A Controversial Move by the Salvos

This is one of those issues in which I am of two minds. Yes and no is how I want to respond. There seems to be a bit of merit in either direction. So what am I referring to? The decision by the Salvation Army to have a booth at the notorious Sexpo later this month.

Here is how the Herald Sun introduces the story: “Sex and the Salvos are not the most obvious bedmates. But the Salvation Army will join the likes of Club X, Condom Kingdom, Fluffy Cuffs, Kinky Boots, Savage Lingerie and Awgasm at Melbourne’s Sexpo this month. Its stall will promote ‘Christian understanding of sexuality’ and raise awareness about the human trafficking in prostitution. Salvos social justice director Capt Danielle Strickland will distribute material on human trafficking, the sexualisation of girls and ‘Jesus loves porn stars’ New Testaments, which tell how a porn star found God. But she won’t be preaching moral messages.”

So what is a Christian to make of this? It seems some pluses can be mentioned. It is good that material on the biblical view of sex is being made available, but one can ask if handing such items out at the front of the expo would be a better way to go.

Presumably they are paying good money to have a stall there. Can money going directly into the pockets of the exploitative sex industry be justified? Should one do similar things – and spend similar amounts of money – elsewhere, in order to get a contrary view across?

Another plus would simply be a spiritual presence in such a den of iniquity. But again, is there biblical precedence for this? Paul can speak of it being shameful to even speak of those things which are done in darkness (Eph. 5:11-12).

Of course it will immediately be pointed out that Jesus hung around with sinners. Well, yes of course he did. Indeed, he could do no other. Every single human being that has ever walked the earth – except Jesus – was and is a sinner. So in that sense he was always amongst sinners on a daily basis.

But what many will have in mind is when the critics of Jesus said that he – and sometimes, his disciples – was a friend of sinners. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, for example, exclaimed the Pharisees (eg., Luke 7:34). And yes we have some occasions when women of ill repute came to Jesus.

In Luke 7:36-50 we have one such account. So yes, sinners of all sorts were attracted to Jesus, and came to him. We are not told when the woman in Luke 7 was forgiven, but her actions speak to her having received the Lord’s forgiveness, something the Pharisees could not understand.

But we clearly do not have an account of Jesus going to places specially designated as formal places of obvious sin. We do not read about him going to brothels in order to preach to prostitutes for example. But when such people came to him he of course ministered to them.

In John 8 we read of how he dealt with the woman caught in adultery. He forgives her and tells her to go and sin no more (John 8:11). So yes Jesus always was with sinners, but always with a view toward having them repent of sin and enter into the Kingdom. Jesus could simultaneously associate with sinners while condemning all sin.

Yet we are told in this article that the Salvos are not exactly going to do that sort of thing. We have already been informed that Capt Strickland would not “be preaching moral messages”. She also said, “We’re not going there to condemn anybody. We aren’t going to lecture people. We’re going there to be available”. Which raises the obvious question, just what does being “available” entail in this context?

Again, we need to reach all sorts of people with the gospel – those in the porn industry as well. I am just wondering out loud if this is the wisest way to go about this. Indeed, my main concern really involves just one thing. But it seems to me that this one concern outweighs most of any potential positives that might come out of having a booth there.

My concern is this. Simply by being there, the Salvos – whether wittingly or not – will be doing one very important favour for the sleaze industry: they will be giving them further legitimacy and acceptability. The one thing the multi-billion dollar a year smut industry wants is to be seen as any other normal, respectable business.

It craves, above all else, respectability, legitimacy, and to be seen as just another way of earning a living. But this, it seems to me, is something we must never do. It is not just another career. It is a vile, exploitative and filthy industry which uses and abuses women, all to make literally obscene profits.

If the Salvos believe they are doing the Lord’s will by being there, then what can I say? It just does not seem like a wise move to me. Jesus said we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). He also intimated that often the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8).

Just who will benefit from this arrangement? The smut industry will benefit greatly from it. Indeed, the article mentions this: “Salvation Army officers attended Brisbane’s Sexpo this year, where Capt Strickland said they had a great time and were warmly welcomed.”

I bet they were warmly welcomed. This is handing the smut peddlers legitimacy on a silver platter. This is giving them a golden opportunity to appear to be just another mainstream industry, holding another mainstream convention.

I am not so sure that we need to be feeding into those lies. And for what it is worth, I have had a bit of experience here in this. A number of years ago when I was heading up a national family organisation, the head of the porn lobby invited me to come to Sexpo and have a debate with him.

I thought about the invite for about a half second, then threw his fax into the bin. There was no way I was going to lend any respectability and legitimacy to those folk. But the Salvos seem to think this is the way to go.

