UNSHACKLED: A Lesson in Freedom from Gomer the Sex Slave

hosea-gomer

WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT FREEDOM FROM GOMER THE SEX SLAVE

As a 21st Century Abolitionist, who is also a Christian Believer, I notice things in the Bible that I had never seen before I had learned about modern slavery.  Take the book of Hosea for instance.  There is sex slavery all over in this book.

The Leading lady, Gomer, is a sex slave bought and sold by others.  The whole people of Israel participated in the use of sacred sex slaves in the temple/brothels of pagan gods.  And what Gomer, a sex trafficking survivor of the Bible, experienced in God’s hands can teach us all a lot about how we can live in spiritual freedom even today.

Gomer’s story of slavery and redemption is set in a time of unparalleled prosperity in Israel.  The crops were good, the power of their neighbor of Assyria had waned some.  And in this time of prosperity the people of Israel became spiritually unfaithful to God.  They began to worship – not-Gods.  This pagan worship took on the form of prostitution – quite literally, as the “worshipers” would go to the temple-brothels and would pay raisin cakes to have sex with the priestesses there.  This was their act of worship to the pagan gods.  There’s a word I’ve heard that is used to describe these ladies in the temple- brothel… priestitutes. (Get it?  Priestesses + Prostitutes = Priestitutes.  Come on, it’s clever!)  Theese were ladies who were used as sacred sex slaves.

Sex slavery was present in Israel at this time – PREVELENT.  And it was an act of unfaithfulness to God to visit these priestitutes, partially because they were “praying” to the not-Gods for the blessings that had already come straight from the True God’s hand to Israel. In God’s complaint against Israel,

He says in Hosea 2:8…She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold— which they used for Baal.

It’s like God’s saying, “I give and give and give to you, but you don’t even recognize me.  You run off after other non-gods and pretend like I do nothing for you.”  To show them what their brothel-based worship is like to Him, God chooses to give them a very personal object lesson: the marriage of Hosea, his prophet, and Gomer – the prostitute wife.

HOSEA 1:1-11

From the very beginning what God tell us about Gomer is that she gets around.  Gomer is a promiscuous woman who is not the least bit faithful to Hosea. She becomes a mother of three… who knows if they’re Hosea’s kids or not.  And we know that she wasn’t just having flings, she was receiving money or provisions for her sex because in Hosea chapter three, Hosea asks her to quit her prostitution.  And at some point her prostitution is done not just for herself but for an owner or manager – she may very well had ended up in a temple-brothels of the not-God’s.  But whether she was in a brothel or just working for a manager, we do know Gomer became a sex slave.  She was bought and sold.

But why did Gomer become a prostitute?  Why would she do this when she has a husband?  For that matter why does any woman become a prostitute even today?

Shadow-Cover
holly a smithRead about Holly Austin Smith’s story – who like Gomer, is a sex trafficking survivor, in her book Walking Prey:How America’s Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery

SHE IS VULNERABLE TO THE COERCION OF THE AMERICAN PIMP

According to the US Department of Justice, the average age a girl in the US becomes a prostitute is age 13.  How and why does a 13 year old end up selling sex on the street?

Well it often starts as something like this… “She meets someone.”  Someone a little older, a little cooler, cute and funny who shows great interest in her.  He lavishes on her complements, attention, and maybe even expensive or more mature gifts.  She Eats. It. Up. Falls in love even!  Once she’s given her trust completely to this person – her boyfriend flips the switch.  Abuse is often involved – beatings, rape, or threats of violence.  Followed by more love and affection – reeling her back in.  She’s hooked and desperate to please him.  Partially because she’s afraid of him when he goes crazy on her, and partially because she craves the affection he gives her in the other times.  Partially because he’s probably moved her out of her city to a place where she doesn’t have access to help or anything familiar.  And then she’s trapped.  Turning tricks and handing over the cash.  Not free to leave – invisible shackles on her heart and mind.

Why it that the average age a girl enters into prostitution is so young?  Because the 13 year old girl is vulnerable.  The pimp craftfully exploits her weakness.  Luring her in with false promises of affection, provision, excitement, belonging…. Freedom.

