A Christian Response to the DFW Prostitution Sting
Updated: May 30
While the majority of these “Christian Response” posts will cover national and international current events, this first installment centers on a story unfolding in my backyard. This week, local and federal law enforcement agencies worked together to arrest 46 men in Southlake and Frisco, Texas, in a massive undercover sex trafficking sting.
While such stings occur regularly across the country, the list of men arrested always shocks communities, broadcasting the sins of their teachers, ministry leaders, businessmen, or neighbors for the world to see. Prostitution and sex trafficking stings always seem to sweep up pillars of the community, turning respect into revulsion by revealing such men’s illicit and illegal activity.
This week, the DFW area both celebrates and reels at the news. Residents celebrate as law enforcement officials advance the cause of justice by harming demand for prostitution and sex trafficking in our community. They reel, however, as they see the mugshots of people they know and love plastered on televisions across the country.
With the mixed emotions and reactions to the news, what is a Christian response to the DFW prostitution sting?
Scripture is filled with references to God’s disdain for injustice (for example, see Micah 6:8). He is a righteous God who hates exploitation and oppression. His love of justice reveals itself in the existence of governments. Romans 13:1-5 teaches that God gives governments authority specifically for the cause of justice—to promote good and punish wrongdoers.
Every case of prostitution involves the exploitation of women for financial gain. Even if the woman consents to the exploitation voluntarily—although prostitution is commonly supplied by sex traffickers—the nature of the exchange falls under the umbrella of exploitation and oppression. One person, by economic or physical means, objectifies and uses the body of another human being for his own selfish purposes.
This sting operation and the laws it enforced serve to address this exploitation by reducing the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking. Rather than punishing the women—many of whom are already involuntarily exploited—the operation punishes the men who drive up demand. For Christians, the promotion of justice and attempts to reduce sexual exploitation and human trafficking certainly warrant celebration.
While we should celebrate justice, we should balance our celebration with the recognition that we do not promote a graceless gospel. As horrendous and shocking as this sin is to us, our own sins are just as horrendous and shocking to God. These sins affront our sensibilities; our sins affront the character of the Creator.
Therefore, we must simultaneously seek justice and promote grace. We should recognize the legitimacy of the legal consequences for their choices while refusing to view them as worse sinners than us. If given the opportunity in person with the perpetrators or in our conversations about them, we should extend the love and grace of God.
Some pastors and church members—thankfully not including me—learned this week of the arrest of other church members, former church members, current or former church staff, and/or the friends and family of church members in this sting. For many, the initial response will include revulsion and anger. These emotions may then spill into condemnation and isolation for the sinner, and the full weight of judgment and wrath from the church. But if a brother in Christ repents and exhibits genuine sorrow for his sin, who are we to extend wrath where God extends forgiveness and grace?
Practice church discipline if the member remains unrepentant. Remove him from positions of leadership until you see growth in spiritual maturity and away from ensnarement to sexual sin. Walk with him as he endures the legal consequences for his choices. But do not reject him. Extend grace to him, just as God in Christ has extended grace to you.
Help and Seek Help
Our churches should be places where Christians encourage and strengthen one another in Christ. Ephesians 4 paints the picture of a church growing in Christlikeness as each person supplies what it can to the body. However, too many of our churches instead represent a weekly performance, in which each member wears a metaphorical mask and pretends to be the holiest person in the room.
Rather than housing judgment and painted-on perfection, our churches should promote vulnerability and support, as we collectively spur one another in our Christian faith. Our churches should be places where men (and women) struggling with sexual sin can confide in fellow believers and receive judgment-free counsel and support.
If you’re not somebody who currently struggles with prostitution, pornography, extramarital affairs, or any other type of sexual sin, create an atmosphere where your brothers or sisters who do struggle in those areas can feel safe to share their struggles and receive help. (Please note: I highly recommend dealing with sexual sins in groups comprising only men or women, rather than co-ed groups).
Conversely, if you’re a Christian struggling with sexual sin: seek help. Be vulnerable enough with your fellow Christians to allow them to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and “lay aside every…sin that clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV). If you don’t believe you can receive judgment-free help from your church—go to a different church! But be willing to be vulnerable, either where you are or where you will go. You were not meant to traverse the Christian life in isolation.
As a Christian, I am filled with a mixture of emotions at this sting. I praise the Lord for the efforts of government and law enforcement agencies to promote justice and protect the innocent. But I also recognize my own sinfulness and the need to extend grace to the perpetrators just as God has extended measureless grace to me. Moreover, as a pastor and a church member, I am reminded of the need to create spaces where Christians feel comfortable sharing their struggles and finding encouragement and support—encouragement and support we all need in various areas of our lives, as none of us are perfect.
Let’s be Christians who celebrate justice and extend grace. And let’s build churches where sin is discussed and handled with love, grace, and support.