How to Resource and Help Restore Men and Women involved in Prostitution and Pornography
We’ve all heard it said that with the coming of the Super Bowl, the amount of girls caught in sex trafficking goes off the charts.
..demand for commercial sex goes up surrounding large sporting events.
“There is a large population of men seeking commercial sex. Our (sting operation) ad count was up 30% during the MLB All Star weekend in Minneapolis, and went up 12% during the Ryder Cup in Chaska. There is a greater demand around opening fishing and deer hunting season, and those are things that happen in Minnesota every year,” said Sgt. Snyder.
While commercial sex may not by definition be sex trafficking, when we are talking about restoring perpetrators, the distinction seems fairly negligible.
“I’m a huge believer in getting the message to men in the church that it’s not okay to buy these women. To me this problem is very simple. If there’s nobody out there willing to pay these women, then there’s no women to sell. It’s simple supply and demand,” said Sgt. Sean Johnson, Police Inspector at St. Paul Police Department.
Uncovering Hidden Shame
On July 19th Transform Minnesota hosted 140 people at Wooddale Church for a seminar called “Uncovering Hidden Shame,” offering resources and expertise on helping restore men and women involved in sexual addiction, prostitution and pornography.
If there’s nobody out there willing to pay these women, then there’s no women to sell.
Sgt. Grant Snyder shared his legal expertise on commercial sexual exploitation in the Twin Cities. Dr. Mark Laaser, the director of Faithful and True, shared how the church can help with restoration and resources for men and women struggling with sex addictions.
“This seminar helped our church to discuss how to help those who are buyers, and not just leave them where they are at. We want to help not only those who are being trafficked to be restored, but how do we help those who are a part of the buying process be restored?” said Trent of Trinity Church.
Not Monsters, Just Like Us
Sgt. Snyder encouraged pastors and church leadership not to get caught up in the emotional narrative of despising these perpetrators.
“Fight the urge to think of them as scum bags, they are just like us. The difference between the perpetrators and us is so small. We are two sides of the same coin. My heart and my flesh are a prisoner to this world.”
“This is a sin problem, and we know the right solution for sin is to turn your eyes to the Gospel. I want to encourage you to help bear their burden and so fulfill the law of Christ,” said Sgt. Snyder.
A story was shared about a pastor who walked down the road of sexual sin, and got arrested by Sgt. Snyder.
Each day it got easier and easier to say yes, then finally to say ‘Where should we meet?
“Every day this pastor was rehearsing by looking at porn, by checking out woman, by engaging in sexual conversations in chat rooms. Each day it got easier and easier to say yes, then finally to say ‘Where should we meet?” said Sgt. Snyder.
Here is a list of the pastor’s reasons for his engagement in prostitution:
- I was bored.
- Influence of the world and how casual sex is in society.
- Stress of circumstances. My wife and I drifted apart. There were health and money issues.
- Fear of aging, I was getting older.
- Availability of technology. It is so easy at any moment of weakness to walk through the door that’s going to lead you to prostitution (and getting caught).
- It’s a slippery slope.
One man who attended the event whole-heartedly agreed with the pastor’s slippery slope assessment, having just seen a relative get arrested in a prostitution sting.
“It’s just a question of how far down the same slope we as men have gone. We all have sexual desires that can get out of hand,” the participant said.
Another seminar participant says she is leaving with a stronger sense of compassion for all parties involved in the sale of sex.
“Something tugged at my heart in a different way, having compassion for men who are involved in this,” said Valerie, who is actively involved in local anti-trafficking efforts.
There is a strong spiritual dimension in treating sexual addiction. Spirituality is the underpinning of redeeming all of this brokenness.
During an initial period of sexual abstinence, Dr. Mark Laaser encourages couples to develop a deeper spiritual life together.
“Healthy sexuality is the expression of the spiritual connection between a husband and wife,” he said.
…invite God to teach us what these thoughts are trying to heal.
“I’ve never known of a fantasy that men have that is not at some level a message from their soul about something that they’re trying to heal. It doesn’t work to tell thoughts to go away. Invite God to teach us what these thoughts are trying to heal,” said Dr. Laaser.
The Church as the First Resource
Dr. Mark Laaser believes the Church must become a better resource for congregants struggling with sexual sins.
- Evangelical Christians need to develop a theology of healthy sexuality in church.
“When the Church has talked about sexuality, it’s primarily been teaching the things you don’t do.
…we need to know what God’s vision is for healthy sexuality if we want to know how to inspire young people
Teach this vision of holy sexuality at all levels of the church, from the youth group to the pulpit. And parents shouldn’t shy away from the topic of sex either.
“The sex talk isn’t a one-time deal. Parents need to be doing a lot more talking. I believe sex education by the parents is an on-going conversation at various stages of development,” said Dr. Laaser.
- Churches need to become a safe haven for sex addicts to come and meet. Provide safe accountability communities* for men and women to come and heal.
“Shame is a lie about who we really are in Christ. We need to be in a community of truth-tellers who are reminding us of truth. We are continually striving to put men into support groups; it’s in those communities where we hear the truth about God’s love for us, and I don’t think we can hear that often enough,” said Dr. Laaser.
- Church leaders need to be well-educated about this issue. Pastors are often considered the least helpful people to turn to when spouses deal with addiction or infidelity.
“When people come to you struggling with pornography, masturbation, prostitution or affairs, you need to know what to say, and how to refer them to appropriate help,” said Dr. Laaser.
In practical terms, Dr. Laaser says this means “Don’t ever say, ‘You did what?’ Pastors are not being effective and are giving overly simplistic answers; offering suggestions like, ‘You need to pray more, or you need to increase your spiritual disciplines.’ That’s not helpful.”
The best thing that a pastor can do is to help facilitate getting that man into some kind of community that’s willing to address these specific sexual issues directly.
A Call for the Church
This seminar was a wake-up call for church leadership to rethink their response to the struggles, temptations and sexual sin happening in their congregations.
“The awareness and education from this seminar was wonderful, and it will create discussion for our church as we engage in anti-trafficking efforts with the Super Bowl coming up,” said Trent, a participant from Trinity Church.
We pray for restoration and prevention efforts to increase within the Church as our city prepares to host future large sporting events, and for these efforts to continue to uncover and heal hidden shame.
Support Group Recommendations:
Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability Software
Pure Community national directory of resources
American Association of Christian Counselors