So we may have to agree to disagree here. If they feel this is what they must do, then I will pray for them. But part of my Christian responsibility may well also take the form of writing this article.

As can be seen, I have asked a lot of questions here. I do not necessarily claim to have all the answers, and this clearly is an issue in which believers will probably differ on. However, let me mention this: when the newspaper’s vote line asked ‘Is Sexpo an appropriate venue for the Salvation Army to preach from?,’ I voted ‘no,’ (even though the question may not have been worded the best).

But as I said at the beginning, to a limited extent I can see some arguments both ways. However, at the moment I still feel rather uneasy about it all. I am sure many of you have strong feelings on the subject, so let the comments start pouring in!


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71 Replies to “A Controversial Move by the Salvos”

  1. Hello Bill,
    I normally agree very much with what you say but I voted Yes to “Salvos at Sexpo?!”
    I think we need to take every opportunity to get the gospel out there – where the people are at.
    Salvos do it in pubs. Churches do it at New Age events.
    The issue probably isn’t all that “black and white”.
    We are called to preach the gospel to all the world – so I suggest it should be preached there – and that can be in form of banners, hand-outs etc, engaging people in conversation (not preaching at but asking questions etc which open the way to discussions and proclaim the gospel etc) – after all Jesus spoke and ministered to prostitutes, sinners etc
    I believe if someone has a call to minister to these people, then let’s encourage them even if we dont want to join them.
    Perhaps that does more good than just writing to the Editor or to a website – and we probably don’t do that enough either (or boldly enough)
    Blessings, and Thank God for the Salvos!
    Geoff Dyer

  2. Thanks Geoff

    Yes I had thought about Christians renting booths at New Age festivals as a good counter example to my concerns. However, it may be a bit different there. The Christians there are presumably trying to do one main thing: show how New Age thinking is not the answer and how Christianity is the one true answer to issues of mind, body, spirit. It is more overtly evangelistic there perhaps.

    I guess I was a bit concerned about how the Salvo Captain kept saying she was not going there to preach or be moralistic, etc. But it is always possible the Herald Sun did not cover the story fully or completely accurately. So we may yet hear from the Salvos themselves on this one.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Hi Bill,

    Earlier this evening I had a debate with some of my Facebook friends on this same story and came to the same conclusions as you. I also voted “no” in that poll. It seems to me that this action is analogous to the Uniting Church having a float in the ‘gay’ mardi gras. Whenever I see the term “social justice director” in connection with a church office, alarm bells start ringing and I expect it to be connected with the promotion of all kinds of trendy lefty causes. It seems that this case is no exception.

    This kind of event is something Christians should be protesting against, not paying the organisers to have a stall and in so doing effectively endorsing and condoning what Sexpo is about and is promoting. If the church wants to do something about this, then a presence outside the front door would be far more appropriate. They could hand out literature to those entering the event or even preach some kind of message involving repentance and warning against lust. Now wouldn’t that be a novel idea?!

    The “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” tract seen in the photo accompanying the article is produced by an American outfit calling themselves “xxxchurch.com” They are a controversial ostensibly Christian group that attends these kind of events in the US and have drawn criticism from religious conservatives for their tactics which include drawing attention to their stalls with large inflatable phalluses.

    The problem with a “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” message is that it’s a partial truth that can easily be misunderstood to mean that there’s nothing wrong with porn. Of course Jesus does love all people, but he also hates sin and pornography most certainly is sin because it encourages lust, among other things.

    I sometimes wonder what William and Katherine Booth would think today of the church they founded? I doubt they would be pleased.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  4. I agree with what you say – if we (she/they) are not preaching the Gospel – but that has different meanings in the Church (not in scripture). Therefore I was trying to differentiate between “preaching at” and “proclaiming the gospel” in a way that people can receive – conversationally and asking challenging questions etc (as Tactics book by Gregory Koukl that you have previosuly commented on). I dont know how this woman ministers in brothels (and presumably the same at Sexpo) – she may love them (care for their eternal destiny) and proclaim the gospel truth to lead people to repentance or she may just “love” them in a way that does not challenge their current thinking and is therefore not in line with Jesus’ actions – I have given her the benefit of the doubt
    Geoff Dyer

  5. Further, some comments by William Booth
    (cannot really judge actions in this particular case but wonder if going into Pubs was seen in a similar light at that time)

    “You must do it. With the light that is now broken in upon your mind and the call that is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty. Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.