WE ARE VULNERABLE TO SPIRITUAL TRAFFICKING

You and I are vulnerable too!  Each of us in varying degrees can be vulnerable to physical slavery, but EVERYONE is vulnerable to spiritual  slavery.  When looking at the book of Hosea and also looking at my own life, I think the thing that makes us most vulnerable to spiritual slavery is… discontentment.  When something is not the way you really want it to be.  Who reading this can say they have never experienced discontentment?

But no matter how good things are going there always seems to be something in our lives that leaves something to be desired.  Sometimes these things are just a bummer to us.  And sometimes they are areas of deep heartache.

Discontentment makes ALL of us vulnerable to spiritual enslavement to not-God’s because the enemy takes advantage and starts to lie to us.  The Pimp of Hell (if you will) – tells us that if we could just have this one thing, it will make us happy at last.  Happy in a way God will not let us be.

We are each vulnerable to spiritual bondage and on our own, we are nothing but slaves to sin, death, and our own destruction.  Each of us a spiritual slave needing rescue, just like Gomer the sex slave needed rescue.  And God provides it for us both.

WHAT IS GOD’S RESPONSE TO OUR ENSLAVEMENT?

In Gomer’s life, the story of freedom goes, that after being lured into sex slavery, God told Hosea to go and love his wife again by purchasing her freedom and bringing her home.  (Hosea chapter 3)  This was to be an example of God’s faithfulness to His very unfaithful people.

What is interesting to me is that Hosea uses both cash currency and then 430 pounds of barley in trade to pay for his wife’s release.  Hosea pays what he can in cash and scrapes up the rest in trade.  Hosea goes broke to bring his bride back home!

You and I are like Gomer and like the slaves of today – because we too were once slaves.  We have a spiritual trafficker that looks for ways to deceive us, and lead us into bondage.  And you and I need to be bought back to God.

There was a price paid for you and I – the sacrifice of Jesus’s life on the cross. 1Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Jesus paid the redemption price to buy us for Himself – spilling His blood, giving his last breath for us in payment for our freedom.  You could say God went broke that day to buy us back.

MORE THAN AN OBJECT

The Thought came to me while reading Hosea….Is it possible that Gomer was more than an object lesson to God?  I think so.  Sure when God sent Hosea to love her and purchased her freedom it was a great object lesson that revealed His faithfulness to Israel and pointed towards the redemption price of the cross for us.  But Gomer truly experienced slavery and truly received freedom.  Isn’t that a gift of love from God to GOMER?  God sent Hosea to Gomer to show His love not only for Israel – not only for us – but for Gomer as an individual.  God rescued her for her benefit, not just for Israel and not just for us – for HER.  He showed His tender love for her as he set her free.

WALK IN FREEDOM – WITH THANKFULNESS

If Jesus paid an extravagant price to buy you and I back from our spiritual trafficker, how can we receive the freedom He offers?  I think the first step is to acknowledge we have been unfaithful and that our unfaithfulness leads us into bondage to sin, death, and our own destruction.  And then acknowledge that you are freed by God who loves you enough to go broke on a cross – buying you back for Himself!

Then, I would like to suggest you practice gratefulness.  In Hosea we can see that it mattered to God that His people should remember His blessings to them.  And they did not.  This made them vulnerable to spiritual adultery.  And I think the same is true for us – it’s true for me.  When we focus on what we don’t have and lose focus of what God HAS blessed us with, we get discontent and more susceptible to the enemy’s tactics to lure us into self-destruction So if step one is to acknowledge the price that has been paid for your spiritual freedom (thru Jesus’ death on a cross) then step two to living in freedom is to practice gratefulness for ALL of the ways God is taking care of you.

o   Keep a gratitude journal of 5 things you are thankful for each day

o   Pray with your children at night and thank God for whatever blessing you can see coming from His hand into their lives each day.

o   Brag on God and tell others how He is taking care of you.

o   Try praying only thank you prayers – no requests – for one week!

Remember (as James 1:17 tells us) that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father and is a sign of his unfailing love for you.

And that’s what really has proved to be freeing to me – experiencing God’s love for me.  As Gomer might tell us, it is LOVE that UNSHACKLES us!  unshackled

READ MORE:

Street Corner Prostitute: Working Girl or Sex Slave?

How To Turn Your Daughter Into a Prostitute

Sex Slave Interview Video

Shared Hope International

 

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St. Patrick knew all about human trafficking

St. Patrick knew all about human trafficking.

