Friday, March 20, 2009

Christian Reformers and the Sex Industry

Not long ago I read Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott. A history of Chicago’s red-light Levee district at the turn of the 20th century, with a focus on the top-notch Everleigh Club brothel, this well-researched book was an interesting read. Its sympathies, however, lied with the madams over the ministers. The women who ran the Everleigh Club were portrayed as caring and classy, while the members of the Midnight Mission were the comic figures. Their hearts – with a desire to end “white slavery” – were in the right place, but their open-air preaching outside brothels and campaigns to shut down the Levee seemed a waste of time. According to the book, few hearts were changed, even though the Everleigh Club and others were shut down.

While reading Sin in the Second City, I wondered why the Christians’ prayers seemed to go unanswered, why God didn’t honor their efforts to save souls. It seemed He had truly spurred them to address the social ills of the day, and their methods – though abrasive – were typical of the times.

Contrast the Midnight Mission with a similar ministry today, XXX Church, whose posters declare “Jesus loves porn stars.” Both have similar purposes – getting women (and men) out of the sex industry and into the church – but the methods are worlds apart. While the Midnight Mission had a negative, external focus of stopping the sin, XXX Church approaches the problem from the positive angle of changing the internal by loving the sinner. The latter approach seems to be the way to go.

XXX Church, keep loving porn stars as Jesus does, and may your ministry produce lasting change in our culture.

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