We need to be better than a rape culture.

I can’t even begin to express my feelings in something as short as this blog to explain how angry, sad, and broken I am for our culture today. We, America, have a long history of having the wrong opinion, wrong action, and poor judgment when it comes to rape and assault.  We have allowed for generations to live and die without having something substantial to show for having action and justice for victims of rape.  This needs to change. Now.

I have found myself at multiple times wanting to write something about this subject. But I usually find myself too upset or too angry to coherently write something capable of getting my thoughts across. But tonight, tonight I am here and ready to say something. We have created and endorsed a culture that glamorizes violent sex, rape, trafficking, prostitution, and assault. The very fact that we need to have this conversation shows how far we really are in this ugly pit.

Don’t believe me? Here are some examples…

  • movies like 50 Shades of Gray– manipulative and exploitive relationship
  • rape fantasy porn
  • phrases like “I’ll rape you in this game”
  • slut shaming (but boys will be boys…right?)
  • making jokes about rape
  • thinking its cool that celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence had her privacy betrayed so the world could “enjoy her” a bit
  • when we allow and enjoy songs like “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and endorse the thought that its okay to have blurry vision about consensual sex and possible rape
  • victim blaming

I could honestly make a longer list but there’s the gist. We have collectively taken such a light stance on rape and assault that we don’t even realize the tragedy taking place in our society. Just today pop-star Kesha was denied in court her request to terminate her contract with Sony because she claims a producer assaulted her. I don’t know Kesha. I don’t know her alleged attacker. But what I do know is that her right to remove herself from a place that she finds unsafe was denied. She will be forced to work alongside the producer over and over.  What I find most sad about her case is that, it being so public, will probably prevent so many victims of rape and assault from coming forward because the justice system has failed her, so why would it work for them?

Less than 2% of all rapes are reported with an even lower percentage for men reporting their assault. Women and girls are terrified of their attackers. Kids are petrified of their molesters. Boys and men feel humiliated because in society’s eyes they are less manly for having been assaulted, and even worse if their victimizer was a woman. Yes men can be raped by women too.

What it needs to come down to for us in our American culture is that we need to have a paradigm shift in our society. Enough is enough. Too many rapes happen. Too many victims stay silent. Too many victims lack justice being served. And too many rapists are set or kept free. We need to stop the jokes that make light of rape. We need to stop supporting porn (its all unhealthy) but especially rape fantasy porn. No more crying wolf because of regretful sex.  We need to learn that consent is vital in a sexual relationship. If consent is not given on either party…then don’t have sex. No means no. Silence means no. Yes means yes. We need to stop glamorizing artists/music whose lyrics not only glamorize but endorse rape, assault, abuse, etc. Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion?), Nicki Minaj, Robin Thicke and many others but just to name a few. We need to realize that as much as we have embraced something like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, we are also embracing the objectification of women. We need to stop it. Stop it all. We need to understand that even if someone has given sex before, it is also their right to refuse. We need to understand that regardless of what a woman or man, boy or girl, is wearing it does not mean it is the right for the taking. Enough with the victim blaming. Enough with the objectifying. Enough. ENOUGH. ENOUGH!

 

We need to be better than this. We are better than this because we were created for more than this.  Do your part to better the world around you. Is this really the world we want our children to grow up in? Is this really a world you want to live in? No. Speak up. Act. Do something. But don’t sit around and allow for this rape culture to continue. Not on your watch. Not on mine.

 

 

 

 

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Red light district love.

the-red-light-district

I am certain this will not be a popular thought. But my silence is not okay. For those of you reading this who might be offended, that’s fine. Just be offended in the right way. Red Light Districts are not a joke. They are not romantic. They are not glamorous. The other day I was in a conversation with various people (some of you who might read this). In this conversation, someone brought up very casually that he and his brother, among others returning from a deployment training, went to a European Red Light District. He said that some of them “did stuff”. Now, I am no fool and I can assume that by doing stuff that meant that had some sort or variation or sexual acts with the prostitutes who work in that Red Light District. What broke my heart is that not only did he say it so casually, but that he probably didn’t even realize (nor those he was with) that the very women (or men) that they might have “done stuff” with were probable victims of human trafficking. I don’t say any of this to belittle or trash talk those who were a part of this conversation yesterday.  But I literally went home and wept.

Red Light Districts in Europe, along with many places around the world, are the primary locations of the sex industry. In so many areas, especially in Europe, the prostitution is completely legalized. Anyone, from anywhere, can go and pay a certain price for whatever sexual acts they desire. Its compared to ordering a pizza. When did sex because so casual? When did sex become something downgraded to the value of pizza? When did the value or worth of someone else’s life drop to near nothing? The men and women who work these districts are pimped and prostituted out. They are physically broken down so they won’t run and flee. They are emotionally broken so they will not betray those who own them. There families and loved ones are threatened. They are kidnapped, coerced, beaten, broken, raped, and tortured. Yet, people still go to these districts and pay to have sex with them.

Legal doesn’t equate right or just.

