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.  

 

News & Notes This Week

When the Gospel Hits Home (The Gospel Coalition)
Brené Brown: Be the adult you want your children to be (The Washington Post)
New films speak for the ‘Innocents,’ victims of human trafficking (Deseret News)
Falcone-Codding: U.S. must take the lead in stopping slave trade (Norwich Bulletin)
How Hookers for Jesus Founder Turned Away From Sex Trade to Serving God (The Christian Post)
Sex for sale: sex trafficking in Ohio (The Guardian)
Officials warn kids about child porn charges in underage sexting cases (Wate.com)
Sex trafficking now an ‘epidemic’ (The Washington Times)

My View on ‘My View’

by Haley Ashworth 

Recently, the Deseret News published an opinion piece by John Harmer, who speaks out loudly against our society’s indifference to the sex trafficking and pornography epidemic.  Harmer is only one man, but hopefully his voice will be amplified with this article.  It is refreshing to see someone else who recognizes the connections between pornography and the horrendous sex crimes being committed, especially someone who seems to be so in line with the mission of pureHOPE.  Harmer uses the specific tragedies of two young girls’ murders to point to the more universal problem of the acceptance of porn.  Both girls were raped and then murdered in ways that reenacted hardcore child pornography.  Sadly, these are not isolated cases; you can learn more about the effects of porn here.

In the article, Harmer asks, “So who killed Destiny Norton and Sierra Newbold?  We all did.  We did it with our passive shrug of the shoulders for the continuing production and distribution of materials that cannot be described in this newspaper.”  Admitting to this truth is crucial for a change to take place, and we can start by looking inward.

I know not all of us support or view pornography, but that is not enough.  To the millions of men, women, and children enslaved in the sex industry, it is not enough that we abstain from buying them.  We must be their voices and advocates.  In Isaiah 1, we are told to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed.”  This is more than an issue of abstinence.  It is a command to proactively pursue justice for those who do not have it.

Until we take a stand against the apathy of our culture, things will stay the same.  According to Brent Ward, a man who used to be the U.S. Attorney for Utah and head of the anti-pornography unit for the Dept. of Justice, the reason the government cannot help with this issue “is because there is no mandate from the people to deal with it.”  We cannot expect our government to fix a problem if our society doesn’t consider it to be a problem at all.  Let us begin to seek justice and avoid apathy, gain wisdom and understanding, and encourage others to make a difference. The pureJUSTICE Bible study is a great place to start.

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Haley Ashworth is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University and is currently serving as a 2012 pureJUSTICE intern.

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.”

Continue reading

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

New Beginnings: A Summer of pureHOPE

by Margaret Fox

When I applied for the pureJUSTICE internship, my exposure to the issue of sex trafficking had occurred only in an academic setting.  I believed my work here would be a small effort on behalf of a great but distant cause, with few implications for my day-to-day.

How wrong I was.

During our orientation, interns watched a documentary about the evils of the global sex trafficking industry.  A prominent part of the film involved interviews with several women who escaped sexual exploitation and found salvation in Christ.  They expressed how their time as sex workers had left them emotionally shattered, shamed, and full of self-hatred.  As I listened to the interviews, I was shocked at how closely I identified with these women.  The emotions they expressed—feelings of worthlessness and despair—these were things I had been writing about myself in my journal for years.  These women were me.

But how could that be?  I have never been subjected to the traumatic experiences they endured.  I come from a comfortable home, have the blessings of family, security, and a good education.  Not to mention involvement in a vibrant faith community and the comfort of an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord.  How could I suffer from the same crippling despair?

It turns out Satan is not limited to exceptional circumstances.  In the past two years, my own struggles with sexual sin, as well as two painful breakups, had left me on my knees trying to gather up pieces of my integrity and self-confidence.  I arrived at pureHOPE already scraped up by the effort.  By the end of the first week, however, I had discovered that the organization is true to its name: by being part of a caring staff who pray for one another and study God’s word together, I was encouraged.  Every day spent working and laughing with the interns, others my age who love the Lord, the sun shined a bit brighter.

pureHOPE’s mission, too, cut straight to my heart, for it’s all about renewal.  Purity is not the absence of something bad but the presence of something good—a joyful, wholehearted journey toward God.  After working here only a few weeks, I feel confirmed in a valuable lesson: I am not alone in sin, and healing is possible.   Moreover, not only is healing possible, healing is inevitable with Jesus.  For, in Christ, the truth becomes obvious where it was once discerned only with difficulty, if at all. Continue reading

Porn Trafficking

by Noel Bouché

Sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.”  This definition would seem to describe precisely the workday world of porn producers.  The more disturbing inquiry is whether “severe” forms of sex trafficking—defined by U.S. law as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel the sex act, or where the person performing the sex act is under 18—are prevalent in the production of pornography.  The answer, according to some, is “yes.”

Over the decades, research into the inner-workings of the industry has turned up evidence of the employment of psychological coercion and sometimes physical force to compel performance.  Testimony to that end does not appear to be infrequent. As Shelley Lubben, a former pornography performer, has publicly testified: “Women are lured in, coerced and forced to do sex acts they never agreed to do…[and given] drugs and alcohol to help get through hardcore scenes…. The porn industry is modern-day slavery.”  Pornography itself, it would seem, must come in for criticism from and opposition by those who would oppose the injustice of sex trafficking.  The false distinctions between pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking are becoming increasingly untenable, even as the presence of porn becomes increasingly inescapable.

Pornography does not fuel the global sex trade by its mere existence.  It drives demand by creeping into the mainstream of a society, and thus into every community, every home, every family, and every life.  Pornography in the digital age is a multi-billion dollar industry because it is everywhere, all the time.

Click here to continue reading Exploited

Noel Bouché serves as Vice President of pureHOPE.  He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, and was a litigation attorney prior to joining the ministry of pureHOPE.  He and his wife are the parents of two young daughters.