“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
As young widows, my friend, Terry and I decided to join a bowling league. We were truly terrible bowlers and our only advantage was our high handicap. As time went on, we met others in the league and would go for a light snack after bowling. One person in our group was a vivacious young lady named Josie*. Josie had light brown curly hair and an easy laugh. She carried herself in such a way which said, “No inhibitions”. It seemed like she did not have a care in the world but looks are indeed deceiving.
“Not as Man sees does God see because man see the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:8)
She told people she worked for the Democratic Party at an office in Illinois but what she only told a few of us was that she also worked as a stripper in East St. Louis. Then, as if she needed to justify her career choice, she explained how she had been horribly raped as a young girl. Her rapist was unknown to her and she had been so traumatized by the event that she had to be hospitalized as she could not speak or walk for three months. I do not claim to understand why she chose to become a stripper. I did not know her long enough to really know her. It seemed to me that it was her need to prove to the world that she was in control of her own sexual abuse. It has been said that young abuse and rape victims will often trade guilt for the shame of what was done to them in order to obtain a much skewed sense of control back into their lives. It’s a trade that comes with a terrible price of lowering self-esteem and the denial of self-love. I suspect it never occurred to Josie, that her actions as a stripper might provoke in some unstable men the need to seek out young victims to rape. It is the cycle of evil. As things go, I never saw Josie again after the league ended and I often wonder what became of her.
“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
I met Maggie* under very different circumstances. Maggie was a young prostitute who had been pimped all over the Midwest. Maggie was in a world of trouble. Her pimp had been arrested along with all of his ‘crib’ and Maggie would find out that he knew one of the girls had Aids and he had sex with them all thereby spreading the disease. Maggie probably had Aids. Only God would know how many of their customers would also be infected as well as their mates and offspring. Maggie was lost and afraid. How did she ever get into such a situation? Seems her cousin told her about a guy at a hotel by the airport that had great drugs and she was going to party with him. She invited Maggie along for the party. The drugs were the bait and once high, she submitted to sex. Was she really a willing partner? No one knows but drugs, sex, low self-esteem are a dangerous combination. Drugs eased the pain of being used for sex and sex got money for more drugs and pretty soon the cycle drove her down to the deepest part of the hole a soul can go down and still be breathing.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
If I could speak to either woman today, I would tell them of the love of Jesus that never wanted them to be hurt or victimized the way they were. Joyce Meyers gave a wonderful series of talks on “Beauty for Ashes”. She speaks of how out of the ashes our lives have become, there is still hope in the God who died to save us. There is still hope for the hopeless. There is help for the helpless and there is love for the loveless. There is a God bigger than our pain. A God who grants forgiveness even when our sins are as red as blood. A God who already provided for the future. A God who is crazy in love with us. A God who does not want either Maggie or Josie to suffer one more day. But He will not force himself on us. He waits knocking at the door to our hearts. I would tell them, “Maggie, Josie, For God’s sake, open the door already! What do you think you have to lose? Haven’t you already lost everything?”
“He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the broken hearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives and release the prisoners. To announce a year of favor from the Lord, a day of vindication by our God to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion beauty for ashes. To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantel instead of a listless spirit.” (Isaiah 61: 1-3)
Some will tell you that pornography and prostitution are victimless crimes. Some will tell you they are or should be legal. Some will even tell you that no one gets hurt. But I can say that I have never met a girl who growing up said, “I want to be a stripper” or “I want to be a prostitute”. Those who want it to be legal, are blind to the cycle of evil they themselves have succumbed and the victims around them they have helped create as they use someone’s mother, daughter or sister like so much easy prey. Those that sell themselves are more than likely already victims before, during and after. Victimless crimes, I think not. Those who claim so neither understand what real victimhood consists of and what constitutes sin and how that destroys all who are involved. Satan understands this very well. He knows that hurting people hurt others. He does what he can to keep the cycle of pain and sin going strong.
“You say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, or are not your ways unfair?” (Ezekiel 18:25)
*No real names used!!!
Joyce Meyers, “Beauty for Ashes”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrTvgFq89yQ