In 2004, one of my ministry volunteers gave me the book, Disposable People by Kevin Bales which made the stunning claim that our modern world has more slaves today than any period of human history. 25 million+ humans enslaved by other humans. I couldn’t believe it, I can barely fathom it now, but its true. It is happening today.
Far too many of those humans are a particular form of slave: sex slave. They are owned and exploited sexually for profit. Sex slavery is massive business even in this country, even in this state. Many of those trapped in the horror of sex slavery are children. The average age is 15. Again, unfathomable and true all at the same time.
I struggle to know what to do about such an overwhelming reality. Of all the “gospels” and solutions thrown around for the world’s problems, I remain steadfastly committed to the only good news worth pursuing – that of Jesus Christ and his unique ability to change what the heart wants. For all our talk about forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, surely two phenomenal gifts, one of the great miracles of Jesus’ gospel is he changes what we want and rearranges our priorities. Until powerful people change what they want, sex slavery will be a reality. Jesus truly is their only hope.
In 2009, college student Blythe Hill wanted to do something about it, but didn’t have the technical training to make a difference, so she started wearing a dress every day in December simply out of solidarity. People asked what she was doing and the next year her friends joined her and by 2013, she decided it was time to go public and use “Dressember” to raise money for organizations committed to this cause. Her goal for that first Dressember was $25,000 which she thought was preposterous. She raised it in 3 days.
Since 2013, Dressember has raised over $3 million. Thousands of women participate from all over the world. The money goes to two world class organizations. International Justice Mission and A21. They work in all facets of the issue: legislation, outright rescue, prevention, recovery.
For our family, Dressember got real when our friend Linnea participated. The following year Kimberly jumped on board along with some others. Then several women from our church joined including my wife who is a Dressember BOSS. This year my sister Toni has joined the team! Now team #sugarandspicegirlshavenoprice has 26 participants.
Men can participate too. We wear a tie every day for the month of December. What is that like? Its a royal pain, especially in the day of slim fit shirts. I feel like someone is slowly choking me throughout the day while I violate Colorado Casual attire and endure funny looks. Yesterday I strung the lights on our roof in a dress shirt and tie.
But I do it to stand in solidarity with the women I love and respect. I have the deep privilege of being married to, related to, father of and friend too some remarkable, powerful, dignified women. It is a privilege to participate in Dressember with them. It’s a very small gesture, but I can’t think of a more important time to stand in solidarity. The last months have brought some very evil and dark behavior into the light.
Like most people, I have been disgusted and shocked at the menagerie of powerful famous men who have sexually exploited women for their own selfish gain. Their repeated pattern of aggression and abuse is disgusting and I know it is the tip of the iceberg. I know it also means there are exponentially more non famous men who do it to women who have little or no recourse. It pervades all facets and power institutions of our society, including the church. #metoo. #churchtoo. Its true. Until we allow God to sift our desires and proclivities with his grace, we will never change.
It is not true of all men, of course. No one is saying that it is. Just as I am privileged to know great women, I also know many great and decent men. But I have been humbled to learn how even decent men can be complicit through ignorance or silence or even dismissal of women’s stories. As I read some of the stories making the news, I can’t believe the aggression, behavior and calculating moves these men made. “Can’t believe” can equal, “dismiss.” Us men need to use our power more to speak against this despicable behavior. We should all be safe for all women, all the time. That sentence should not be as radical and counter cultural as it is.
So I am wearing a tie to do my part to raise money to stop this madness. I would be grateful if you would consider donating to IJM or A21 through the Dressember campaign.
It all goes to the same place. Thank you for considering donating.
And yeah, if you live nearby, you’ll see me in a tie this month. Its highly unusual. Last night, I was way overdressed for my wife’s office Christmas party and it felt weird. I’ve been wearing a tie for 3 days and already explained it over a dozen times. Maybe that’s part of the point.