Posts tagged ‘Sex Trafficking’

Jeffrey Epstein and the Diminishment of Human Life

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Credit: Kat Wilcox from Pexels

As the evidence against Jeffrey Epstein continued to pile up, the circle of powerful men who counted him as acquaintances – or, depending on how one interprets the evidence, as close, personal friends – continued to expand. A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published an exposé on Mr. Epstein’s nebulous business partnership with Leslie Wexner, of Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch fame. Questions abound. Who among Mr. Epstein’s social and business associates knew about his alleged sex trafficking crimes? Was there anyone among these associates who participated in his purported despicable sexual acts with underage girls?

Regardless of who was involved with Mr. Epstein, this much seems certain: Mr. Epstein himself used his power and wealth to exploit and abuse the vulnerable. He viewed women as sex objects to which he was entitled.

Mr. Epstein’s crimes were grizzly and his actions were egregious. His attitude, however, is all too common. When sex becomes something to which a person feels entitled, he will use – and yes, even sickeningly abuse – others to get what he desires.

A Christian theology of relationships reminds us that from Adam and Eve on, relationships are gifts of grace. Adam did not receive Eve as his companion because he was entitled to her or deserving of her, but because God desired to bless him. Eve did not receive Adam as her companion because she was entitled to him or deserving of him, but because God desired to bless her. This reality should shape the way we relate to each other – not as commodities to be used, but as gifts to be cherished.

Sadly, how we relate to others does not always reflect God’s created order. Some men speak of woman as “notches in their belt.” Some women speak of men as “sugar daddies.” But our relational disfunction goes far deeper than a smattering of vulgar slurs. Resentment takes root in marriages when one spouse feels as though their partner is not “meeting their needs.” Fights break out when one person feels another is not “pulling their weight.” All of these things are indications that we often use each other selfishly instead of cherishing each other lovingly.

Clearly, what Mr. Epstein has allegedly done reaches far beyond the more mundane everyday disagreements and disputes people have in their relationships. But there are still lessons here for us to heed. First, diminishing the value of a person’s life may end with crimes like Mr. Epstein’s, but it can begin with something as simple and socially acceptable as a demanding spirit. So, be careful with your seemingly small selfish acts. Second, diminishing the value of another’s life ultimately degrades how you see your own life. This was certainly true of Mr. Epstein. He was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell on Saturday. When justice came for him because of his lack of regard for the lives of others, he despaired of his own.

Now would be a good time, then, to say “thank you” and “I love you” to your spouse, your children, your relatives, and your friends. Now would be a good time to cherish them in their humanity rather than treating them like a convenient commodity. After all, this is what Jesus did for you. He did not use you. Instead, He gave Himself for you. You are precious to Him.

Who’s precious to you? Make sure they know they are.

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August 12, 2019 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Humans: Never for Sale

Credit:  texasgopvote.com

Credit: texasgopvote.com

Shortly before the new year, The New York Times published a short, heartbreaking article featuring stories from U.S. sex trafficking victims. Though there were only two stories, these were all that was needed to shock and grieve their reader. I share one of the two here:

Now 32, Genesis was offered her first hit of crack cocaine by her mother when she was 13. By 18, she had a criminal record. She spent her teenage years in and out of strip clubs before becoming the property of a violent pimp. By 21, Genesis had lost a baby and become addicted to drugs.

For years under a violent trafficker, Genesis said she was never allowed to leave his house. The rooms were bugged, the bathroom had no doors. She said her pimp used to tie her and other women he trafficked to a weight bench, beat them and starve them …

“I didn’t know I was in hell,” she said. “I thought it was just life. Over those years I was held hostage, shot at, beaten with a pistol. And somewhere in my sick mind I thought this is how life is supposed to be.”[1]

If only Genesis’ story was unique. But it’s not. Sex trafficking is a much broader problem. Though it’s hard to track because so many victims of sex trafficking do not report their experiences, the Department of Justice estimates that as many as 300,000 children may become victims of sexual exploitation each year.[2] Even if the numbers are lower, one case of sex trafficking is one too many.

The sadness of human exploitation struck me in a new way as I was reading Revelation 18 in my devotions this past week. John is describing the fall of Babylon, a city symbolic of the world’s evil. John describes the decimation of this world’s systemic sin once and for all:

“Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!” The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. (Revelation 18:10-13)

John’s Babylon sold many things to enrich itself. But most tragically, it sold the “bodies and souls of men.”

John’s Babylon is not far from us. Every time a young lady is prostituted out to the darkest of men, “bodies and souls of men” are sold by pimps – just like in Babylon. Every time a woman performs simulated sex acts at a club for a gaggle of wide-eyed gawkers, “bodies and souls of men” are sold by the adult entertainment industry – just like in Babylon. Every time a person sits hidden behind a flickering computer screen, staring at erotic images of the most carnal of acts, “bodies and souls of men” are sold by the porn industry – just like in Babylon. Every time a scared woman is counseled and even cajoled to abort her baby even though everything inside of her is telling her not to, “bodies and souls of men” are sold by the abortion industry – just like in Babylon.

How sick.

As heart-rending as human trafficking may be, John promises that, mercifully, this sick industry will meet its end. The “bodies and souls of men” will not be sold forever. Babylon will fall. And when Babylon does fall, the merchants who made their money off the pain of people will grieve their destruction and cry, “Woe” (Revelation 18:19)! But those who have been oppressed and sold will celebrate their liberation and shout, “Rejoice” (Revelation 18:20)!

May that day of rejoicing come quickly.

If you need help out of being trafficked, click here.

_______________________

[1] The Associated Press, “Sex Trafficking Shelter Filled With Survivor Tales,” The New York Times (12.29.2014).

[2] William Adams, Colleen Owens, and Kevonne Small, “Effects of Federal Legislation on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,” Juvenile Justice Bulletin (July 2010).

January 26, 2015 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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