Pony-tailed, Samson* walked into a Klang Valley street church with two very prominent bumps on his chest. Although in his 50s, Samson'’s skin was almost wrinkle-free, and admirably smooth, smoother than most women his age. He'’s obviously on hormones for a long time. He asked us for a job; he was finally fed up ofhis transgender prostitutionfor cash. "The Indian men are very rough", he remarked. As a young man, Samson left Malaysia for Singapore, at his friend's advice, who told him more work opportunities await him there; he ended up beginning a life of prostitution. He felt he was skill-less, but, it turns out that his chronic challenge of learning was more psychological, than actual. He lived among us for a while, we taught him to cook, giving him some pocket money for his services. He is a genuinely cordial and compassionate soul, he was very considerate of those around him; we all like him. I wondered if he would have left the sex trade earlier if his ex-gay friend invited him to do so earlier. But, so many factors were involved. (* Samson is a pseudonym of real person to protect privacy.)
Surrounding the church, there are several lanes with people dressed like prostitutes, just hanging around. But, sometimes they'’re not identifiable; it’'s not like they'll come up to you and admit that they’'re prostituting.And if they are waiting for clients, they'’re not in the best state of mind to leave the trade, as most of them want what they want then.More often than not, dysfunctions in their family of origin, preadolescent abuses, and poverty had made it easy for them to enter and stay in such an environment. Those with drug addictions find it even more difficult to quit the industry. This is in spite of the fact that they are often dangerously exposed to various abuses, as well as sex and other health diseases.
And then, I think of those that clearly don't lack in finance or skills, but stillenter prostitution, such as Rev. David Kyle Foster, an ex-male homosexual prostitute for 7 years in Hollywood. Even though he earned lots of money as a rising movie star, he was using an illegitimate way to fill a legitimate need for male affirmation, having confused sexual intimacy with healthy intimacy.
We'’re wired for relational intimacy, because we're made in the image of God, the Trinity who's perpetually in deep fellowship of love with one another. Sex is just one channel of intimacy on earth, reserved for the male and female married couples, which is reflective of heavenly union between Christ and the church, His Bride (Eph 5:25-33). But, physical sex and marriage is no longer relevant in heaven (Matt 22:23-32). For eternity, it is union with God and other who are in God, that is the most important (Jn 17:19-24).
According to the FBI, human trafficking is believed to be the world'’s third largest criminal activity, just behind the drug and firearms trafficking. Forced labor, domestic servitude, commercial sex trafficking, sales of human organs, are all included in human trafficking, which exploits and enslaves the most disenfranchised of society. And it may or may not involve organized crime groups. While there are many prostitutes with pimps, there are now increasing numbers of those that independently “sell themselves online. This is definitely the case in Taiwan, where just a few decades ago, child prostitutes trafficked by pimps was a huge problem. But, today, although child prostitution is now something of a bygone era, underage sex in exchange for money or anything else, is now rampant on social media platforms.
Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia. And thus, some people imagine that this is not a big issue. But, as early as 2003, the government set up a committee to monitor foreign students who might enter prostitution; but, this didn't curb the rapidly growing problem. Today, the huge underground industry involves foreign and local students. In 2012 alone, Bukit Aman police arrested more than 12,000 prostitutes of various ages. In 2014, the unofficial estimates, says that there are about 150,000 prostitutes in Malaysia, which includes those from different countries. Havocscope, a global black market watchdog, reports that the Malaysia black market is worth about US$ 2.99billion (about RM13billion), with the prostitution industry dominating the pie, at US$963.8million (about RM4.3billion).
Some say there's need to differentiate between voluntary and involuntary prostitution. And some talk about legalizing prostitution, in the supposition that it dignifies prostitutes. But, legalized sex industry makes it seem legitimate, without truly dignifying the prostitutes. Such sale of the human body is intrinsically wrong; it is not the same as a construction worker who makes money through physical labor. Sweden was the first country to legally recognize prostitution as violence. This is because of the way God made us. God created sex, and sex is good, when used in the right way. Under normal circumstances, spouses should regularly have sexual relations, to strengthen marital bonds (1 Co 7:3-5). Neurochemicals rewires the brain during sex/sexual fantasy (Matt 5:27-28), forming strong bonds or “"addiction"” to the object of sex activity/fantasy. God intended sex to gel a husband and a wife together, to the exclusion of any other, as this would create natural biological tendency to commit to each another (a healthy soul tie). Any sexual activities outside of marriage, destroys relationship(s) in varying degrees and ways. Thus, misusing sex, to derive sexual pleasure or any other comfort, is wrong.
For most people, breaking up from a sexual relationship is painful and difficult to forget. But, when someone is involved in more than one sexual relationship (including sexual fantasies, such as porn viewing), one becomes fragmented, because neurochemicals that are secreted, bond a person with many. No one normally steps into a marriage, planning the day they get out. But, a sexually broken person could at same time, long for sexual relationships, but, also be jaded emotionally, as they've experienced previous breakdown of sexual relationships. In relationships, their minds consciously or unconsciously, prepare them for the eventual split. For those who have many one-night stands, this problem is especially acute. Until and unless there's divine intervention, he or she finds it difficult to properly gel in body, soul, and spirit, with the one person they finally want to bond with.
An online Christian video series, Pure Passion, has many different testimonies of those who were trapped by their sexual brokenness, but, found freedom to varying degrees, when they begin to apply biblical principles. Where there is corruption in local government, traffickers have a heyday. But, there are even testimonies of some Cambodian traffickers that voluntarily turn to Christ, forsaking their lucrative business, when churches and organizations reach out to them with prayers, love, and truth.
How is the gospel relevant to those in the human trafficking industry? Our God is a jealous God. He desires that we reserve our whole-hearted and committed love for Him.He does not want us to turn to any idols. I think of those that "prostitute" themselves, giving themselves away to person(s), things, and circumstances that enslave them. They sell themselves out for person(s), sex, money, fame, power etc. They turn away from the legitimate provisions that God provides, trading themselves excessive and/or unnecessary gain, which their misguided minds tell them is worth it; they didn't refer to their Creator’s Manual (the Bible). Didn't God describe Israel asprostitute for these reasons? (Hos 3:5)
But, in fact, God definitely wants us to have love, possessions, power etc., but He knows that anything that displaces Him from His rightful place in our lives, will cause all our priorities to be messed up, and we won't enjoy the abundant life that He has prepared for us (Matt 6:33; Jn 10:10; Jas 1:17). Choices have consequences (Ro 1:24-27).
Someone described humans as hardwired to be “addicts”, we have a plethora of neurochemicals that conditions us to certain enjoyable and welcomed repeats (or unhappily and reflexively bound to unwelcomed patterns), but, God wants us to "God-addicts", to persistently love God and others in whatever circumstances, and everything else will fall into the right place. The Holy Spirit is not hovering over us, ready to punish with every infringement. But, He is there to help us in our weakness, and calls us to sin no more (Ro 8; Jn 8:10-11). He liberates by His Grace. (1 Co 6:9-11, Gal 5:19-21; Matt 21:31-32)
Are we ready to love people into wholeness?
- By NJ YAP