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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Light District

The most disturbing thing about the red light district of Amsterdam, to me, is not that prostitution merely happens—it happens in every city of the world—but the public view of the red light district. It is seen as a wonderful expression of personal freedom. It is seen as a utopia of sexuality.

We’re all familiar with the Dutch concept of tolerance. It’s an important part of Dutch culture and history. For instance Catholics were tolerated to worship after the protestant revolution as long as it was done discreetly, it didn’t hurt anyone, and it was profitable.

At some point in Amsterdam’s history, prostitution has moved up several notches from merely being tolerated, to being celebrated. The red light district has moved from being a shameful and hidden thing, to a loud, openly proud culture of hedonism.

Just 2 years ago, they put up a statue in the square of the Oude Kerk, to celebrate the occupation of prostitution around the world. People came from around the world to join in and show their support for this wonderful, woman-empowering trend.

Today the red light district is like a carnival. Every day hundreds of tourists come through the red light district, often with their kids, to have a good time. The atmosphere is like a carnival or a zoo. Women stand in windows all along the streets selling themselves.

Drunk Englishmen stumble around the streets yelling cat-calls and insults at the women. American families walk through, gawking at the ladies, their kids pointing and giggling amongst themselves. Dutch businessmen prowl the streets, their wives waiting at home.

How can something like this still exist in our western society? It is primarily because of a host of lies. This behavior is all the result of a host of deeply rooted lies that are propagated by a few evil men (all those with a pro-district agenda), and then readily believed by a world who is more and more giving up morality for hedonism.

Here are just a few of the lies:

1. Prostitution is harmless
2. All the women are willing participants
3. The women love their jobs
4. Prostitution empowers women and gives them dignity
5. Prostitution decreases rape and sexual abuse

These lies are very strongly propagated to the world, and people very easily believe them, because they want to. They want to believe it is all real.

What will happen if we continue to believe these lies? More and more women will be abused and taken advantage of in the name of freedom and civil liberty. Yes, freedom is what they think it is. The red light district has turned the world upside down and called slavery freedom.

This culture of hedonism is growing and spreading. A new generation is growing up with fewer values than ever. They grow up believing that women are objects, that they are commodities, that promiscuity is normal. What’s more is that the world has its eyes fixated on Amsterdam. Millions of tourists come through every year. They are affected by the culture of the red light district, they don’t see past the lies to what is really going on, and they go home thinking, “What a great place!”

How did this all start? Centuries ago, during Amsterdam’s ‘golden age’, the church of Amsterdam actually condoned the creation of the red light district district, justifying it by saying that it would help protect 'dignified Christian women'. They gave up their authority in the matter when they said, “prostitution is OK.”

Now, as if by prophetic symbolism, the Oude Kerk—the oldest church in Amsterdam—is literally surrounded by prostitution windows as if in the very clutches of the sexual immorality it so long ago condoned.

If things are going to change in this place, the Body of Christ needs to take its authority back, raise its voice and publicly condemn prostitution.

Our task is then two-fold. We have the roots of the issue, or the lies, and the we have the fruits, the women and the men who are sexually broken. Both need to be addressed. Mostly, what we have done in the past is only take care of the fruits.

The problem is that when one woman is 'rescued' from prostitution, there is immediately another woman recruited to replace her! So the answer doesn't lie in merely ministering to the women involved, but it lies in tackling the roots of the problem, and that means addressing the issue of demand, and ultimately the hots of lies.

How can we change the way a nation thinks? How can we expose lies and shed God’s light upon them? How can we make known what God thinks about the issue, when the only voices that are being heard are from those with of a pro-district agenda?

We have a lot of work to do. It is no small task to change the way the public thinks. Tackling this difficult issue will take all the heavenly wisdom, and all the sincere prayers we can get.

SPF