We Have Hope
What follows seeks to articulate what motivates us at Project Cultivate to fight against the sex industry, what lies behind the industry, and how we overcome discouragement. Project Cultivate is based in a sometimes under-emphasized component of Christian faith: the work of God to set free from oppression and evil. Not everyone in Project Cultivate is a Christian, and we welcome and want to work with anyone who shares our commitment to empowering survivors of the sex industry and raising awareness about its exploitation and oppression. Whether or not you agree with our views, we invite you to read on, and hope you discover a sometimes overlooked aspect of the religious component of Easter that provokes thought and encourages you.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Our minds are torn when we read Christ’s proclamation in light of the sex industry’s exploitation and violence. We rejoice in our theological understanding that God has defeated the forces of evil and death. When we face the world, however, we see its darkness and evil. The magnitude and intractability of exploitation and economic profit staggers us. Despair threatens to overshadow the empty tomb as we wonder whether the resurrection can bring life and light to those in the sex industry.
In this season of Easter, we at Project Cultivate wish to pause and remember the One Who [has gone and] who goes before us and empowers us to fight and overcome oppression and violence, fear and darkness. Our struggle is not merely against human beings or social structures, but against spiritual forces of darkness and evil,[i] which deceives and then preaches condemnation or placates our pride (depending upon whether or not we feel ashamed of our involvement). The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, Who as God came in human form to preach good news, proclaim freedom, to teach of the way of new and eternal life, and to send the Holy Spirit, has inaugurated the end of the world when all will be set right. His sacrificial suffering and death disarmed and overcame the powers of sin, evil, and oppression. At the end of the age, the full realization of His victory will be evident, when all will be raised and judged according to what they have done. Those who have entrusted themselves to God’s work in Jesus Christ and have been obedient by the Holy Spirit’s assistance will receive eternal life. Because God holds the power of life and renewal, people, social systems, and the entire cosmos may be saved and renewed when entrusting themselves to Him.
At the heart of the issue is our own hearts, which warp and twist in ways unknown even to us. We all need forgiveness, healing, and renewal. God alone sets us right, and we must seek forgiveness in Him. His Spirit may renew us, so that we in full hearts may engage in God’s work.
All is not currently renewed. Yet God loves the entire world, both oppressed and oppressor, violated and violent. Christ’s death and resurrection and the blessing of His Spirit gives hope for people in the sex industry. It also means that neither those who refute lies of false power, acceptance, and survival nor those who relentlessly oppose a multi-million dollar industry fight alone. Release for the captives, freedom for the oppressed, good news to the poor, forgiveness of sins are all a reality in Christ, whether we are inside or outside the sex industry. Through entrusting ourselves to God’s work, we can be saved and renewed and become part of God’s kingdom work to bring freedom, release, and love.
[i] Ephesians 6:12.