Dear friends and readers, please understand the heaviness of my heart tonight as I write to tell you: please for their sake, do not embrace the Red Light Districts, do not engage in sex or behaviors with prostitutes, do not treat sex so casually as that of a pizza. They are worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that. End the demand of the commercial sex industry that is really the forced sex trafficking of individuals who have no other option or way out. Use wisdom in your travels. Value your own sex and sexuality more than offering it up to just anybody. Don’t buy into the lie of buying sex or giving sex because you can.  Find your value somewhere else, not in the using or abusing of someone else’s sexuality. Be offended at sex being treated like a recreation instead of something valuable. We were designed for more and far greater things.

Til the day I die…

It seems that our news is becoming more and more bleak, full of hopelessness, loss and despair only to be met with hatred, viciousness, and suffering. I have so much to say and I feel like I cannot fully express what exactly is going on in my mind and heart. But I can say this, that at my core, I am equally sad and angry as I am overjoyed and strengthened. You see, Christians globally are becoming more and more of a target of things that are reminiscent of the Early Church; things such as public executions, beheadings, crucifixions, shootings, and imprisonments. And I sit here in my dimly lit bedroom fighting tears wondering how I play a role in Christian history as events continue to unfold.

More Christians have been slaughtered brutally. In Syria, under the oppression of ISIS, 11 Christian missionaries were crucified and beheaded, just last month. Two of the women missionaries were publicly and violently gang raped only the to then be crucified. Other Christians have been beheaded in Africa. Others have been caged and drowned. And yet, still others, closer to home, have been shot. I can’t help but have a sense of camaraderie with my fellow Christians worldwide. But as I hear each story and painfully take in their suffering as a martyr and hero of faith, I am reminded of something that changed my life more than a decade and half ago.

April 20, 1999.

A normal day, until it happened…Two students, dressed in trench-coats and carrying various weapons, decided that they were going to change the course of history for their school and Littleton, CO.  These two gunman, teenagers, began bringing havoc on their school as they sought out specific targets. Some of their targets were classmates that confessed love for Jesus Christ and that they believed in God.  By the end of the day, they had intentionally shot, at close range, 12 of their classmates and 1 of their teachers, and then themselves.  As an early middle schooler, I was saddened and broken by this news. I remember it clearly. I remember watching TV reports of students and faculty fleeing the building. I remember seeing images of people jumping out of the second story windows. I remember the names of victims. But it wasn’t until a few years later, the events that unfolded that dark day at Columbine High School would forever change my life.

Having grown up in the church and being raised by Godly parents, I pretty much assumed I was “good” for a long time. I think a huge part of me loved God and loved church- especially events like camp. I loved youth group. I loved learning about Christianity and God. But one day I realized that it wasn’t enough. For two years, I was constantly reminded of the murders of the Christians at Columbine. For two years I couldn’t get a few of those names out of my head: Cassie Bernall, Rachel Scott, and Isaiah Shoals. Then, in 8th grade at a winter youth retreat, I was broken and realized that I had missed something in this story of Christianity. A youth group had done a drama to a song dedicated to the victims- specifically the Christians- of Columbine. A phrase in the song is what did me in.

“What if tomorrow, what if today, faced with that question, what would you say?” 

I realized that my religion wasn’t enough. My church attendance wasn’t enough. I realized in that moment, I did not have the faith those students had in their final moments. I remember thinking “God I don’t love you enough to die for you, but I want to.” It was in that moment, February 17, 2001, that I made a commitment, until the day I die, that I would try to love God with everything I had, even my last breath. From that day, I realized that it would be a journey to keep loving God no matter what was going on around me or happening to me. This journey is still happening. And that’s why news is painful at times, but necessary, to remind me of my commitment.

Last week, in Oregon, a similar shooting took place at Umpqua Community College, where a shooter targeted Christians for their faith. When I heard the news, my heart stopped for a moment, to give a silent prayer for the survivors of the shooting, and at the same time, remember the fallen of the Faith. Today, I learned of more executions by ISIS. There will be more. More hate. More evil. More persecution. More brokenness. But one thing, one thing I know for sure, is that in spite of the evil that exists in this world, the pain that follows, the brokenness that remains, I have Jesus Christ as my savior and my lord. This means I trust him, love him, and serve him with my life. He is my constant, steadfast and unwavering confidence in the midst of the darkness around me and in this world. Earlier in my blog I said “that at my core, I am equally sad and angry as I am overjoyed and strengthened”…I am sad and angry for the evil and hatred that exists. I am sad for the loss of life. I am angry at the taking of life. But I am overjoyed and strengthened because these Christians, faced with the question of belief and love in One God and Savior in Jesus Christ, they refused to recant, run away, make excuses, or betray. They stood firm. They were steadfast. They looked evil in the eye and said that God mattered more, even than their life. They knew that losing their life still meant gaining life and eternity with Jesus forever.

You may read this and think I am crazy. Just another religious nut. You make think this is bogus. But let me challenge with one thing: if I am wrong, then so be it. I lose nothing. But if I am right, I gain everything. I have a hope. I am not in despair. I am not lost. I am not weakened. I am redeemed and I am confident in Jesus. If I am faced with some event, whether natural, or evil, I want to know that I am doing my utmost, my best to live in a way that honors the God I say I believe in. If I am faced with death- I want to be among those that give up my life instead of give up my God. I want to be among the ones who finish strong and firm and confident in Him. Life is messy and painful. Life has evil. I don’t always understand everything. But I have hope in everything.

Til the day I die, I will live for Him.

