Stating the Obvious


by Noel Bouché

I’m having one of those days.  You know, one of those days when, for whatever reason, your tolerance for pretense, apathy, insincerity, superficiality, ignorance, and indifference is particularly low.  One of those days when you just want to, well, call a pole a pole.

So here goes.

Porn is evil.  It is prostitution, it is sex trafficking, and it exploits, it demeans, it corrodes, it poisons, and it is everywhere.  Including in your home.  Do something about it.

Sex is sacred.  God created it, blessed it, and speaks about it with a holy frankness and candor throughout Scripture.  You should too, and so should your pastor.

Marriage is beautiful.  Honor it, celebrate it, protect it, enjoy it, and fight for it.  Today.  The opportunity to do so will be there if you look for it.

Children and teens are being assaulted.  Pimps and traffickers have access to them 24/7. Especially the pimps and traffickers who moonlight as media executives.  Wake up and lead these beautiful young people to Jesus, who gave everything for them.

There.  Just had to unload that.  No footnotes, no citations, no references.  Thanks for listening.  Peace out.

Noel Bouché serves as Vice President of pureHOPE.  If you would like more straight-forward, no-poles-barred talk in 140 characters or less, you can follow him on Twitter @noelbouche.  


Sex and Shades of Grey – Part II

by Maria Marballi

I do believe that the Lord has this particular faction of young women on His heart: the abused turned prostitute.  When the gift of sex is broken in a young child, the image of sex polarizes from holy, to unholy: from beauty to evil, from pleasure to pain.  The image is tarnished, as they become victims of incest and abuse, each sitting solitarily in their rooms praying for the memories to magically disappear- for innocence to be restored.  Hands over their head, buried between their knees against the cold floor.  This is where many prostitutes begin their journey.

It’s grim to try and understand why exactly the abused return to a life of sexual entrapment, but we do know what God has to say.  “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).  And those that cause His little ones to stumble, often times stumbled themselves into the trap that dulls the mind like a drug: pornography.  It first appears a “small sin,” a mild impediment on the journey towards eternal life, however, slowly becomes an increasingly lofty barrier that grows superior with each opened window browser.  Some stories progress as an addiction obligated to be fed: an easy feat nowadays, I might add.  As the addicted stand before the mountain of compiled digitalized sexual experiences, they need more; they need the real thing.  Now what?

One in every three girls and one in every six boys are sexually abused by the time they blow out their eighteenth candle.  I am not one to provide a hard-fast rule on the progression from pornography viewer to abuser- however the viewing of such material creates an insatiable appetite that causes some to reach into the screen and grasp the experience only to place it on the obligatory shoulders of a child.  This is not to say that porn viewers become abusers, but rather that pedophiles have a history of viewing pornography more often than not- and my purpose is to understand the transition from bad to worse and how the worse manifests itself in the victim.

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News & Notes This Week

Sex and the Single Olympian: Lolo Jones Talks About Her Virginity (Christianity Today)
Cops Target Sex Slaves, Fear Women are Being Trafficked to Work as Prostitutes (Herald Sun)
Upstate NY Men Guilty of Child Porn Offenses (The Wall Street Journal)
5 Lessons Every Dad Needs to Teach His Son About Lust (Covenant Eyes)
Full Knowledge of Legal Consequences Doesn’t Stop Teens From Sexting (U.S. Politics Today)
Ohio’s Sex Trafficking Victims Often Teens Who Got Little Help (Toledo Blade)
Australian Prostitutes Can’t Be Banned From Motel, Court Rules (Huffington Post)
Accountability for the Long Haul: How My Husband Fights for Purity (Covenant Eyes)

Sex and Shades of Grey

by Maria Marballi

We love labels, don’t we?  We use them for just about everything.  One couldn’t possibly conquer a grocery list without the guidance of aisle indicators or product tags.  They create definite separations between finite categories that indeed need to be separated.  Cookies are in the snack aisle; shampoo in health and beauty.  Done. Here’s my money. Labels make things simple, clear-cut and require minimal high-caliber judgment on the part of the buyer.

Labels are so prevalent and flat-out necessary that we routinely use them to classify ethics.  Sharing is good; stealing is bad. Sincerity is good; lying is bad.  Porn is good; sex trafficking is bad.  I know what you’re thinking: what an unmistakably, unsubtle way to bring up sex.  But here I go.

What if I told you that labels, the very things that allow life to make sense, are also the reason life doesn’t make sense?  What if I told you that some of these labels could potentially be the most life-threatening ideal that many of us have learned to embrace?  While there is absolute truth, Christ-centered truth, man-made labels involving sex often have shades of grey that craftily sneak below the moral radar.  It is easy to believe that porn, prostitution, child abuse and sex trafficking have little to do with one another; however, they may have everything to do with each other, and it’s costing lives as I write.