    “Can we go too fast (far?) in saving souls? If anyone still wants a reply, let him ask the lost souls in Hell.”

    and similar by C.T. Studd:
    “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
    I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

    Other interesting quotations on Evangelism at

    Geoff Dyer

  6. I think the fact that this has to be debated is probably reason enough for the Salvos to have given this a miss. Too easy for someone to speak (or think) in ways that ultimately legitimize pornography or in fact any misuse of sexuality. The organizers of Sexpo claim they are promoting healthy sexuality, but I seriously doubt adding business to sex could ever be considered healthy. My understanding is that biblical morality holds that sex is way above any monetary transaction. The sex Sexpo peddle can only ever be a cheap pathetic copy of the real thing.

    Capt. Strickland can justify it as much as she likes as having been discussed amongst leadership, but actions speak louder than words. As a single guy, it’s particularly disappointing. It’s difficult enough to fight this battle of faith without a part of it being given up in an official way like this. Sexual morality is not the only focus of a Christian life, to be sure, but Scripture strongly acknowledges that we treat this subject with great care. It is a very powerful force in our lives – the most important one of our physical bodies in fact – and therefore it is extremely important to be strict about its intended use. Jesus clearly made adherence to it a matter of thoughts too, not just actions. Under the New Covenant, we are actually called to an even higher standard than Mosaic Law here. We have to hold that standard up officially, even if many reject it, even when we individually fail (and given the demands of Jesus, we all do.) You only have to look at history to see what works. (lookup JD Unwin… or those other writings, you know, the Bible?)

    And yeah, Ewan, I’ve changed my mind about the xxxchurch guys too. I’m not disputing the motivations, but I strongly suspect any ground won in the short term will be much less than the ground lost in the long term. The trouble is that that long-term negative effect is a lot harder to quantify. But speaking personally, I find that kind of thing a hindrance more than a help. For that reason I stopped looking at what those guys were up to a long time ago. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Too easy for the mind to wander.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I hope the Salvos ditch this idea. There are plenty of other ways of reaching people lost in bondage to distortions of sexuality without creating this potential amount of bad outcomes. Maybe not as trendy to market, but why should that matter?

    Mark Rabich

  7. They should have a booth outside, not inside. They give it legitimacy by being inside. What are they going to do on the inside? Are they going to say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. No one is perfect and so God would not expect you to turn from your sin.” This sexual perversion is just becoming institutionalized in our culture and the church is blessing it.

    What they need to say is, “We are here to warn you that the sexually immoral, the adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, greedy, slanderers and swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11) We warn you because we love you. We urge you to turn from your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.”

    That is what the Apostle Paul did and that is what William Booth and the early members of the Salvation did. They called sin sin and were hated, abused, assaulted and vilified, but they saw sinners gloriously saved.

    Tasman Walker

  8. Thanks again Geoff

    They are good quotes, but still… They are telling both for what they say as well as what they don’t say. To be honest, I am not convinced that either Studd or Booth would want to go into Sexpo. Note that Studd did not say ‘in hell’, but close to it! A Christian witness outside of Sexpo may be a more appropriate outworking of Studd’s comment.

    There are of course Christians working with people caught up in the sordid world of the sex industry. For example YWAMers in Amsterdam have a ministry to the red light district workers. They build relationships with the women and seek to win them to Christ. But I am not aware of any YWAMer actually going into a sex club to be a witness.

    So again, I am not too sure about the Salvo strategy here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Thanks guys

    Some more quick thoughts on this. The YWAMers working in the red light district in Amsterdam are all women. It would be foolish in the extreme to have any male Christian workers being exposed to undue temptation there. So males are automatically – and wisely – excluded from that work.

    At Sexpo the majority of stuff would presumably be aimed at lustful men. But of course the smut industry is trying to diversify – in order to make yet more money – so they are seeking to build up a female clientele as well. So presumably they would have male sex workers (strippers, etc) at Sexpo appealing to women. Thus this female Salvo would have those temptations to deal with.

    And even if the event were comprised of only female porn stars and the like, such an environment would surely have a negative and corrosive impact on even the strongest of Christians, I would have thought. I am not sure if it is a wise thing for any believers to expose themselves to such garbage and temptation.

    Yes believers are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. So yes some Christians may evangelise and pubs and the like. But something like Sexpo seems to be step further removed, and really out of bounds. But I am still open to be persuaded otherwise.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Surely once Christians realise just what Sexpo is all about and just how perverted it all is, then none but the most liberal of us would condone any Christian group from going inside the door let alone actually paying for a stall there. I started to look at the Melbourne Sexpo online program but soon had to stop due to the explicit nature of it. It is nothing but one big porn show and yes Bill there does appear to be male strippers to appeal to the female attendees, so one wonders which way Capt Danielle Strickland will be looking?