 

 

 

Vengeance is not mine.

My heart is saddened again tonight as I hear more of the brokenness and loss that happens in our world. Even more, I am angry. I do not even think angry is a sufficient word for how I am feeling. I could think of a hundred words to describe my feelings tonight and I still believe it would be lacking. I am angry because of entitlement. I am angry because of hate. I am infuriated by the self-righteous, bigoted, racist, hateful things I am witnessing in the news. Let’s get one thing clear right here, right now. I am white. I am blonde. I am female. I am a Christian. I am straight. Your skin color, hair color, gender, orientation, religion or anything else will not change my opinion of you. Your behavior and attitude will change my opinion of you. The opinions I form about others are based on character, integrity, and heart of the individual. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I hate you.

That being said, tonight, I am angry. I saw on the news about a shooting that took place in NYC in retaliation of those who bear the color blue- specifically the NYPD. Regardless of your opinion on what has taken place regarding the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, the death of Eric Garner in NYC, or anything else in relationship to these, I still maintain that the solution starts with me and you. I wrote just a few weeks ago on this subject and that still will be the bulk of my opinion. Read it here. In the meantime, I beg of you, for the love of God, to stop.

Stop the quick judgments.
Stop the hate.
Stop the racism.
Stop the unforgiveness.
Stop the vengeful attitude.

These things will not get you anywhere. The shooting of the NYC police is outright ridiculous. That is not justice. That is furthered hate. The looting in Ferguson and violent protesting are furthered hate. Not justice. Not peace. More hate. Revenge is something that will destroy. It does not bring wholeness. It is poison that will inevitably bring destruction. When injustice happens, we cannot take let an attitude of revenge be our fuel. Vengeance is not mine to bring. It is not yours. When we retaliate, we irrationally respond, when we violently act on our emotions, when we let the cancer of unforgiveness continue, we will bring our own destruction. Even more, we will further the problem.

If you really care about this race war, stop being a racist. Stop referring to people by ill-conceived judgments, the color of their skin or the history of their people. Don’t refer to Germans as Nazis. Don’t refer to Russians as Commies. Don’t refer to Middle Easterners [of any nation] as terrorists or Al Qaeda. If you really care about bringing unity to Mankind- to all people- than treat every person…as a person. Everyone matters. Again…black lives matter. So do white lives. So does every race in the world, regardless of skin color, religion, nationality, or lifestyle. People always matter.

If you really care about peace, then try to bring peace…in your home, in your job, in your family, in your marriage. Bring peace on earth by how you act in your everyday life. In your speech, let it reflect a heart of someone who wants to bring peace, not destruction.

“Sick to my stomach about the killing of these NYPD officers. More people dead, more families hurting, more division. A foolish act of vengeance is not Justice. This doesn’t help the cause of equality or unity. It drives a wedge of hatred deeper. All these deaths show very clearly we have work to do.” (Lecrae)
…We have all been hurt by someone. We have been betrayed. Beaten. Some killed. Some tortured. Some raped. Some molested. People are bullied and people are bullies. Murderers. Bad things happen and often there is someone to blame. But friend, it is not your job to bring your own form of justice on those who have harmed you. I urge you, from the depth of my being, to realize that justice is more than a quick or emotional response. It has to be more. It just has to be more. We have so much to work on…there just has to be more than vengeance. If we foolishly take vengeance and “justice” in our own hands…we only perpetuate the same crap we are trying to stop.

I posted something [read here] about a POW who survived a WWII Japanese imprisonment only to return to Japan 4 years after he was rescued all to show that restoration, forgiveness, and redemption are possible. If he, a man who endured more pain and suffering than I can imagine, can forgive those who hurt him the greatness and strive to bring restoration, why cannot we at least try? Why not try to love…I mean really really love your enemy? Why not try to forgive instead of plan your revenge? Justice will be served to each of us, I believe in eternity. There will be justice for you, for me, for them. Can’t we at least try to do something greater than our own sense of justice? Vengeance was never for us to bring. Vengeance is not justice. It only equates to more evil, more pain, more hate, and far less actual justice and peace.

This…this is how we should live.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM the LORD.” Lev. 19:18


“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…'” (Romans 12:17-20a)

This all starts with me.

I have to say, I have thought and prayed long and hard about writing this and expressing the brokenness upon my heart tonight. Like anything I post, I want to post my thoughts, convictions and opinions but with grace, love and compassion. But tonight, I find it so very difficult to do just that…write my thoughts and opinions without the risk of being judged, condemned, or considered hateful. Please know, as you read this, I am broken as I write and all I ask is that you offer me grace and love and I try to offer.

Ferguson. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Those are just a few of the names being mentioned in the news and all forms of social media. You probably know them. If you don’t, you should probably get informed on what is happening. My heart is so deeply broken tonight by the news, social media, protests, killings, deaths, and looting. This is not right. All of it, its just not right. Ferguson matters. The people of Ferguson matters. Women and men in uniform matter. Black lives matter. White lives matter. Every ethnicity in the world matters. The deaths of both Mike Brown and Eric Garner matter. The protests and the looting matter. None of this started at Ferguson. None of this started during the Civil Right’s movement with Dr. King. None of this started during slavery.