Pornography is a 96 billion dollar per year industry.  Human trafficking: 32 billion dollars per year.  These numbers are not mutually exclusive; they are intricately woven into one another to create a web of sexual immorality and profit that is our culture today.  To succinctly summarize the far more complex issue on how these trades are related: trafficked women are often trained by porn and used in the production of porn.  Due to the fact that women are forced and coerced to perform sexual acts before the camera, therefore being trafficked, the demand for human slaves heavily stems from a desire to view increasing amounts of pornography.  While there are women that “willingly” enter into the industry drawn by the gilded depiction of glamour, many of them become victims of abuse, not knowing what they got themselves into- and even then there are not nearly enough volunteers.  They need to be manipulated, tricked and stolen.  They need drugs to finish up the day.  As an appetite for pornography increases, so will the amount of human slaves, because we are constantly imploring, “more.”

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Me, Myself and I: The Villain and the Victim

by Aszia Walker

“Apart from Christ, I am Osama bin Laden.  I am Hitler, Stalin, Mao.  Only by the virtue of Christ can I stand forgiven before a holy God.  This isn’t hyperbole; it’s biblical truth.  We’ll never appreciate Christ’s grace so long as we hold on to the proud illusion that we’re better than we are.  We flatter ourselves when we look at evil acts and say, ‘I would never do that.’  Daniel, a righteous man, came before God confessing the sins of his nation, not saying, ‘They have sinned,’ but, ‘We have sinned’ (Daniel 9:5).  He took full ownership for his own contribution to the problem of his nation’s sin.  So should we all.” – Randy Alcorn, The Goodness of God

Last year I began to notice my lack of empathy for others and my immense pride in myself.  So, I thought it might be a decent idea to pray about it and ask God to begin a transforming work in me.

Whoops.  He actually heard that prayer, and He has actually started teaching my heart about His heart.  The pureJUSTICE internship program has served as my most recent tutor.

Here I’m gaining a wealth of understanding about pornography, prostitution, and their correlations to human trafficking. But the most penetrating lesson thus far has been a personal lesson in humility and compassion as I am beginning to lose that proud illusion and self-flattery Alcorn refers to.

We’ve talked a lot about sexual lust and its widespread effects on the immorality and turmoil in our society today.  There are real-life villains doing atrocious things to innocent and unsuspecting women and children, and while perversion is an obvious driving factor of the sex trafficking industry, we have learned that still other motives for pimping women, trading humans, and possessing modern-day slaves are greed and the hunger for power and control.

Which brings me to the following confession:

I lust.  I get greedy, stingy.  And, I try to control everything.

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Just Your Average John

by Haley Ashworth

The majority of information on sex trafficking and the sex industry focuses on the women who are being exploited.  It is easy to find a typical profile for a woman caught in the sex industry, but what about the men that drive the industry—the consumers of women, the johns?  It is rare to see someone approaching the issue from that angle, and so I set out to see what research had been done.  How old are these men? Are they married?  Poor?  Wealthy?  Do they know the pain they are causing?  Do they care?

After searching through articles, research publications, blog posts, and fact sheets, I believe I have found the answers.  It is puzzling and saddening, but, for the most part, the men who have purchased women and children for their sexual use look almost indistinguishable from the rest of society, including the church. They are not dirty men in trench coats.  They are not desperate drug addicts. They are not societal outcasts who have little chance of a real relationship. The viewers of pornography, the buyers of prostitutes, the clients in strip clubs are, for the most part, just your average joe—or “john”, as it were.

Melissa Farley, a psychologist and founder of Prostitution Research & Education also noticed the lack of information on the johns and performed a research project to gather more data. Through interviews with two groups of men (buyers of sex and non-buyers), she gained and shared much insight into the differences between the two groups.  Farley reports that “sex buyers in the study used significantly more pornography than non-buyers,” demonstrating once again the link between sex trafficking and pornography (learn more about that here and here). The buyers of sex also admitted to being more violent with women, and according to the study were “nearly eight times as likely as non-buyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it.” This severe attitude of violence points to a cyclical pattern. Similar to the way a drug addict eventually needs harder narcotics to achieve a high, viewers of pornography gradually need more violent and “hardcore” images in order to be satisfied, eventually leading to a tolerance of violence towards women, even to the point where they desire to act it out.  Prostituted women are the perfect outlet for this because the men are in complete control. Continue reading