It’s no secret or surprise that this world is broken. And in my line of work specifically, I am daily reminded that the world is sexually broken. God created a perfect world; He filled it with beauty, living things, two naked human beings, and everything was good. Then Genesis 3 happened; sin entered the world and these two naked humans who had felt no shame suddenly realized they were naked and made clothes to cover themselves. Ever since that disease of sin entered the world we have been misusing, confusing, and exploiting sexuality.
In 2008 I entered my very first strip club. For a year I had been praying about how God wanted me to serve women in the adult entertainment industry, for I knew this was what he was calling me to do. And after a year of praying, he guided me into a strip club, orchestrated a purposeful conversation with the manager who immediately took a liking to me, and made a way for me and my two friends to bring in a home cooked meal to the women working in this club every single week. This is how Scarlet Hope, whose mission is to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with women in the adult entertainment industry of Louisville, KY, came about. Now, almost ten years later, we have been in over 20 clubs, shared the gospel with hundreds of women, and had the honor of watching dozens of women surrender their lives to God.
In the context of what I do, I see that there are two fundamental problems. The first problem is obvious and horrific, and that is the sexual perversion and exploitation that is rampant in our culture today.
The statistics that prove how sexually broken our world is are staggering. According to prostitutionresearch.com, 85% of women in the adult entertainment industry were sexually abused as children and 73% of women in prostitution have been raped more than five times. The trafficking of women is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 12 billion dollars a year. Where I live in Louisville, which is still technically the “Bible belt,” there are 25 strip clubs, over a dozen illegal massage parlors, and at least 5,000 women currently working in the sex industry.
The second problem I see may surprise you, and that’s because the second problem I see is with those of who are Christians. Christians do not have the best reputation among women in the sex industry. They generally feel judged, disregarded, and looked down upon by the church. Part of this is simply because they often feel shame and embarrassment and may have nothing specifically to do with individual Christians, but instead, with God’s blessing of common grace which gives all the women we meet the base understanding that they were not created for this.
But we must take some of the responsibility. Women in the adult entertainment industry generally have a misunderstanding about what we’re like and who we represent because women in the adult entertainment industry don’t know us. And they don’t know us because we expect them to come to us. This simply will not happen.
We all tend to have a misunderstanding of the gospel, and the women I meet on a daily basis are no different. We tend to think that we need to clean up our act before we can seek the forgiveness of Christ and be in a relationship with God. Many times when I pursue a woman and ask her to join us for our weekly Bible study, she’ll say something like “Let me get sober first and then I’ll come” or “I promise I’m going to quit here soon and then maybe I will join you.” I have the astounding privilege of telling her that this is not necessary. I get to tell her that Christ died for her in the midst of her sin (Romans 5:8).
This is the gospel that we believe, that God looked upon us in our utter helplessness and depravity, and sent us a Savior. He came to us, in all our mess, and pursued a relationship with us. If we are truly called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, then I believe we are profoundly mistaken to sit in our churches and wait for the lost to come to us. This is why I have been going into strip clubs every single Thursday for the past nine years. By the grace of God, I get to not only speak the gospel to women in the adult entertainment industry, but I get to show them the gospel by meeting them where they are and offering them a living hope and a love that never fails.
Your city likely has more sexual exploitation than you are aware. How are you engaging the people involved in this industry? I understand that it may not be your calling to enter into strip clubs; it may not even be wise for some of you. But I do believe that the Church has a greater role to play in reaching the men and women wrapped up in the sex industry, and I want to encourage you to begin asking the Lord how he would have you step into this issue within your city or area.
Rachelle presented this material at Engage 2017, Acts 29 US West’s annual conference. You can read posts from other speakers at Engage on our blog.