It started a very long time ago when Man decided to do their own thing. Sin…the very thing that is innate in each of us. Sin is the thing that creates entitlement. It births prides and raises hate. Judgment. Anger. Hate. Rape. Murder. Racism. Prejudices. Biogtry. Adultery. Lying. Gossip. It all comes from the same place. In our core, we can be very bad people simple because we are people. But at the same time we are offered something so incredibly beautiful and challenging through Jesus Christ. Without his love transforming our hearts and minds, we can and will hurt others by our sin. We just might sin differently than others. We may wound or injure others differently than someone else. But we will inevitably hurt, wound, injure someone. That’s why this news about Ferguson and NYC and the deaths of two black men just breaks my heart. It breaks the heart of Jesus.

He lets us CHOOSE to love him which means we can choose to hate him and live opposing to his love.

I was not at Ferguson or NYC. I do not know any of the officers, Brown or Garner, but I know me. And in knowing me, I know I am flawed. I judge others. I criticize immensely. I hurt and deeply wound. I don’t always control my tongue and therefore gossip and maybe even slander. I make quick, often uneducated judgments of others. I don’t know what happened for real in either case therefore I will not make an opinion on the Grand Jury verdicts or state whether police were right and the victims were wrong. I will say that I understand how flawed and broken we all are and how if we have learned anything from the recent events in the news, we should be able to recognize this brokenness. Its not about being black or white. Its not about being from lower income or lacking education. Its not about coming from money. Its not about being a cop. Its not about guilt or innocence.

Simply put…we are all guilty…of something. And that is exactly why we need Jesus. It is why I desperately, earnestly know I need Jesus. Without him, I could very easily become victim to my own demise. Without him, I could very easily throw judgment at either party knowing for sure what really happened. Without him, I could sling hate toward one side over another. Without him, oh there are so many things I could do, be, say. But because I have him- Jesus Christ- as the redemption for my life, I choose recognize that what is happening regarding Ferguson and NYC are just part of a bigger story of the broken world we live in and a need for a savior. Because Jesus redeemed me from my sin, shame, and brokenness, I firmly believe Ferguson can be redeemed. Yes, things are lost, and some things won’t change. But I can try. You can try. We can together try to understand. To love. To stop hating. To stop looting. Stop judging. And if, only then, we can possibly see healing and restoration.

I challenge you, whatever side- if on a side- you find yourself tonight, I ask that you try, for a moment, to understand the perspective of the other. I ask that the looting and vandalism stops. I ask that both sides stop slandering, hating, judging, and start seeing how this all can be changed. It won’t be easy. It will take effort for all of us. Whites don’t understand the struggle  and history of the black community. Simply put…I really don’t understand but I want to. I want to try to understand, so be honest and talk to me. I want you to understand that not all whites are bad. I do not hate you, so please don’t hate me. I want the cops to understand that not every black person is a criminal- some are, but many are not. I want blacks to understand that most cops actually care about justice and aren’t in it for killing. If you haven’t been in a situation like these, please hold your judgments and outrage a little and instead pray to understand.

Pray that you might love others that you don’t understand. Pray that you might help those who can’t help you. Pray that you might love others who may never care about you. Pray that you might bridge this gap of brokenness. Pray for yourself, that you might be redeemed. All of this that is happening right now…its start with me. It starts with you. Until we can each work through out our own hate, prejudices, judgments, misunderstandings, and sin, we cannot and will not be able to really help others. Jesus, oh my sweet Jesus… he is the answer and he waiting for you to reach out to him. He knows this is a mess. He knows you and your struggle. And he wants to redeem.

Beheadings and persecution…

My heart is broken.

The evil in this world is sometimes far too great to bear. The pain, the suffering, the tribulation…just evil.

If you are keeping up with the news, than you will know how much evil is in this world. Specifically, in the Middle East, the evil seems to be rising making the news around the world. So far two American journalists have been beheaded, with videos having gone viral, with messages directed to President Obama. So far thousands of Christians all over Iraq, not counting other areas of the Middle East, are fleeing for their lives however, with imminent threat of death. I watched the news, hearing how various countries and organizations are wanting to help but unable without risk. Still others are pulling out their organizations and their citizens to save their lives. Still others, argue that no one should get involved at all. On social media and in the news, I have seen many people write or post about ISIS and how we [America] need to go in and kill them all. Genocide is never an easy fix or solution. Genocide never is met with peace without sacrifice. And genocide always leaves a wake of destruction for all parties.

This is why my heart breaks.

My heart breaks because my fellow Christians- brothers and sisters of the faith- are being murdered, beaten, tortured, raped and/or imprisoned [like Pastor Saeed in Iran]. My heart breaks because, for people in the Middle East to convert to Christianity, it means that they have counted the cost of faith and serving Jesus Christ. It means that they understand that, if they truly love Jesus, it may very well cost them their life. Alongside the Christians being persecuted, there are still Muslims in the Middle East that have nothing to do with the terrorism, genocide, or hatred, yet fall as bystanders in a cruel and evil fight. These Muslims are the ones that get the bad rep for their faith- though I don’t believe the same faith as them- they are people nonetheless and deserve the right to life. Even still, there are people from countries all over the world that are remaining in the lands of this evil because they are trying to help those caught in the destruction.

There is no peace in the Middle East. How can there be with this evil?

