I grew up in the church and never once heard about human trafficking from the pulpit. I could also count on one hand the number of times I listened to a message in which pornography was discussed. This year I became painfully aware of the issue of sex-trafficking, and as I learned more about it, I wondered where the church was in all of this.
First of all, let me link pornography and the sex-trafficking industry because it isn't always obvious. Pornography comes from the Greek word porne, meaning "prostituted woman" or "prostitution." If we can begin to understand that what is depicted in pornography is not simply sex or sexuality but commercial sexual exploitation, we can begin to really comprehend the negative effects of this content. Here are some alarming statistics from Fight The New Drug, an organization committed to raising awareness about the harmful effects of pornography:
Nearly half of sex-trafficking victims report that pornography was made of them while they were in bondage.
In 2015, 4,300,000,000 hours of pornography were viewed on a single website. Multiply that number over the many pornographic websites available and you have some staggering statistics.
88% of pornographic scenes depict violence or aggression. In most of these scenes the woman is shown as either enjoying or neutral to the violence being perpetrated against her.
When a person is viewing pornography, they are directly perpetuating the continued exploitation of women and children. While not all women in the pornography industry have been trafficked, all children have. In addition, many of the women viewed in pornography have been coerced into the industry through false promises and threats.
Before the church can be a part of the solution to sex-trafficking, they need to recognize and address the ways in which they are part of the problem.
American Family Radio reported a study in which 68% of church-going men admitted to viewing pornography on a regular basis. More shockingly, 50% of pastors did as well. Researchers have connected viewing pornography to brain chemistry changes, broken relationships and destroyed families.
If this is true, and we know that women and children are being forced into performing illegal sex acts to meet this demand, why isn't the church decrying a stop to this?
Demand Abolition is an organization committed to ending the illegal commercial sex industry in the United States by combating the demand for purchased sex. Through raising awareness and working with legislators to create laws to hold buyers accountable, they hope to put a halt to the sex trade industry. If there is no demand, there will be no industry.
Isn't it time for the church to become part of the conversation? Let's encourage our leaders to take a stand against human trafficking and to boldly speak about the negative effects of pornography. Perhaps it's time for support groups to be formed to meet the needs of those who have been victimized and counseling services to those trapped in porn addiction. Ask your church leadership to add anti-trafficking organizations to the list of missions funded by the church. Let’s get a discussion going about how we can make a difference.
In the meantime, I'd encourage you to go to www.fightthenewdrug.com and watch their brief videos on the negative effects of pornography. Then, have a conversation with your kids about it. I know I'm going to.