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Will shame stop exploitation?

Before kids and the busyness of life, I enjoyed watching Dateline. The stories caught my attention. But there was a specific set of episodes that haunted me. A week after my confession of my secrets, the first episode of Dateline’s To Catch a Predator aired in November 2004. I was intrigued and horrified. Men seeking out underage girls were being lured into fake encounters where they were exposed publicly to the nation, then arrested. Their actions led them to the encounter and the exposure of their secrets, each one guilty.

What horrified me about the show was the men. The men were not the shady common criminals. No, they were fathers, businessmen, teachers, church leaders, and men we typically hold in a place of respect. As the host, Chris Hansen, sat down with each one of them, it was clear the men were seeking out sex. None of them started out looking for underage girls. They had started with porn and their escalation led them to this place. Again, they must be held accountable for their actions, but I saw something different in watching the stories unfold. I saw myself!

Only weeks before, I was still in a decades long battle of seeking out sex to calm the pain inside myself. If I had stayed in my secrets, I believe I could have compromised my principles on seeking out someone underage for sex. Not because I wanted to find someone young, but the drive for sex was so high. I had made agreements and set boundaries with myself that I kept breaking. For years it was only looking at porn. Eventually porn was not enough. I moved my boundary to only chatting with people online. Within months the boundary was moved to phone conversations. My hard boundary was to never meet someone in person. As you may have guessed, this boundary was crossed.

So, if I could continue to move the moral boundaries in my life, I believed I could have moved the boundaries leading to criminal activity. Why? The focus was on my needs and what I saw as sex being a need to survive.

I thought of myself as a good husband and father, but one with secrets. I considered myself a Christian and a kind man. I saw myself the way these men saw themselves, stuck in an unwanted secret life.

My life was changed before it was too late. God broke me before society broke me. He showed me grace before the consequences became too great. This leads me to the question of how do we change the issues of sexual exploitation?

Organizations, secular and in the church, seek to prosecute the criminals. There are several organizations looking to shame men into stopping their actions. But what is lost in the shaming is understanding the men are already acting in their secrets of sexual brokenness.The men know they haven’t crossed criminal lines, nor have any desire to cross them. They are struggling with the current level of “legal” sexual brokenness no longer masking the pains in their lives.Shaming is driving men into darker secrets and moving farther from the idea of confession.

I may not have the answer to how we change sexual exploitation, but Changing Lanes does offer an alternative with lasting results.  We create a place where confession is possible, and shame is reduced. For all the sons, fathers, teachers, coaches, pastors, public servants and everyone else hiding in their shame and secrets, let’s give them hope. If we give hope, we can change their lives.

YOU CAN HELP CHANGE A LIFE

Changing Lanes is designed to help those hiding in shame but want to find freedom. You can help us help your friends, family members, coworkers, church congregation and fellow believers. By joining with Changing Lanes as a monthly donor, you allow Changing Lanes groups to expand into more communities and provide services for anyone stuck in the sexual cycle.

OPTIONS FOR CHURCHES

Pastors and church leaders, your partnering with Changing Lanes provides you with resources and groups to spread the hope of the new life Jesus describes in the Bible. Partnering allows the sexually broken in your church to experience freedom from the shame.

Whether it is partnering or financial support, join us today in providing hope and ending the cycle of sexual exploitation.

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