But I know a Peace that can bring healing, hope, restoration, and redemption. The problem is that we limit the reach of this Peace- the peace that comes through Jesus Christ. We, as American Christians, want to pray for the persecuted Church for safety, for protection, for a way out of the madness. We want to pray for them to overcome the physical, tangible hell they are in. We want to have punishment placed on the evil men and women bringing these atrocities. We want to have a perfect outcome in a completely imperfect and broken world.

For you reading this, especially if you claim to have faith and love in Jesus Christ, this is my plea to you: stop treating the evils in the Middle East and pretty much every other part of the world as something we can fix and mend. Only Jesus Christ can restore. I do not belittle the problems in this world by asking you not pray for them. I do ask that your prayers are bold prayers that rely on the power of Jesus Christ, not on our own ability. I ask that you stop praying for protection [only] for the persecuted Church, and instead, pray for their continued devotion and steadfast faith that will remain unshaken regardless of the trials they face. Like the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before the fiery furnace- God can free them from it BUT even if he does not, they can remain faithful to Him to the end. Our God is more than able to deliver us from evil, no matter what that evil looks like. But I also believe, that even if we do not understand why, he can help us through whatever it is that we face.

For you reading this, regardless of your beliefs, do not watch any videos these terrorists post. It only fuels their fear and fire. They want attention. Instead, be aware of what they are doing without continuing to watch the final gruesome moments of someone’s life. Give them- the murdered- respect, please.

And for you Church, I plead with you for this: pray for the members of ISIS, as well as other terror groups. Not for their success. Not for their continued evil. Not for their destruction either. Pray for God to show up in their lives. God can meet ANYONE where they are at, and no one is too far outside of God’s grace and mercy. We all want grace and mercy…until its for the terrorist or murdered or rapist or molestor. Church, pray for the salvation of those that you find to be most evil. Pray for the salvation of these men and women committing these crimes. What if we prayed for them and actually believed that their lives, like the Apostle Paul, could be changed? I’m not saying consequences for their actions shouldn’t come into play, but I have to believe that if Jesus died for the salvation of the world, that includes those that are evil. He desires for the wicked to be saved, not to perish [Ezekiel 33:11]. I am not one to say whether or not any of those members would actually change their lives, but I can at least pray for God to speak to them- to give them the chance at redemption.

That goes for anyone.

No matter who you are, whether you are a person of any faith, my faith, or no faith, I believe Jesus Christ loves you and he died so you could have restoration and redemption. He died so you could have the choice to love him or not. His resurrection offers us a hope and eternity with Him. When I see the evil throughout this world, I break because I see the brokenness that comes when this world lacks Jesus. I see the destruction that is led by selfishness, greed, and hate. I see that for many Christians in this world, to be a Christian, is more than a name or a religion but a literal death sentence for choosing Jesus. I see that we are fortunate in America, for now, to not have the same kind of evil. But I challenge you, don’t take it for granted. If you choose to follow Jesus, make it real, make it known, make it count. Be steadfast and unwavering. Don’t sit on the fence between partial care and obedience. If you are not someone who follows Jesus, or maybe doesn’t even want to because of some of things I wrote in this post… this world will continue to have evil present. It will continue to have destruction. You can choose to go through life with or without a true hope, which I believe, only comes through Jesus Christ.

This world is evil. I choose Jesus either way.

 

Victoria has a secret…its not just a fashion show.

No I am not just talking about lingerie or undergarments for women. But my thoughts were definitely triggered tonight seeing posts about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Honestly, I couldn’t care less.

What I do care about are the women who walk down the runway barely covered. I care about the men who gawk at them like they are nothing more than a commodity and sex icon. I care about the girls and women that look to the Victoria’s Secret models wondering how they could possibly look so good all the while wondering why their own bodies could never measure up.

Let me start with saying this: I am not against women wearing pretty undergarments. Yes, I own Vicky’s undies and bras. I’d say a majority of women in America do. I’m not necessarily against it or the company. I’m also not against fashion shows or models. However, what I do find myself more and more being upset by is the growing allowance of our culture, especially from Christians, in the objectification of women. It is even growing in the objectification of men. Women are not a commodity. Men are not a commodity. They are not a sex object. I fear that the more we allow things like the VS Fashion Show, we allow women to only be treated as such.

I fear women are devalued.
I fear women are dehumanized to being only an object glamorized for sex.
I fear too many young girls and young adult women have self-esteem issues.
I fear too many boys and men see girls and women as toys and not people.
I fear this is only getting worse.

My biggest fear is that far too many Christians are blind to the road we are going down.

Everything I am writing about right now is not limited to the VS Fashion Show, but to our culture in general. It is simply the fact that tonight while perusing on Facebook and Twitter, I saw such an overflow of men and women posting about the show… who looked sexiest, how they wish they could look like those women, and how many guys want to screw them. Pardon my terms there, but frankly, it makes me sick. It makes me sick that so many people- so many Christians who should be striving for honoring people and loving them with a love that redeems- can justify condoning things that treat people as less than human and something only for pleasure and sex. I am not saying this out of judgment toward anyone who watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but I am saying this with a heart rather heavy and broken for a world that rapidly is devaluing people more and more.

