fit into this cause? Our God calls us to seek justice, for His heart is with the downtrodden and oppressed. He calls us to proclaim the truth in a broken world, and to serve others with love and compassion.
But besides reaching people through churches, what are we as Christians bringing to the table? Everything we do, we ought to do as a witness to the glory and goodness of God. That means the way we walk, talk, act, and fight injustice should be uniquely reflective of Christ in a way the secular world’s actions aren’t. How will our efforts in the face of this treacherous evil look different?
We call it what it is: Evil. Most of the world may shy away from such polarizing language, but watering down the issue with cultural relativism does nothing but weaken the offensive. In a society that asks, with Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), we need to be ready to answer.
We see the bigger picture: The same sin at work in the hearts of sex buyers and traffickers is present in our own hearts. We cannot treat this as a far-off cause, without acknowledging that our individual actions contribute to a sexualized culture, aggravating the demand which drives the commercial sex industry. As Christians we need to do more than point fingers; we need to turn off pornography and root out sexual sin in our own lives through repentance, confession, and authentic relationship.
We believe in change: The secular world wants to save the victims and demonize offenders. As Christians we need to see that offenders are enslaved too. We cannot forget to call for the repentance and reform of the traffickers, and receive them with grace when they do so. Remember John Newton, a nineteenth-century slave trader who repented—he went on to write one of the most popular hymns of all time and to mentor William Wilberforce, the leading figure in the British abolitionist movement! The healed, renewed world we envision must include those who have perpetuated evil, alongside those who have suffered from it. In Christ’s Kingdom there is room for both the lion and the lamb. (Click here to watch Jacob’s story of transformation from the role of trafficker to that of rescuer).
Praise God that people are awakening to the realities of sex trafficking. Praise Him for initiatives, organizations, and laws that further the pursuit of justice. But let us never forget the surpassing value of the treasure we, as Christians, have to offer in the gospel. Remember that a broken world cannot heal itself; true justice will only come with the just and merciful King of Kings.
Margaret Fox is a senior at Princeton University and is currently serving as a 2012 pureJUSTICE intern.