Yes, Christians Should Care

Should Christians care about prostitutes?

Prostitution

Tony Bock,News services

A young woman works the corner of Gerrard and Jarvis Streets in Toronto in 2009.
By Royal Hamel

 

Just over a week ago a small group of us met in a private home to discuss prostitution in Canada. After light refreshments we viewed a 40 minute documentary, entitled Hope for the Sold(widely accessible on the internet).

This outstanding video provided us with the basic facts of prostitution and sex trafficking in Canada. For me the most compelling truth was this: Women and children do not willingly go into the sex trade — rather they are seduced, tricked, addicted, threatened, beaten, raped and psychologically broken down until they comply with the demands of their oppressor.

MP Joy Smith noted that we need to change our language. Rather than speaking of “prostitutes,” she calls us to speak of “prostituted women,” which speaks to the reality that the vast majority are victims. They are victims of one form of oppression or another, and often those who exploit them earn vast sums of money from the sale of their bodies.

Sadly, many Christians will wonder why I chose to write this article — they will see it as misplaced concern, not part of our Christian mission, and definitely too political. They are wrong. Christ has called his followers to be salt and light in the society in which they live. Over and over the New Testament calls those who believe to carry out good works. We are called to seek justice and to practise mercy.

Prostitution is not the world’s oldest profession. Rather, it should be called the world’s oldest form of oppression. And when we realize that the happy hooker of the movie, Pretty Woman, was a fiction, maybe we will begin to practise compassion to the multitudes of women and children who are under the control of merciless pimps.

We need to remember that former generations of Christians saw this scourge as oppression and acted against it. The Salvation Army, a staunchly Christian organization, was deeply involved in Victorian England in fighting it. They knew they had to be involved politically to make a dent against this evil and they did exactly that. Salvationists were involved and at least partially instrumental in the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. That law greatly curbed the sexual exploitation of women and children in that era.

I am encouraged to see the beginnings of a new wave of concern among Christians. The Christian and Missionary Alliance under the focus of, Defend Dignity, is mounting a campaign to address this issue. They want Canadians to embrace the Nordic model that has been in place in Sweden since 1999. Under this plan, the Johns seeking sex face criminal charges while the women are helped and motivated to get off the street and into a way of life that does not exploit them. The results in Sweden have been excellent with a 50 per cent curb on the number of women practising the trade.

Even locally, I see some hope that Christians are beginning to engage this issue. A new group with a long-range plan to open a home for prostituted women in Guelph has just put up its website at www.daybreakhaven.ca. They are just beginning, but their vision of doing good by rescuing some of these oppressed women is commendable.

Secular organizations like, Ndinawe, based in Winnipeg, seem to be doing excellent work in rescuing prostituted children from the streets. And, I don’t doubt there are many other secular groups that are addressing this noxious trade.

But, my chief concern is to address those who are followers of Christ. I consider that many have been deceived into doing nothing because they see this as a political thing. To them I would ask, “Is Jesus not Lord over every square inch of the universe?” And, if indeed, he is, then he is Lord over the sphere of politics as well. And if we ignore the plight of the oppressed prostitutes because we are caught up in the traditions of men we shall be judged. I call for believers to do some serious thinking; I call for all of us to do some serious repenting.

 

Royal Hamel is an ordained minister, a freelance journalist, and the author of Unmuzzle Your Inner Sheep (Word Alive Press). He can be reached at watchman2003@sympatico.ca

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