I know my thoughts on the VS Fashion Show might offend some of you, as you might have been one of the viewers. I’m not judging you nor am I saying you’re a horrible person. All I ask is that you take a moment to consider this: do things, like Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, honor and respect women, or could it actually be a source where we devalue women and glamorize them as a sex object? I beg you to take it one step further. What about some of the shows you watch or music you listen to. In a world that is far from innocence, we are surrounded by sexuality in all its many faces. And when someone’s sexuality- whether for men or women- is degraded to simply becoming an object for sex or a representation of that, they are no longer really seen as human. When car commercials can get better sales, not because of a beautiful car, but a nearly naked woman… I see something wrong with that kind of advertising, which sadly is all too common. When Joe Boxer, by Kmart, reduced their latest Christmas ad to six guys squat thrusting so they could shake their “Christmas balls” to the song “Jingle Bells”…I see not a funny ad about boxers but six men now becoming part of the trend of commercialized sexual objectification.

When commercial after commercial, company after company decides to market their company as one that uses women, uses men as nothing less than an OBJECT to sell sex, it breaks my heart for this world. For a long time people have known that “sex sells”. But the problem with it now is that it is no longer about sex selling the object, and instead the person in the ad now being the object to sell; the not so subtle messaging of sex all the while the original item is the subliminal message. Queue a world with everything from molestation to rape to trafficking to abuse. I am not saying everything leads to those extremes, but our culture, because we continue to allow growing and increasing messages and images of sexualization of girls, boys, men, and women, we subtly begin to shape our minds to allow the more extremes.

The secret, the one that Victoria is all about, is just the start. Sex and sexuality should be something that matters more than the value that is placed in society and culture. It shouldn’t be something taken advantage of and treated as useless, meaningless, disposable, or invaluable. Sex isn’t cheap. It is not a commodity. It matters. Every person matters and with that includes their sexuality. For far too long we have allowed, with little to no fight, the sexualization of culture, of men and women. Something needs to change.

Beyond Samaria.

Arriving to Toronto, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. This trip and convention, I was told, would be much different than the Atlantic City Exxxotica. This was “Everything to do with Sex”  and it would be large still but geared toward couples. I had no clue what that could mean.  All I knew for certain was: Jesus loves people and I was there, in Toronto, at that convention, to share the love of Jesus to people and patrons of the sex industry.

Over the course of three days, we encountered thousands of people. Some were with their boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. Others were with their partner. Still others were alone. There were all sorts of costumes and personality in the wardrobes present at the show. Calendar men (firefighters specifically), Hustler girls wore their booty branded undies and tops, several body-painted ladies wore….body paint, dancers and strippers of the industry walked around in the latest lingerie and pasty fashions, while still others wore the best burlesque they could. And of course, don’t forget “Thong Man”- the 70+ senior citizen who changed his thong outfit every hour- police, Rambo, army, energizer bunny…. I’m sure he has dozens of different thonged outfits. Who knows where he buys them.  Everything pornographic from couples to dungeon had a booth, though still most gearing their audience for couples. But don’t worry… there were booths for tattoos, body-casting art, back massage chairs, travel Toronto, boots, dresses, and even food trucks! Plenty of fun stuff right? I’m not gonna lie… I bought a crepe from one of the venders. No shame at all. It was delicious.

In the middle of all of that there was xxxChurch. Surrounded by adult toys, sex therapists, and lingerie, we had our neon colored hippy-esque booth. We gave the industry girls gift bags, bottles of water, and tanks. For three days we handed out 2,000 Bibles [book of John actually] and 3,000 stickers. The hot pink “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” stickers were the attention grabbers and hot commodity of the weekend… other than the porn.  But we got attention. We got everything from confused looks to giggles but often immediate questions on what we were exactly.

That is the point.

In an environment where so many people have been rejected by Christians, here we were xxxChurch in all our neon glory, with a 20 foot booth inviting people to ask the real question they ALL wanted answered… Does Jesus really love porn stars? Does Jesus really love… me? Even though I’ve done [fill in the blank]? So many people wanted to know the love we offered freely. The love that was not condemning, judging or critical. Yes we were and always are honest about what we believe about pornography, sexuality, and God however, the first step we try to stick with is just letting people know that Jesus loves them.  No one in that convention hall was less than enough for God. None were less worthy than myself or anyone else. Not one person has done enough “bad” for Him to reject them. That is the beauty of grace and forgiveness.

By offering love and grace first, it opened so may doors for conversations for people to want to know about God. Between theological discussions and debates to confessions of wanting more to honest conversation on desiring God, we were the Church in the middle of a sex and porn convention.  I can’t help but think of Jesus going to the land of Samaria. He had to go to through Samaria even though he actually had another route option. Instead he chose to go to a city Jews avoided to go to a well that no one acceptable would be at during that time of day to speak to a woman who was a known mistress to many. The Samaritans were bi-racial outcasts of society. And even in their being an outcast, Jesus met this woman who was even more of an outcast because of her sexual behaviors. Jesus chose to show love and kindness to this woman. He chose to meet her where she was not ask her to change everything first. After their discussion furthered he offered something more… forgiveness and new life.  The beauty of the story is that Jesus’ love changed this woman, not the woman changing for him first. His love- unconditional, redeeming, perfect love- was this reason she changed her life and started living different. It was the reason she ran back into town to tell everyone she knew about Jesus.  (read John 4)

