Pornography and Prostitution

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Pornography and Prostitution: a backstreet brothel, a locked bedroom door, and the link between the two.

It is easy to shake our heads at a problem, briefly pray for someone, or impersonally support an organization when we can stay emotionally disconnected. We give money to organizations that feed the poor in Africa and South Asia, while sleeping comfortably at night because we haven’t actually seen the suffering face-to-face. We give a little here and pray a little there—and stay far removed from the real problem.

However, as followers of Jesus, this is not how we are called to live our lives. Did Jesus stay in the temple or at His home in Nazareth and only heal from a distance? No. He went and touched the lepers, the outcasts, and the blind. He willingly went into the darkness, the evil, the suffering. 

For many of us, the evil of human trafficking seems far removed. While I know people who have been trafficked, I would not call any of them close friends. We may give to organizations that fight human trafficking, such as A21 or IJM, but it’s easy to forget about it when the problem is not a daily part of our lives. However, the evil of human trafficking—specifically sex trafficking—is much closer to our personal lives than we would ever imagine.

But first, what is sex trafficking? It’s any activity that involve holding, transporting, or recruiting people “for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion…”[1]. This  includes any forced sexual activities, from street prostitution, to Nepali girls in brothels, to a lover-boyfriend-turned-pimp forcing a girl to perform sexual acts for him. Some massage parlors, for instance, appear on the front to be legitimate businesses while clandestinely offering sexual services. 

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) conducted a study in which they stated, “The crime of human trafficking affects virtually every country in the world.”[2]  No matter where people live, whether it be a hotel in Europe or an apartment in Asia, sex trafficking impacts the lives of those around them. I see it walking my own streets here in Queens. Three buildings down from our church is a massage parlor that remains locked from the inside even when the sign says “Open.” On a few occasions, we have seen several girls go inside, dressed in miniskirts and coats. But whatever happens inside is hidden by the heavy orange curtains draped all along the front glass.

Even though we know it is in our neighborhoods, the curtains can still hide the evil, and it is easy to walk past, pray a quick prayer against the evil, and forget it for the rest of the day. But we hide another evil behind the curtains of our own homes and the doors of our own bedrooms. 

The evil of pornography.

We shake our heads in sadness when we hear that one million children are forced into sex trafficking or when we see pictures of the millions of prostitutes worldwide. Yet, how often do we unknowingly support sex trafficking from our very homes? Ana Stutler, a graduate of Calvin College with an International Relations degree argues that “society view sex trafficking as something we ought to combat, yet it sees pornography as simply another genre of entertainment.” [3]

Simply put, pornography supports the commercial sex industry by creating a demand for more sex.

Dr. David Platt, a pastor and New York Times bestselling author, makes the claim in his book, CounterCulture, that “[m]en and women who indulge in pornography are creating the demand for more prostitutes, and in turn they are fueling the sex-trafficking industry.”[4]

The horrors of the porn industry are often not known to many people. Pornography is more than adult entertainment; in fact, pimps often use pornographic images to tell minors and young women how they want them to “perform” for the men who come.[5] Porn is literally “advertising for trafficking.” Because viewing pornography creates a hunger to “act out what is seen,” traffickers and pimps are advertising their “products,” women and girls, to those who view pornography.[6] At times, victims are trafficked simply “for the sole purpose of porn production.”[7] Often, pimps use women for porn production, but what is more appalling is the fact that 20% of these photos are of a child or minor. [8] Not only does pornography destroy the lives of those who view it, it also destroys those who are caught in the middle of it with no way of escape.

The connection between pornography, sex trafficking, and prostitution is acute. Dr. Melissa Farley, the Executive Director of Prostitution Research and Education, makes the case that the main difference between pornography and prostitution is the fact that pornography takes the abuse and assaults of prostitution and makes a profit from it.[9] She goes on to say, “Profits turn sexual assault of children, rape, domestic violence, humiliation and sexual harassment, and pictures taken of those things – into a business enterprise.”[10] While many people would never dream of raping a six-year-old girl, every time they click on porn they are, in essence, promoting that very thing. 

In an article posted by International Justice Mission, the author observed that before the Digital Age, buyers of sex had to go to brothels or bars. Today however, abusers who are anywhere in the world can “exploit” minors without ever having to leave their house.[11] An Assistant Professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary, Andrew D. Naselli pleads with his readers by saying, “Plant this deeply and firmly in your conscience: since pornography fuels sex slavery, indulging in pornography to any degree is participating in sex slavery.”[12]

This reveals the apparent hypocrisy of many people, both Christians and non-Christians, alike. While many people claim to be lovers of truth and justice, some of nevertheless supporting the sex trafficking industry worldwide. Dr. David Platt sums it up well when he writes, “No matter how many red Xs we write on our hands to end slavery, as long as these hands are clicking on pornographic websites and scrolling through sexual pictures and videos, we are frauds to the core” (italics added).[13]

We believe in a God of justice. We believe in a God of light. A God that can and will dispel every form of darkness around us through Jesus Christ.  However, we are the worst of hypocrites when we obey God in public and disobey Him in private. Church, this does not have to remain this way. We can, with the strength of God, rise up and put a stop to this. This means examining our own personal lives for hypocrisy first, whether it is pornography or other hidden sins. Then we bring that sin to the cleansing light of Jesus. He stated that “he who does the truth comes to light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (NKJV, John 3:21).

Because when we know the truth, the truth can set us free. 


Works Cited: 

  1. Clawson, Heather J., et al. “Human Trafficking Into and Within the United States: A Review of the Literature.” ASPE, 21 Feb. 2017. Web 20 August 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Stutler, Ana. “The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking.” Covenant Eyes. September 7, 2011. Agape International Missions. Web 20 August 2019.
  4. Platt, David. Counter-Culture. Tyndale House Publishers: Carol Stream, IL: 2015. Page 123. 
  5. Naselli, Andrew David. “When You Indulge in Pornography, You Participate in Sex Slavery.” CBMW.ORG December 2, 2015. Web 18 July 19.
  6. Stutler, Ana. “The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking.” Covenant Eyes. September 7, 2011. Agape International Missions. Web 20 August 2019.
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Farley, Melissa. “Pornography, Prostitution, and Trafficking: Making the Connection.” Prostitution Research and Education. Agape International Missions. Web 20 August 2019.
  10. Ibid.
  11. “Sex Trafficking.” IJM. International Justice Mission. Web 20 August 2019.
  12. Naselli, Andrew David. “When You Indulge in Pornography, You Participate in Sex Slavery.” CBMW.ORG December 2, 2015. Web 18 July 19.
  13. Platt, David. Counter-Culture. Tyndale House Publishers: Carol Stream, IL: 2015. Page 124. 
  14. The Holy Bible. Thomas Nelson, 2016.  




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About the Author:

Kristen Yoder is currently figuring out how to interest high schoolers in English class at Faith Mennonite High School. However, she enjoys the challenge and loves hearing the questions and thoughts that her students bring to class. Her aim in life is to use her passion for language, literature, and cultures to better share the gospel, whether in “the rolling fields” of Lancaster County or in the ethnically diverse blocks of New York City.

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1 thought on “Pornography and Prostitution”

  1. Thanks for not only raising awareness about this, but compelling us to search our own heart and do something about it! This is a much needed message.


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