We outlawed slavery years ago but it has not been abolished. You may be a part of it. And in the midst of that, you may be enslaved in your own way.
Recently, our church had a special Sunday school series where we looked at issues in our community and the ministries that are addressing those issues. We called it “Heart of Mercy month” because our goal was to see God's heart for the issues and what He is doing about them so that our hearts would be brought in line with His and we'd be moved to get involved with what He's already doing.
One of the issues we looked at was human trafficking. We had an excellent presentation from Florida Abolitionist, an organization doing great work to help victims and fight human trafficking right here in Florida (which happens to be the state with the 3rd most reported human trafficking activity in the USA). As the Mercy Team and I were preparing for this series we went to a Florida Abolitionist event where we learned a lot about human trafficking. I was pretty familiar with the problem already, but there was one thing that stood out to me in a new way this time – the connection between human trafficking and pornography.
With the growth of the internet, traffickers are realizing that they can exploit their victims exponentially by expanding into pornography. Rather than taking money from just one John, they can film each exploitation of their victim and monetize the video as thousands more view it and contribute to this evil. It was shocking to me as I did more research about how often this happens, and how even in the official pornography industry there is more exploitation, coercion and dehumanization of the “stars” than you may realize.
There was a story I heard that really drove this point home to me. There was a man, right here in Florida, whose daughter was a victim of human trafficking. She trusted the wrong people and disappeared across state lines without a trace. Family and police searched for a time without results. One day, this man was on the internet visiting a pornographic website, when to his horror he recognized his daughter in the video he was watching.
Can you imagine being ready to objectify and dehumanize a person for your own pleasure and suddenly realizing it was someone you loved? All of us should try to imagine it, and remember it well next time we think about objectifying a person like that. Because you may be contributing to the enslavement of another person while deepening your own bondage.
A common response to the issue of human trafficking is, “that's terrible, but what can I actually do about it?” There are actually a lot of helpful answers to that question – you can pray, raise awareness, advocate for legislative action, you can go to a Florida Abolitionist training and learn how to recognize signs of human trafficking and call the hotline when you see them, the list goes on. But it may be even more important to start closer to home.
If you struggle with pornography, you can do something about human trafficking by treating your struggle like the serious addiction that it is. It's not just a personal, moral issue that doesn't affect anyone else (every sin impacts those around us really). It causes harm to you and perpetuates the exploitation of people made in God's image. Stop excusing it. Seek help, whether it's a counselor, a 12-step type group, or something else. I'm available to talk if you need to. I'd be honored to support you in fighting this, whether through counseling or helping you find other resources. You're not alone. You can fight this. You can and you must, because exploiting another human being damages your soul as surely as it damages theirs.