xxxChurch goes to these conventions to offer that first step. We go to an area most Christians avoid either because they are critical or because they don’t know what to do in that kind of environment. We go to a group of people, though often glamorized, are still largely deemed by society as nothing less than a lay, a mental image to find gratification, and another person to call a name. We offer nothing but love and kindness to everyone in the building. Of course we want people to know Jesus personally, but its not our job to convert. Its our job to be the Church and love of Jesus, and his job to do the rest. At the end of the weekend, I had such joy in my heart. I know many of those people from this weekend’s convention want to know more. They want to find freedom from addiction. Some might seek restoration for their marriage. Some might want to know Jesus personally rather than just a cuss word. Some might want out of the industry. All I know is that there are a few thousand people that can’t deny that they were told and shown a love that is rare. One worth dying for. One worth going to Samaria for. One worth giving everything for.

[title credit to Sue]

Jesus Loves Porn Stars.

[I’d love for you to read this update, but please know, I am not using a filter nor am I dumbing down what I experienced for the sake of offensive material]

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up. All I knew was that I was going to Atlantic City for eXXXotica… the nation’s largest adult entertainment expo. Let me put it more simply: I knew I was going to a large porn convention. I am a Christian and I love Jesus. Because I love Jesus, I also love people. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from…I just love them. That was my motivation behind going to eXXXotica. Myself and a dozen others went with an organization called XXXchurch, a non-profit designed to reach out to those in the sex industry and their patrons. We simply went to tell people one message: Jesus loves them.

For three days, my surroundings were x-rated.  Upon entering the main doors, “hotties” greet you, dressed in 6″ heels, a g-string, and pasties barely covering the nipples. That was not an uncommon scene. In fact, most of the “hotties” and “entertainers” wore something similar-  minimal clothing,  high heels, and glitzed makeup. The exhibitors at the expo were set up just like any job fair, festival, marketplace… the difference being the  material in which they sold or advertised. Nearly every table would greet the guests of the expo with nearly naked women [and some men], x-rated materials of hardcore and softcore pornography, and of course… giveaways and freebies of their merchandise. Fetishes of all sorts were present-Dungeon and S&M sex fetishes were actually a large area of the venue. People could meet and get pictures with their favorite strippers, porn stars, and other lady entertainers. Tables everywhere were selling dildoes, various forms of vibrators, condoms, flavored condoms, lotions and sensual massage oils. Don’t forget the “lolli-cock” stand… chocolate and fruity flavored lollipops in the shape of varying sizes of penises. In case anyone wanted to test their balance skills paired with sexual pleasure they could also jump onto the mechanical penis… basically a mechanical bull but not a bull. The other  option was the pleasurable see-saw which we were lucky enough to have right next to our booth of XXXchurch.  With exhibitors to met every fantasy, lust, fetish, and more, every person coming to  eXXXotica would leave happier than when they came in…

Surely not an environment for the easily offended or the prude. Good thing I’m neither.

And yet… Jesus loves them. Yes even them.

How dare we, the collective Church, believe that the love of Jesus cannot extend to those of this industry. Jesus loves the strippers, the go-go girls, porn producers, porn stars, escorts, and don’t forget the consumers and patrons. The moment we start thinking Jesus can’t or won’t love someone is the moment we have missed His heart. It is the moment we have missed everything He lived and died for; His reason for everything is love. Not the grotesque display of love as shown at an expo like eXXXotica, but a love that goes deep, that is intimate, that is real, that is tangible and that changes your life forever. That love infiltrates the darkness. By XXXchurch being present at eXXXotica in Atlantic City, we brought forth the light of Jesus’ love into a world deemed unfit and unworthy by so many in the Church. With scrutiny by Christians, we proceeded to be present. We proceeded to tell people that Jesus does IN FACT love porn stars and everyone else associated with the industry. Jesus loves them all. I’ll take it an even further step… Jesus loves even the child pornographer. The rapist. The molester. The trafficker. The pimp. He loves every single person that I saw walk through those front doors passed the “hotties” with the pasties and the mechanical penis. He loves every single one of the ladies walking around in their 6″ heels. He loves every single porn producer selling their merchandise. His love goes deeper.

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In the midst of the hypersexualized environment that I had voluntarily placed myself, I and my friends of XXXchurch gave out books called “Jesus Loves Porn Stars”.  They were actually the Gospel of John with stories of people from the sex industry mixed in, people that discovered how true His love really was for them. We gave those brightly colored books to anyone who would take them. People love free stuff, so we gave it to them along with HOT Pink “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” stickers. In fact people loved the stickers so much they kept coming back for them. We would stick it on their arms, chest, even butts… and for the ladies.. the boobs on top of their clothes or their pasties. But the point was that we were walking into their lives, their turf and were not afraid and not backing down. We don’t go to convert everyone. We went to share His love and let His love do the rest. I know there were so many people that didn’t get the books, either from refusing to take it or just not stopping by our booth. But there were those… the ones that took it were maybe snarling, laughing, chuckling at the sight of seeing a colorful covered book with the line that “Jesus Loves Porn Stars”. Some took it with appreciation. But I know, I just know, that some of those people will open it. They will read it. They will discover.. discover truth and love unlike anything they have ever seen or heard before. Some of them will take it another step… they will contact XXXchurch, among the many others thousands a year, and want to know more, want to be free, want to have love- real love- His love.

