The following comes to us from someone who attended an 8-week course entitled 'Intelligent Love,' facilitated by REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity) and hosted at First CRC in Vancouver, British Columbia. A mini-grant from Safe Church provided scholarship funds for church members to attend.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3 ESV
We are unlikely to find many in our churches today who would say that they are indifferent to the purchase and sale of human beings. Not many would argue that it's OK to oppress and act violent against people based on their gender, race, or social standing. Yet when faced with these realities in the context of the sex industry, we often find ourselves in a state of inaction. Perhaps it is simply our unawareness of the severity and reach of the injustice taking place. Or it may be that we are aware but at a loss as to how we could possibly start to address it.
REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity) offers the Intelligent Love course to address exactly this. REED is an organization dedicated to challenging the demand for paid sex and the exploitation of women as well as restoring dignity to those exploited. Through the Intelligent Love course, REED invites the members of our churches to learn the why and how of addressing the injustice of the sex industry from a perspective rooted in Biblical faith. Members of the course learn to recognize prostitution as existing on a continuum of violence against women and as inextricable from other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography and human trafficking.
In my experience with Intelligent Love, the course is predominantly marked by two ideas. The first is that our pursuit of justice is founded in Christ. God’s design for humanity as His image and vision for the church demands that we act in seeking justice for the oppressed. The message of the gospel is that of a redeemer and His work of restoration. Restoring us to Him and restoring creation to the state that brings Him the greatest glory. The Church, as the body of Christ, has a calling to be the hands and feet of restoration in the world. Including the restoration of dignity for those who bear His image.
The second idea is that we need to move beyond charity for those who are exploited and address exploitation at its source: the male demand for paid sex. Each session of Intelligent Love guides the participants through contemplation, theological reflection and further, to take action. We are challenged to think, speak, and act differently in our relationships, places of work, and in our churches. We are challenged to take a stand with women. To change the culture around gender and sexuality from oppression to restoration. To push back on sin's distorted understanding of sexuality that leads to the exploitation of women and girls.
Intelligent Love address a need for the justice and redemptive power of Christ that has historically gone overlooked by the church. It gives us an opportunity to live out our faith in action. As James writes: "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did." James 2:22 NIV
If you are interested in bringing the Intelligent Love course to your church, contact REED by emailing [email protected] or calling (604)753-9929.
Learn more about REED and their work by visiting their website below.