Six Biblical Responses to Sex Trafficking

The evil of sex trafficking is now on the radar of our national consciousness, as it should be.  Our culture is morally outraged by this twisted industry, and we should thank God for that moral outrage.  This has not always been the case, as we know from reflecting on the sad history of our country in this regard.  But although slavery is illegal in our day, it still exists.

A very recent story is that of an Uber driver who called the police after realizing that his passengers included 2 female pimps and a teenage girl who was being trafficked.  The media coverage helpfully includes some education for the public on what to look out for.  Many organizations are addressing this issue, raising awareness and engaging the complex factors that contribute to this atrocity.

Here I’d like to simply ask the question: What does the Christian worldview bring to the table in responding to sex trafficking?  How should we, as believers, be thinking about this issue in a distinctly biblical manner?  I offer six brief points.

1. Sex trafficking is an offense to the sanctity of human life.

All human beings are made in the image of God and are thus equally valuable.  From conception to natural death, women and men, girls and boys, rich and poor, every ethnicity, regardless of education level.  It is therefore a sin and an infinite offense against God to force another human being into slavery, and that is exactly what happens every day in the sex trafficking industry.  (See Exodus 21:16 and 1 Timothy 1:10)

2. Sex trafficking illustrates the sexual perversity of our fallen world.

The fact that sex trafficking is such a lucrative industry illustrates (in a very sad way) how immensely powerful sex is.  Something created for good has been twisted into something deeply wicked.  God’s good gift of sex has been perverted and putrefied by sinful human beings in ways that bring about unspeakable misery.

On this point, it is important for believers to recognize and publicize the connection between sex trafficking and pornography.  To be vocal in opposing sex trafficking while also a consumer of porn is a deep contradiction.  It’s a simple matter of supply and demand.  Porn users increase the demand side of the equation, which results in more women and girls forced into slavery.  Check out the Defender campaign which urges men to fight against sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography.

3. Sex trafficking is an offense to the sanctify of marriage.

God created sex to be a powerful bond and a source of great pleasure to be enjoyed within the covenant relationship of one man and one woman in marriage.  Before the Fall, Adam and Eve “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).  And we can read Song of Solomon as a picture of sexuality redeemed.  God is certainly not against sex.  In His infinite creativity, He gives this gift to married couples, for their pleasure and for His glory.

Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33) in which a husband sacrificially serves his wife, protects his wife, is faithful to his wife, honors his wife, loves his wife, as Christ does the church.

Sex trafficking grossly distorts this beautiful picture.  And we should remind ourselves that there are many other forms of sexual immorality that likewise distort God’s intention in marriage, including sex outside of marriage and homosexual activity.

4. Sex trafficking is a picture of bondage to sin.

The White Umbrella is a book written by a group of women who have worked in a recovery program for victims of sex trafficking.  One of the things they have to work hard at is convincing these girls that the man who had been controlling their life is not a boyfriend, but a pimp, a slave master.  They tell the story of a girl named Stephanie, who loved her “boyfriend” and felt a sense of belonging with him and his gang.  Eventually she was arrested for prostitution and given the option of jail or a recovery program called Wellspring Living.  She opted for Wellspring, but didn’t want to be there.  She wanted to be back with her “boyfriend” and her “family.”  In reality, this was a return to slavery.

Stories like this one vividly illustrate the struggle with sin, the bondage of sin, the deception of sin.  Whether it’s materialism, ungodly ambition, greed, pride, bitterness, or sexual sin, sin deceives each of us like it did Stephanie. Remember, Christian, that the world, the flesh, and the devil are not your friends.  They are slave masters who couldn’t care less about you.  As believers, we can say, You are not my master any longer.  I don’t owe you anything.  I have a new master who loves me, and I will follow Him.  (See Hosea 1-3 and Romans 6:15-23)      

5. Sex trafficking reveals our need for the gospel.

For almost everyone we might to talk to about this issue, it will be readily apparent to them that sex trafficking is a horrific evil.  What most would fail to recognize is that sex trafficking is a natural, sinful culmination of various sins that are present in our own lives as well.  We are guilty of lust, selfishness, and a desire to use others for our ungodly purposes.  And thus we too are guilty before the holy God of the universe.  Apart from Christ, we would be condemned.

But because Jesus Christ came into this world as a slave (Philippians 2:7) and suffered for us on the cross and rose on the third day, there is now forgiveness, hope, and liberation from the old slave master of sin and adoption by a loving Father.

This is the gospel we all need.  It is needed by both the perpetrators and victims of sex trafficking.

6. Sex trafficking will be completely eradicated when Jesus returns. 

Christians ought to labor for the cause of justice.  In whatever ways we can, we should support causes and organizations that are working to uncover and prosecute those who are driving the industry of sex slavery (for example, check out the International Justice Mission).

We persevere in these efforts, knowing that the Judge of the universe is coming back someday to set all things right.  In the end, we will see the culmination of all that sex and marriage now foreshadow, namely, the marriage of Christ and the church.  We will celebrate at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7).  And He will wipe away our tears.  There will be no mourning or crying or pain anymore (Revelation 20:4).      

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Ben Reaoch (@BenReaoch) is the pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in Pittsburgh and the author of Women, Slaves, and the Gender Debate (P&R, 2012).

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