I will do this again. Some day, hopefully soon. But beyond that, I want to not forget. I met some amazing people this weekend. I also met some creeps, some drunks, some pervs that I even still cannot forget. I met some amazing ladies of the industry. I can’t forget them either. Jesus loves every person I met this weekend. Not a single one was not worth my time or money to be there. Every conversation and every Bible or sticker we gave out matters to me because it matters to Him. I have list of people I met and I will be praying for them.

I’m going to…a porn convention? Yup, that is true.

For anyone who knows me even a little has probably heard share my heart regarding the sex industry. In case you haven’t heard my thoughts, it is really quite simple: God loves strippers, prostitutes, pimps, porn stars, “Johns”, clients, escorts, and all other adult entertainers or producers [including those in the sex industry to whatever degree by force (i.e. sex trafficking victims)]. Simply put, God loves everyone. The problem is that the Church, collectively, has done a pretty terrible job of showing those in the sex industry not only that God does indeed love them, but the Church has failed at showing that love. We have been lousy examples of a love that has no barriers. We have not loved unconditionally.

How many churches or Christians for that matter would have a heart attack if a stripper or promiscuous woman, scandalously dressed, came walking into their Sunday service? Of course the Christian response is “love the sinner” so in the event of said stripper/promiscuous woman walking into the church, someone awkwardly approaches the woman…maybe, to welcome them to church but then at some point make the appearance of the woman not only feel shamed, but embarrassed, outcasted, and uncomfortable. Other women in the church fear for the eyes of the husbands while gossiping lightly in worry [and of course not condemnation because we never do that], meanwhile the stripper/promiscuous woman, probably still nameless to everyone else, is questioning and even regretting her decision to try out God. Sadly this tale is not a false one nor is it uncommon. The problem is that so many women of the industry are labeled as harlots and whores that when they step foot into a Christian setting it becomes a new world probably unknown to them that they believe there is no reason God could love them.

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You see…Jesus really does love porn stars, strippers, prostitutes, porn producers, et cetera. He loves people. It is his whole purpose of living perfect and dying brutally. It is especially his whole purpose in coming back to life- resurrecting. You see in Jesus’ life he showed a deep love for all people from all backgrounds. I’m sure the disciples were uncomfortable, awkward, and unsure about many of the people and places Jesus took them. However, it was the love of Jesus that drove them to go to the uncomfortable, awkward, and unsure places for people. It was even the love of Jesus that had them risk their reputations for those that needed Jesus’ love. So then, Church, why have we missed this step? Why have we fallen short of loving those of the sex industry? We have groups and ministries for alcoholics, former addicts, divorce, eating disorders, single moms, single dads, marriage, young adults, senior citizens, children, youth, young families, yet we fail so miserably on showing love to the sexually broken. Honestly, I think we fail so much at this area the most because it is also the most intimate and intimidating. Sexuality is at the core of the human creation. For so long the fractured existence of Man has been corrupted through our sexuality through all sorts of perversions. We are trying to fix ourselves, our brokenness, our longing, our loss. As Christians we can understand that Jesus loves us yet it is do difficult to deal with the our fractured sexuality. It makes people uncomfortable.

We need to fix this Church. We need to reconcile the difference between loving the sinner and hating the sin and realizing that loving Jesus means loving everyone, as you and I are even sinners, and knowing that sin is part of our human nature and existence. Love – only His love and holiness- can bring forth change, redemption, restoration, and healing, but it requires getting out of our comfort zones, embracing the awkward, and not quitting until we know that we have tried to love everyone, without shame or fear of condemnation…just true Love.

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XXXChurch is exactly what that image says… the #1 Christian Porn Site. But it is not porn. In fact they branched out as part of the Church and decided to reach the very group of people that the large majority of the Church has neglected or forgotten about. They created their ministry to bring accountability and restoration the porn addict, however the ministry has evolved to creating internet accountability programs, online devotionals/blogs, books being published, strip clubs and prostitution outreaches, Bible distribution, and porn convention outreaches. That is where I come in personally. The link below is to my site through Fireproof Ministries and XXXChurch. In just over two months I am going, with a XXXChurch team, to Atlantic City, NJ [not that far away] to the national porn convention. Hello Atlantic City Exxxotica. We will be giving out Bibles mainly. But in these next two months I ask you to partner with me. Yes, I would LOVE your financial partnership to help me reach my funds goal. However, I would love more your prayers. God has called me to go to this convention to simply show his love to those that the Church has most often forgotten. Whether I get the opportunity to pray with someone or share my testimony or just give them a Bible, prayers are much appreciated. As a Church, this is our duty to love everyone unconditionally, no “buts”, no excuses…just love and let His Love work on their hearts. Help me do so. Consider supporting me, whether financially or prayerfully. Beyond supporting me on this trip, see what God can do through you for others. Whether its getting involved with XXXChurch, starting a ministry, or just being a good employee, boss, husband, wife, et cetera, but see what God can do through you that you have been called… its your chance to make a difference. It may make you uncomfortable, awkward, or intimidate you but if God has shown His love, pay that forward and live a life that reveals His deep love in you. It is restorative, healing, and beautiful.

https://www.myxxxchurch.com/campaigns/view/AC-exxxotica-2013.html