Thursday, February 09, 2006

Praying For the Porn and Sex Industry in Portland

Since November 2004, my church and people from around the country have been praying about the overwhelming amount of pornography, etc. in Portland. As may be apparent from the articles in the recent Willamette Week and any commute for a length longer than 10 blocks, the city
has the highest number of "adult businesses" per capita in the nation.
These establishments are as ubiquitous as corner donut shops are in
some other cities. There are well over 40 strip clubs, bookstores and
"other businesses" for the 2 million of us.

I felt impressed that a prayer map was needed to organize prayer for Portland; I asked my church to pray for
these businesses as we unavoidably pass by them in our daily
activities. Last year, I did a superficial survey of the phone book and came up
with a map (shown below or at http://prayingforporninportland.blogspot.com/ ).

As I have been driving and walking by a fraction of these places for
the past year, I have prayed that God would cause the businesses to fail. The good news is this: Location 9 went
out of business almost immediately after we started praying and has
not reopened, Location 3 went out of business last month even though
it was in a high foot traffic downtown location, Location 7 did not go
out of business, but this last week, "Dancers" was removed from the
list of attractions for the bar. I know about these places, not because I have saught them out, but because I
pass by them on a regular basis,. Location 14 was on the news recently: it did not
shut down, but apparently the police broke up a prostitution operation
at the establishment.

The goal in wanting these places to go bankrupt is not because I
despise the people involved with them. I really don't want to see
somebody unemployed, fall short on their rent, or otherwise have their
lives ruined. My prayer is that God would reveal a true, unending
source of satisfaction to the patrons and employees of these
establishments. Where once there were parched and vacant spirits, I
pray that there would be overflowing Living Water and abundant Bread
of Life.

There is a limit to which sex can satisfy the soul. The urge to procreate is a God-given survival instinct and the pleasure of sex is a gift, but so many of us have made an impotent god out of sex. I propose that many of us, both in the church and outside, are enslaved to sex. I can say this with confidence because I am a sinner (though I strive for holiness and know that real spiritual fulfillment can be found in a relationship with Christ).

I believe that people who profess to be Christ-followers have become apathetic toward sin and desensitized by an implied message from
society that says "you're a bigot if you don't tolerate this". I believe that
at some point, God's people in Portland stopped calling on their
Father's name when they saw the things that they knew grieved Him.

Once God stops hearing from His people that sin bothers them, I
believe He often allows us to live with the filth that we can
apparently tolerate.

Parenthetically, the wrong way to respond to the problem is to deny
that these are spiritual issues and try to handle things out of our own human
understanding.

It is implausible that pushing an agenda of
morality will really be effective in changing society or healing Portland. Referendums, amendments, and petitions may spark conversations, but, the conversations tend to be US VS. THEM- they repel, they lack in humility and exude arrogance. We cannot claim holy highground because we all fall short of perfection.

Obviously, Christians should boycott the sex industry, but going the
political route does not address mankind's need for Christ and it shows our lack of courage in His power.

To those who believe that the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, I plead with you to pray that Portland would be released from the bondage of sexual sin. As you pass by these businesses, don't apathetically look the other way. God desires a response of love for your neighbors and
trust in Him to change hearts.

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