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My Chocolate Tastes Like Child Slavery

cranberries-chocolate-M-art-WT-1207POS-A04Chocolate and Children

Who here likes chocolate?  Anyone?  Yes, you, I see that hand.  You’re starting to drool a little just thinking about chocolate right now aren’t you?  Well I like chocolate too — big surprise!  But I’m not so crazy about the child slave labor that is used to harvest over 70% of the the world’s chocolate.

WARNING:  What you’re about to read may leave a bad taste in your mouth!

Cocoa plantations in West Africa provide the majority of the world’s chocolate and they use children to do it.  The worst form of child labor in the cocoa industry an be found in a little West African country called Cote d’Ivoire.  Children as young as six years old are kidnapped, transported across country boarders, and forced to work 80-100 hours a week using machete knifes with little protection, climbing trees, carrying heavy loads, and suffering beatings at the hands of their traffickers.  There are approximately 109,000 children enslaved in that country alone and they harvest 40% of the worlds cocoa.

Check Out this video on Chocolate and Child Slavery: 

Why are children being forced to harvest chocolate?  

Why are children being forced to harvest chocolate? Because they are cheap to use.  John Robins, in his excellent article entitled, Is There Slavery in Your Chocolate? quotes documentary film makers, Brian Woods and Kate Blewett who made a film about the use of child slaves in African cocoa fields.  “It isn’t the slavery we are all familiar with and which most of us imagine was abolished decades ago,” says Brian Woods. “Back then, a slave owner could produce documents to prove ownership. Now, it’s a secretive trade which leaves behind little evidence. Modern slaves are cheap and disposable. They have three things in common with their ancestors. They aren’t paid, they are kept working by violence or the threat of it, and they are not free to leave.”

Today the average price payed to acquire a slave is $90 US Dollars.  Ninety bucks.  That’s next to nothing and the result is that these people are treated as though they are disposable.  Slaveholders use them up and throw them away.  These children are used up and thrown away to drive down the cost of the chocolate on our store shelves…  Does that leave a bad taste in your mouth?  Yeah, me too.

Please Don’t Make Me Give Up Chocolate!

You may be asking yourself, do I have to give up chocolate in order not to perpetuate the child slave issue in Africa?  The good news is that there is chocolate out there that is ethically sourced.  Look for labels like “Fair Trade”, “Fairtrade” and “Rain-forest Alliance Certified”.  You’ll find them in the chocolate and organic aisles.  As of right now there is no organic chocolate produced in West Africa, so if the chocolate is organic it is most likely not harvested by child slaves!

Look For These Labels:

rainforest-alliance-certified-logo Fair-Trade-Certified fairtrade_logo ethically sourced

Slave-Free Chocolate Tastes Sweet… Like Justice!

Here are some ethically sourced chocolate brands EvAb has found.

divinedarkDivine Chocolate

Equal-Exchange-Organic-Baking-Cocoa-745998901013

Equal Exchange

newmans own chocolate

Newman’s Own Organics

3oz_panther__55457_zoom

Endangered Species Chocolate

sunspire-chips-e1328493538381-1024x545

Sunspire

Related Articles:

The SHOP WELL Series: How Do I shop Like an Abolitionist? and The Hunt for Fair Trade

Is There Slavery In Your Chocolate?

Chocolate and Child Slavery: Say No to Human Trafficking this Holiday Season

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Dear American, Happy Independence Day. Love, Your Slave

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate our freedom, let us work to extend that freedom to the slaves of today.  

As you watch this video and listen to a voice from slavery of the past, think about what the slaves of today might say to us as we celebrate Independence Day while wearing the clothing they make, eating the food they harvest, and viewing on the internet the sexual abuse they suffer.

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How to Talk to People about Injustice

I was just at the grocery store buying some Honest Tea when the check our gal said she liked that tea because it tastes so good.  I commented, “And it’s Fair Trade Certified which means a lot to me.”  She asked “What do you mean?”  Telling this young lady that slavery still exists and many tea companies have slave labor in their supply chain was like telling a two year old that puppies grow up in to dogs and eventually die.

It’s awkward to talk to people about human trafficking but this article shares ways we can do it.

How to Talk to People about Injustice.

