Recently Dr. Mary Doak, associate professor of theology at the University of San Diego, gave a lecture titled Consuming Women: Sex Trafficking and the Body of Christ in a Market Dominated World.
Doak said that global trade, while being able to improve economies worldwide and offer new opportunities to those in resource-deficient areas, also facilitates the globalization of the sex industry. In this industry, she said human beings are transformed into instruments of revenue, where they are valued solely for their physical worth to others.
“The markets demand for profit has clearly triumphed over human dignity and communion,” Doak said. “These sex slaves are not subjects in the market exchanges but rather are treated as objects in the market, exchanged by and for the consumption of others.” Victims of human trafficking experience a reality of “non-personhood,” where they are objectified to the point of losing all relation to humanity in the eyes of their sellers.
The Christian tradition has also contributed to the dehumanization of those in the sex industry by manipulating the truth about lifestyles of sex workers and representing them as women with insatiable lusts and greed for money or luxury. The result is a Christian culture in which it is expected that women choose to save their virtue over their lives — a choice women forced into the sex industry are faced with every day. This attitude prevents Christians from viewing sex workers as the victims they truly are.
Christians are called upon to look past these unfounded biases and open their hearts to those who need love and assistance the most. “A Church that values social respectability, that seeks a facade of social harmony without offering serious opposition to injustice is a Church that offers more of the same of what we find in society,” Doak said. “When the Church’s mission is thus obscured … fewer feel their need for the mutual support that empowers us as a Church to live … more fully.”
In addition to political, economic and activist campaigns against sex trafficking, she said, more effort should be put into ministry campaigns to provide the women damaged in the sex industry spiritual support and acceptance.
Learn more at Tabitha Ricketts’ The Observer article: Professor analyzes Christianity and sex slavery.