    Very few of the reader comments under the Herald-Sun article are critical from a Christian perspective of the Salvos actions here, but comment #13 is worth reprinting:

    Of course she wont be preaching. The Salvo’s seem to have stopped doing that awhile back. However, their founder William Booth most definitely preached! He preached the true gospel; that mankind has sinned and broken God’s law. That Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God and that one must come with a repentant faith to Jesus for mercy. The Salvo’s, along with the vast majority of, “social justice”, humanistic and pragmatic ‘churches’ out there shrink at making such statements. But that is the message that Jesus preached. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”, He said. The Salvo’s need to turn from their ways and look back to their founding fathers and “Preach the Word!”

    Ewan McDonald.

  11. Another important point here is that it must be made clear that Sexpo is moralizing here. Of course, most people would scoff at such a concept, only thinking that that word describes negative views of certain behaviour, certainly not this this so-called ‘open’ or ‘healthy’ view of it.

    But there is nothing healthy about the commoditization of sex. Does an exhibition like affect moral values? Absolutely! The more it does, the more money they are likely to make!

    How cynical and twisted a view of sex. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced the Salvos should not be there.

    And it is completely different from a pub, Geoff – there is at least some case that can be made from Scripture for alcohol not being intrinsically sinful (eg. Jesus turning water into wine), but there is no case that can be made for this kind of business in even in the smallest dose. Jesus told us what one thought is equivalent to. The Salvos by attaching their brand to Sexpo like this do a great disservice to their image and an even worse act for the Kingdom of God. It is no good getting so close to the fire to rescue people that even more people get burned. The first rule of first aid is to manage danger to ensure that no more people get hurt.

    If all this is still not enough, perhaps they can imagine this hypothetical conversation:

    A: “Where are you going?”
    B: “Sexpo, wanna go with us?”
    A: “Uhh, well, I dunno…”
    B: “The Salvos are even there this year!”
    A: “What?! I gotta see this!”

    Don’t try and tell me that something like this will never happen. The church should be seeking to shut down this kind of distortion of sexuality, not empowering it. Rev 2:20

    Mark Rabich

  12. I listened on the radio today (774 ABC in Melbourne) to an interview with the lady leading the Salvos team for this event. One thing that came across crystal clear in the interview is that this was a social justice activity; it was about raising awareness of people trafficking and the impact that this has on people caught up unwillingly in the sex industry. The Salvos lady made some very clear and very good points in that regard.

    If they were going there to “witness for Jesus”, that would be a whole other matter, however they made it pretty clear that proselytising wasn’t on the menu. Nor would “being judgemental” be on the menu. Only “raising awareness of people trafficking”.

    The question that I have is not whether this ‘raising awareness’ is a good thing or not (clearly it is), but whether its a good idea for the Salvos to be associating their name with it. They obviously think its a good thing. I’m not so sure, but at the end of the day its their name, so its their decision, not mine.

    Does it bring the name of Jesus into disrepute? I don’t know. When he walked the earth he spent plenty of time with all sorts of disreputable people and was pilloried for it. Far be it from me to suggest that He ought not to have done so.

    Q. Is this situation (Salvos as Sexpo) fundamentally different to, say, Jesus hanging with prostitutes and tax collectors?

    The only answer I can give at this point is a qualified (and not absolutely certain) “Yes, it is different” … a key difference I see is that Jesus was there to seek and save the lost; I am not sure that we can say this of the Salvos in this specific instance (though they may well argue the point).

    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  13. Bill

    Although I have never met the officer in question, I am quite sure that The Salvation Army and Captain Danielle Strickland are quite capable of fighting their own wars (pun intended). Nevertheless, let me point out a few things that you might not be aware of.

    The Salvation Army did not wake up one morning and decide to hold a booth at Sexpo. They have been involved in working with prostitutes for well over 100 years, persuading them to leave the trade and turn to Jesus as their Saviour from sin. Sometimes that work has been controversial. In Melbourne in the 1880s, Captains James and Alice Barker used to visit brothels and play the piano for the girls, giving them an opportunity to talk gently about their spiritual life without condemnation. These days we’d call it friendship evangelism. In 1885 in Britain, Salvos were imprisoned for demonstrating that a girl could be bought for the white slave trade and unwillingly shipped to the continent for prostitution. (The girl in question was, of course, perfectly safe in their hands!) Nor was this originally a social justice issue. The first home for women in Britain was started because two prostitutes, converted at a Salvo meeting, had the choice of returning to the brothel where they worked or becoming homeless.

