Archive for the category “Marty Duren”

Broadening the discussion on injustice

Have you seen Gary Haugen’s new book, The Locust Effect? It gets down to a thorny issue at the heart of the constant battle against poverty.

marty-durenMarty Duren writes at Kingdom In The Midst:

A recent interview in Christianity Today hit me between the eyes. Why We’re Losing the War on Poverty featuring Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission is a blunt evaluation of our efforts to fight injustice, specifically sex trafficking. Haugen, a former DOJ and UN investigator, says:

You can look to the struggle against slavery in the 19th century, to the struggle against child labor, to the civil rights movement. In each, the church had a critical role in not only being an advocate, but also deploying specialized expertise and skills in the work of justice. At the turn of the 20th century, the amazing police reform in New York City was influenced by a Presbyterian minister, Charles Henry Parkhurst.

Throughout history are hidden other stories of Christians taking up their biblical, prophetic role—not of seizing governmental power, but of using their power as citizens and their moral voice to ensure that the state’s power was used to protect the weakest. In Scripture, God’s people exhort the rulers, the authorities, to exercise their power with justice. The fight for law enforcement is now being engaged in the developing world. The violence manifest in the developing world is actually against the law.

The problem is not that the poor don’t get laws. The problem is that they don’t get law enforcement. There is a functional collapse of law enforcement systems in the developing world; the poor are left utterly vulnerable to violence. This is another historic opportunity for the people of God to be on the side of justice in very practical ways.

When people think of poverty, they tell you what they see: the shacks, the dirty water, the hungry families. Those are all the visuals that immediately come to mind.

What they don’t see are the assaults, the slap across the face, the rape, the torture by police, and the extortion. It’s intentionally hidden by the perpetrator. The victims are scared and ashamed, and it’s difficult for them to speak. People don’t talk about the things they don’t have solutions for. People working in the development field and in poverty-fighting or public health don’t often come from law enforcement.

The primary fields of IJM’s work are international, thus Haugen’s comments are drawn from Third World experiences. This leads CT’s Timothy Morgan to ask “What can the average American Christian do about violence against the poor thousands of miles away?” The missing element is this: these abuses of power, up to and including law enforcement, are not limited to the third world. They are prevalent in the United States.

A January 27, 2014 article out of San Diego reports Sex Trafficking Overtakes Drug Trafficking As Gang’s Top Cash Source.

San Diego’s rival street gangs like the BMS, the Neighborhood Crips and Brim have put aside their differences over turf and drugs, and have struck up alliances to sell women and girls, some as young as 12.

“They’re absolutely a syndicate,” [FBI Special Agent Robert] Howe said. “We have noticed an increase in the sex trafficking piece over the drugs. These criminal enterprise street gangs have realized the profit margins are so much bigger.”

It’s a cash-rich business for pimps because the girls and women can be sold and resold daily.

“You have a product that you don’t have to keep in inventory,” San Diego U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. “You don’t have to purchase it. You don’t have to wait for the money to come back on this product and then buy it from the supplier. You are not as exposed as you are if you are caught with drugs to being caught with a woman or being a girl.”

Of course this is maddening and heart-breaking at the same time. These stories could be told millions of times a day. But, as a friend asked, “What can we do to change things?”

I’m feel sure Wilberforce asked himself the same question.

What hit me between the eyes is how IJM engages those in authority. They challenge the justice system by rousing community leaders to action.

The decades long evangelical strategy toward societal change has been the attempt to reform political systems. Voter drives, running for office, boycotts and the like have all been used as pressure tactics. Many of these have been at the national level over court rulings, appointees, and congressional bills. Perhaps we have overlooked going to our local council member, mayor, deputy mayor, or county commissioner, having a face-to-face conversation then publicizing the results.

I have a blog. If I were to meet with a public official over an issue of homelessness or child abuse then write a report of that meeting, it brings a different kind of pressure than, “I’m not voting for you.” Incumbents rarely have anything to fear. But if the conversation changes all around them, they have to listen.

Maybe all you have is Facebook. Use it to change the way the conversation is presented.

If we continue with the same strategy we will likely see torturously slow results. Voting out one band of self-serving politicians in favor of another profits nothing. The milk is still spoiled. Instead, let’s ignore party affiliations and keep the pressure on regardless of who holds office.

Girls caught in the comparison trap

Marty Duren writes at Kingdom in the Midst:

“I could never look like that.” –A million teen aged girls

A dangerous reality in Western civilization is the temptation of young girls to compare themselves to the sexualized airbrushed images of models, singers and actors. The “new normal” has a brutal effect on the average girl who does not have a troop of stylists focusing solely on her for hours each morning.

Even-tempered viewing of commercials finds immodestly dressed women in dreams (KIA), in grocery stores (beer), in courtrooms (GoDaddy), as cars (Fiat), eating burgers (Hardee’s) and–GASP–as angels (Victoria’s Secret…is out).

Those who are Christ followers have been redeemed from the need of comparison. Scripture teaches that we are “in Christ” and “accepted in the beloved” (Jesus). If God has accepted me because of Jesus Christ, why should I despair if someone else has straighter teeth, thicker hair or bigger biceps than me?

I would encourage any pre-teen or teen girl (or adult woman) to reject both the idealization and objectification of the female image. There is no perfect woman (either in looks or substance), nor is there an ideal woman toward which you all should strive. And, rather than falling for that trap, Christ-following women should speak against the expectation that enough botox, foundation, mousse, helium or fake butt-cheeks can make one beautiful. Take care lest you end up a Frankenstein’s monster due to beauty blindness.

Read the full article here.

Our comfortable injustice

Marty Duren writes at Kingdom in the Midst:

The subject of justice has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the Christian community of late. … Owing much to the heartbeat of young believers who have proclaimed that being the light of the world means actually being in the world in order to light it, there has been a renewal of interest in stopping injustice wherever it occurs. It is now easier to convince believers who were formerly on the sidelines to stand against sex traffickers, corporate exploitation of third world workers, government undercutting of a national economy (suffered by Haiti, for instance), or to become involved in adoption movements. Injustice now arouses our anger. Even when we do not know exactly how to act we are, at least, moved viscerally to pray. We are concerned, and we often express it online, on the phone or in person.

Despite the advances recently made one area where issues of justice have a hard time building a fan base concerns the injustice of the American “justice” system. … As it now stands in the United States, the most consistent, the most embedded, the most troublesome injustice is our justice system. It has become a perpetual motion machine of search, arrest, cajole, convict, and imprison.

Read the full article here. 

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