A Masculine InsurgencySocial Justice — By Tomas Pere on March 6, 2012 at 8:00 am
Experts estimate that there are at least 100,000 American kids at risk of being trapped in sexual slavery every year. I believe there are at least 100,000 American men who would respond, “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
Well men, you do.
Technical terms like “commercially sexually exploited youth,” obscure the truth: men are raping kids in America and others are profiting from it. It has been more than two years now since I devoted myself full-time to figuring out how to help men stop this evil, and in many ways I have more questions than answers. But I have learned a few things and I want to share them with you in the hope that my story will draw other men to the fight.
#1. Because men create the problem, better men will have to solve it.
This is a supply-and-demand issue. By and large, men demand kids for sex and other men supply the demand. Leaders in the anti-trafficking movement agree that if men are not mobilized in significantly large numbers to leverage their cultural, political, financial, moral, and spiritual power against the sexual commodification of women and children, the best we can hope for is to get good at treating victims and prosecuting victimizers. Better men agree, that this is simply an unacceptable outcome.
But lying just under the surface like a vast oil reserve is a huge un-tapped source for change; the men of the Church. I say this only because of the moral authority we claim as followers of a God who is and always has been on the side of the vulnerable and oppressed. Ending demand is simply what Jesus would have His men do. This doesn’t preclude us from seeking the active partnership of those outside the Christian faith. This issue transcends religious, cultural, generational and political boundaries. In fact, wherever you see real progress being made in this struggle, you will find the Faith community working in earnest partnership with her wider community. What’s lacking is a large scale, movement of Christian men in support of these efforts.
#2: We don’t need to pray about this.
James questioned the veracity of a faith that fails to meet a practical need when it’s within one’s power to do so. When we respond with a clichéd spiritual response like “…be warm and well fed.” James asks, rhetorically “What good is it?” Perhaps the worst thing men can do about human trafficking is respond with the same disingenuous piety. “Let me pray about it,” some say. I say, rather than pray, read the Bible (try Ps. 10, Isaiah 59, Ezekiel 22, or James 1:27) Then pray; not about whether you should get in the fight, simply HOW. But be warned; this will be confusing and costly for you as a man. It will take you on a difficult journey. Along the way you’ll be shocked, you’ll get angry; you’ll be fearful and reluctant. Getting in this fight will force you to face your own personal demons. But you can…you must see it through. You are desperately needed. You don’t need to pray. You need to act.
#3: Our sexual struggles shouldn’t keep us from the fight only influence our strategy.
One national leader on the issue told me in no uncertain terms that chronic sexual sin is a cancer eating the Church alive. The sexual pathology of our world is real, pandemic and devastating. Thankfully there are more and more tools and ministries being developed to bring health and healing to those ravaged by this evil.
But while I’m grateful for the presence of groups like Pure Desire and the help and support they bring to struggling men, I’m reminded that these are defensive weapons. The Gospel however, is fundamentally an offensive strategy. Jesus said the “gates of hell will not prevail against His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:18) Those gates are hung on the posts of lust and greed and they hold countless children captive. That means that it’s not enough to simply avoid sexual immorality. We’re called to combat the source of that immorality especially when it threatens the vulnerable. And we have to come to grips with the fact that our indifference to or direct engagement in any from of commercial sex (porn, strip clubs etc.) perpetuates a culture that makes victims out of children.
#4: We’re coming late to the fight.
For more than a decade, passionate and dedicated women have done much of the heavy lifting in the anti-trafficking movement. Men have been conspicuous in their absence. Therefore out of respect for the work that’s already been done, it’s vital that we engage the fight without any notion that we’re here to rescue or save the day. Women have been doing that for years. Our job is simply to do what honorable men have always done; step up, sacrifice and serve.
Furthermore, it behooves us as Christian men to heed Paul’s words that “…our attitude should be the same as that of Christ…” (Phil. 2) Our involvement should be defined by humility; less like Mel Gibson in Braveheart and more like Michael Oher in Blindside. But don’t kid yourself. Just showing up won’t make the problem go away; it will take the rest of our lives (and then some) to rid our culture of this evil. And it will demand courage; as men confronting our sexualized culture that objectifies the vulnerable, we’re going to have to look honestly at our own frailty and weakness. We need to learn what King David learned; that the only path to usefulness was through a “…broken and contrite heart.” (Ps. 51)
#5: This is really, really hard, not impossible.
Ending the demand for prostituted kids in America by mobilizing large numbers of better men is a monumental task and a direct challenge to the commercial sex industry that drives this demand. Such a challenge will not go un-met by those threatened by our resolve. We’re talking about fighting an intractable enemy; one with enormous power and wealth. But I’m inspired by the Old Testament story of Caleb. Remember he and Joshua gave the minority report; “let’s do what God called told us to do.” But the majority won…and died in the wilderness. Then Caleb, one of the remaining two members of that generation, came to Joshua and demanded that he be allowed to finish what the they started 45 years earlier. He said in effect, “let me do what God told us to do…let me get in this fight…” Then he makes a most interesting statement; “assuming God is with me, I will conquer…” (Josh. 14:12) He assumed that God’s word still mattered, that His promises still counted and that His calling was still binding. Brothers, it’s no different for us today. If we’re going to win this battle, we have to be willing to make Caleb’s assumption.
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority. Nothing less than an armed rebellion by men- armed with truth, conviction and a plan – against the constituted power and influence of our pornified culture will turn the tide in the battle against human trafficking. Now is the time for a masculine insurgency. Is this hard? Yes. Will it cost us? Certainly. Is there risk? You bet. But assuming the Lord is with us, we will conquer. We must.