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SHOP WELL: On Second Hand Shopping

shoping cartI told myself to leave, just move on, but my feet stood glued to the floor surrounded by bright colored, super cute, low priced baby clothes that I NEEDED and really wanted to buy. The problem was, I was in Wal-Mart and I had recently learned that their clothing brands received a poor grade on Free2Work’s report card, meaning there was great possibility that forced labor was used to make them. I told myself to remain committed to buying as much second-hand summer clothes for my two-year old as I could before buying new things, on the other hand, that Hello Kitty swimsuit was so cute! Torn and sorely tempted I took two deep breaths… and walked out.

How can second-hand shopping help end human trafficking?

garagesaleI made the decision this season to go second-hand shopping first, and go retail shopping second. I did this because forced labor is sustained by one thing: demand. The less you and I buy new from the store, the less product is demanded, the less forced labor is used. That’s the idea anyhow. So second-hand shopping can be an act of abolitionism IF it means we buy LESS from the retail store.

I don’t know what your experience is with buying things second-hand, but I had a heck of a time with it. I went garage sale shopping but it seems that in my area, if your kid is bigger than 6 months old, there are no clothes out there to buy. It seems to me that my habit at a garage sale is to come home with things I don’t need and wouldn’t buy first hand anyway.  That kind of garage sale shopping does nothing to lessen the demand for forced labor. It just clutters up my house until I myself have to put on a yard sale.  But this season, I had items in mind that I needed and did find a FEW items that I now don’t have to buy from the retailer.

Next I went to a cute consignment shop I love called Lil’ Muffins. I had much better luck here. I got some great clothes and TWO swimsuits for the price of the aforementioned Hello Kitty one. I felt pretty good and had a good base for what I needed. I DID return to the tempting land of Cheap ‘N Cute, but I only had to buy a few items that I hadn’t found second-hand.

Less demand. Less forced labor.

I CAN shop second-hand first.

 

SHOP WELL SERIES:

1: How Do I Shop Like an Abolitionist?

2: Report Card for Your Clothes

3: The Hunt for Fair Trade

4: On Second Hand Shopping

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Some Retailers Say More About Their Clothing’s Origins

Hopefully this news article is right!

Some Retailers Say More About Their Clothing’s Origins.

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SHOP WELL: The Hunt for Fair Trade

FAIR TRADE PLEDGE

“I pledge to consume responsibly. I recognize that as a consumer, my buying power matters. I understand that each product I purchase plays a role in a larger narrative, affecting the life of an individual. Because of this, I will do my best to purchase products that have been made by hands that are treated fairly. I will seek to support supply chains that treat farmers and workers fairly and demand the assurance that items I buy have been made responsibly from start to finish. This means no tolerance for child or slave labor, dangerous working conditions or substandard pay. I will no longer support systems of oppression and will insist that companies I trust operate with a conscience.”

click here

Click here to sign the pledge and learn more at GoodandFreeClothing.com!

Reading the Free2Work’s report card for apparel brands lead me to investigate a couple brands that scored well but that I had never heard of. I wondered if they had products I would want to buy. While at the incredibly-difficult-to-navigate-if-you-actually-want-to-find-an-article-of-clothing-to-buy website of Good&Fair Clothing… (breath) I found the Fair Trade Pledge that I just shared with you. Along with the pledge, Good&Fair shared ideas to help live it out. There is one idea of theirs I’d like to highlight and it’s very simple: Start LOOKING for fair trade items at your grocery store.

The Hunt for Fair Trade

food-certification-fair-trade-logoLately, I’ve been asking, “How can I buy more products that were made fairly?” instead of asking, “How can I avoid buying products made with slave labor?” It stresses me out less when I stop thinking that EVERYTHING I buy has to be fair trade. But being on the hunt for the fair trade symbol has helped me find products that I can feel good about. By purchasing fair trade products more often, I’m voting with my cash — voting for justice and supporting brands who do the same. I think that makes a difference.

So look for the fair trade symbol while you’re shopping this week. Maybe you’ll find a product you really enjoy that you can feel good about purchasing I’ve found that the organic aisle is more likely to hold products with the fair trade symbol. There’s a connection there — products that are good for your body, good for the environment, and good for the workers who produce it. honest tea I found HonstTea (an organically grown, fairly harvested, fair trade tea product). It was delicious and I think I’ll get it again! I wonder what we’ll find when we’re on the hunt for fair trade. Let’s keep our eyes peeled and think about the Fair Trade Pledge that Good&Fair Clothing so kindly made up for us.

