Thrilled to feature activists and allies, coauthors and spouses Beth Bruno and Chris Bruno today. What if men and women partnering together could take down the sex industry in their city through a comprehensive and prayerful approach? What will the gospel make possible in your city? For as we reclaim Eve, we are also reclaiming Adam. (Download their free ebook End: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking at the end of this post.)
“In God’s Kingdom, every woman—no matter her circumstance—can be reclaimed.”
Beautiful words from Reclaiming Eve perhaps because they ring so true for us all, perhaps because they sear my soul as I consider their weight. For as true as they are for women, they are true for men. And as true as they are words of hope, words of calling, they are true words of restoration.
Can we all be reclaimed for God’s glory—sinner and saint, victim and perpetrator, exploited and trafficker? Do I believe the weight of glory, promised for me as an ezer, extends to the adam who has harmed fellow ezers? Does the promise of restoration even encompass men who buy and sell sex?
I’ll never forget the Sunday when my husband leaned over and whispered, “Do you know how many men in this room buy sex?” Not the typical pre-worship chatter a couple engages in, but as a Christian counselor and anti-sex trafficking leader, it has become normal for our marriage. He counsels those on the spectrum of Johns and I empower others to join us women to end sex trafficking. Together, we recently co-authored END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. While our unified aim is to put an end to the sexual exploitation of women and children, our ultimate goal is to reclaim both Eve and Adam for their original intended glory.
Men who buy sex live their own version of hell.
In the entanglement of sexuality, far too many men have been deceived into believing that sex is their most basic need. Indeed, the most core aspect of the human heart, the most primitive place in every human soul, is to worship. Everyone worships something or someone. Everyone. Inundated and overwhelmed by sexually explicit messages, images and experiential opportunities, many men have found sex a worthy idol. It delivers the comfort and pleasure they have come to believe they deserve. It provides momentary power without demanding strength. It offers intimacy without insisting on relationship. The insidious trap is set, and men by the millions find themselves bound in the tentacles of arousal and shame. This is their hell.
As if that were not enough, the rabbit hole deepens. For on the spectrum of marred sexuality, Adam’s masculine culture not only creates Johns (men who buy sex), it creates Johns-of-the-heart. While not all men buy sex, they know the place of derision against women in such comments as “you throw like a girl” or “stop being such a sissy.” Far from the conversation about trafficking, these deeply rooted attitudes represent another end of the spectrum. Indeed, the far opposite end of the spectrum, but the very same spectrum nonetheless. In these comments and thoughts, we hear the echo of Adam’s murderous words against Eve, “She gave me fruit. My failure is all her fault.” Jesus is quite clear about blame, hate and anger and equates them to murder.
“And while typical Western men may not involve themselves in physical murder, to use someone else for one’s own pleasure robs her dignity and repeals her humanity. It strips her not only of her clothing but of the image-bearing glory of her femininity, and reduces her to little more than an object” (END). This includes the entire spectrum of marred sexuality, from misogynous attitudes, to pornography, to sex trafficking.
If we are to reclaim Adam, especially with regard to the sexual debacle in which we find ourselves, we must inspire him to reclaim three specific realities:
1. The grace of God runs to him. As a Father, God awaits with anticipation the return of his prostitute-abusing son. He stands on the porch and longs to catch a glimpse of that once-familiar form. And when he does, he runs...with cloak and love and rings and parties, he welcomes the wayward woman-abuser home. Anyone and everyone is within reach of the gospel. Adam must reclaim his home. (Luke 15:11-32)
2. Adam’s primary purpose is to worship. Even the Hebrew word zakar, meaning “male” or “penis,” is directly linked to the ancient notion of worship. Worship is Adam’s nature. Men need to be reminded that they were designed for intimacy and devotion, and that their hearts’ true longing is to have rightly directed worship. Adam must reclaim his God. (Genesis 1:27)
3. Women need Adam’s strength, not his power/domination. For the sex industry to crumble and for every exploited woman to once again find safety, men must regain their strength and battle the darkness, protect the vulnerable and stand up against other men who seek to destroy the dignity of women. In so doing, they reclaim the very design of men to offer their strength on behalf of another. Adam must reclaim his strength.
These 3 realities represent the core of our ministry at Restoration Project: Heal your Heart, Know your God, Restore your World. Empowering men to bring restoration to their communities for those exploited by sex trafficking is vital to our work. END is designed to equip any man in any town to face the spectrum of marred sexuality, wherever they are on it and however they would like to engage. The important thing is that men engage. We need men to engage!
For us to reclaim Eve, we must simultaneously reclaim Adam, for femininity and masculinity are intricately interwoven and interdependent.
FREE BOOK: Click here to order your copy of END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. As a special gift for Suzanne’s readers, the ebook version is free.
Beth Bruno and Chris Bruno are writers, ministry leaders, and non-profit founders committed to restoration. After a decade of working together in campus ministry overseas, they diverged to pursue graduate degrees and start separate non-profits. In END: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking, they have teamed up in their passions, skills, and experience again. When not talking strategy, vision, and direction they can be found parenting 3 kids, playing in the Rocky Mountains, or enjoying their local cheese shop. You can find Beth at bethbruno.org and Chris at restorationproject.net.
Your turn: What are you doing to end sex trafficking in your city? What are some ways you believe men and women could partner together to be more effective in this mission?