SHOP WELL SERIES:

1: How Do I Shop Like an Abolitionist?

2: Report Card for Your Clothes

3: The Hunt for Fair Trade

4: On Second-Hand Shopping

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SHOP WELL: Report card for your clothes.

shop for clothesHow do I shop like an abolitionist?

The first stop on my journey to answer the question, how do I shop like an abolitionist,  is to visit Free2Work’s website and learn more about the brands I frequently buy.  Free2Work investigates and grades companies on their efforts to reduce child and forced labor.  It’s like a report card for the brands you shop.

Click here to see the report card for your clothes—->free2work

 

If – by chance- you don’t want to read to whole thing, you’re in luck!  I’ve done the work for you.  Here are the highlights. (You’re welcome.)

Apparel Industry Report Card Review (2012)

It wasn’t that long ago that apparel companies publicly renounced any responsibility to the workers in its supply chain.  Now, companies are putting standards in place that show they at least believe they have a responsibility to try to end modern slavery, though the impact of their current efforts are still minute and much more work needs to be done.

The companies were graded in four main areas:

POLICIES: they evaluate the brad’s code of conduct, sourcing and subcontracting policies, and involvement with other organizations working to combat child and forced labor.

TRACEABILITY & TRANSPARENCY: They look at how thoroughly the brand understands its own supply chain, and whether it discloses critical information to the public

MONITORING & TRAINING: They measure the adequacy of the brand’s monitoring program to address the specific issues of child and forced labor.

WORKER RIGHTS: They assess the degree to which the brand supports worker well-being by ensuring that workers are able to claim their rights at work through organizing, and whether workers earn a living wage.

High grades do not necessarily mean the supply chain is free of child and forced labor, but it means they are better managed relative to other brands.

Report Card for Apparel Brands 2012

Report Card for Apparel Brands 2012

WHO SCORED WELL?

Brands that got an overall A score include Maggie’s Organics, Hanesbrands (Hanes, Just My Size, Playtex, etc.), and Good & Fair.

Yeah – I’ve never heard of two of those companies either.

WHO FAILED?

Brands that failed (in a worse way than the others) include Ambercrombie & Fitch (Hollister and Gilly Hicks) with an F score in almost every category.   Skechers got a flat out F score.  And to no one’s surprise, the Walmart brands such as Faded Glory, No Boundaries and Simply Basic, failed in almost every category, coming in with a D score.

Yeah – I’ve got some of THAT in my closet.  Might even be wearing a shirt from one of those brands right now as I type…  Yup.  I am.

What can I do to shop well?

I can continue to educate myself at Free2Work.org.

I can use the Free2Work app on my smartphone to help me choose whether to buy from one brand or another.

I can ask my brands to work on their score through sites like: ChainStoreReaction and this one asking WALMART to shape up.

Related pages:

What to end human trafficking? There’s an app for that.

SHOP WELL SERIES:

1: How Do I Shop Like an Abolitionist?

2: Report Card for Your Clothes

3: The Hunt for Fair Trade

4: On Second-Hand Shopping

Posted in Call to Action, Resources | 3 Comments

SHOP WELL: How do I shop like an abolitionist?

shoppingSHOP WELL

In my previous post: How to be a 21st Century Abolitionist, one of the steps I shared was to SHOP WELL – Using our purchase power to support fair-trade items and companies.  This is a step that I admit I need to work on personally.  I put it off for a long time because I was afraid that shopping like an abolitionist would mean I’d have to make my own hippie-like clothing, give up my iPhone, and never eat chocolate.  Now listen, I want to end slavery and it bothers me to think that things that I have bought have been made, mined or harvested by slaves and children… but avoiding all products with slave labor in their supply chain seems a bit overwhelming.  I seriously can’t sew worth a darn (pun intended), my iPhone is my life, and chocolate? — let’s not even go there.

So aside from becoming a consumer recluse and living off the land — how can I use my purchasing patterns for justice instead of enslavement?  That’s what I’m looking into these days.  So I’m beginning the first ever series on EverydayAbolitionist.com to share what answers I find to the question: How do I shop like an abolitionist?

SHOP WELL SERIES:

1: How Do I Shop Like an Abolitionist?

2: Report Card for Your Clothes

3: The Hunt for Fair Trade

4: On Second-Hand Shopping

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