    Today there are more slaves than in Wilberforce’s day, trafficked to places around the globe, including Australia, for prostitution and cheap labour. The Salvation Army is heavily involved in the Stop the Traffik campaign to combat this horrible trade. If you imagine that any display publicising this campaign at Sexpo will glorify the sex industry, you are sadly mistaken.

    I can understand people being concerned about the ramifications of having a booth at Sexpo, but it should be remembered that this is only one aspect of a (so far) two year campaign that includes visiting brothels, encouraging and supporting prostitutes to leave the trade, and creating opportunities to share the Gospel with them. (Remember the trouble the Salvos got into in Brisbane not so long ago for daring to suggest that the sex trade was exploitative?)

    I find it hard to believe that the exhibition organizers (who are more likely to be business people who mistakenly see this as a good market opportunity, rather than serious sleaze merchants) would tolerate a booth set up outside Sexpo, nor would handing out leaflets on lust have the same impact as confronting attendees with the human face of the sex trade. And if that doesn’t open up opportunities to share the Gospel, either there or later, then I will wonder what the Holy Spirit is up to!

    I am disturbed that some of the comments on this issue suggest that Captain Strickland is some kind of bleeding-heart trendy leftist. A quick Google will show that prior to becoming social justice director she was a corps officer (minister), planting 13 corps (churches) in 13 years. In addition she co-founded The War College, a cutting-edge youth leadership training facility that preaches Jesus to drug addicts, the homeless and other ‘dregs of society’ in Vancouver. It also contains the War Room, a 24-hour prayer room that has provided the inspiration for an increased emphasis on prayer around the world.

    I’m sure that there are things about the modern Salvation Army that would disappoint William and Catherine Booth. I’m not convinced this would be one of them. They were known for taking to Gospel to people who wouldn’t darken the doorstep of a church and in ways that raised more than a few eyebrows then. Christians were not made for sitting in churches waiting for people to come to them to hear the Gospel. They were called to go out into all the world… including Sexpos! But, by all means, pray for this venture. Pray that it will create opportunities to share the Gospel. Pray that it will demonstrate God’s love for sinners. And pray that the rest of us will start doing the same in our own areas of influence.

    Jenny Hein

  14. Thanks Jenny

    But a few points in reply if I may. Of course Christian work with prostitutes is not a new thing, either with the Salvos, or with Christians in general. It has always been a long-standing ministry of the church. But the issue here is the best way to conduct such a ministry, and whether entering Sexpo is the best way for Christians to go about it.

    You are quite convinced that the Salvo presence at Sexpo will not glorify the smut industry. But please tell me how you can be so sure about this. I fail to see how it will not glorify and lend unnecessary credibility to Sexpo and the porn industry. That has always been my concern and it still is.

    Indeed, I was once asked by the head of the porn lobbyists to join forces with them to resist sexually violent porn. I said ‘no’ instantly. It was the same sick strategy, aimed at giving the sleaze industry respectability. I told him all porn is harmful and exploitative of women, not just so-called violent porn. I was not about to get into bed with the smut industry, even for a supposedly good cause. I did not fall for his ruse.

    In other words, I was not naive about their sinister intentions. One can ask if, in a similar sort of way, the Salvos are not being naive here, and are being duped into doing the porn lobby’s agenda. Is fighting sexual slavery a good thing? Absolutely. Is this the best way to do it? I am not so sure, especially if it ends up giving credibility and respectability to the rest of the sleaze industry.

    Whatever victories you might achieve on the one hand it seems you may lose on the other hand. So I am not at all sure that there is any net gain to be had here.

    And with all due respect, if you really believe that the “exhibition organizers” are mere “business people” and not “serious sleaze merchants” then you are sadly being quite naive here.

    You say Christians were ‘called to go into Sexpo’. I would of course be most interested to see chapter and verse here. I have already said we are indeed called to witness to others, and be a force for good in the world. But I do not know of one passage in the entire Bible where we are told to go into obvious places of institutionalised sin and depravity to be a witness. Do you? If so, please provide the relevant passages.

    Also, you speak about “opportunities to share the Gospel”. But both in print and on radio your Captain said that this in fact is exactly what the Salvos will not be doing. She seemed to make it clear that preaching and witnessing would not be on the agenda. So who is right here – you or her?

    But I think my article and subsequent comments have provided most of my thoughts on this. No one is disputing the need to stand up against sexual slavery. But that is really not the issue here. The point is simply whether it can wisely and effectively be done by having a Salvo booth in Sexpo. You and the Salvos obviously think it is no big deal. Some of us have genuine concerns. So we may need to agree to disagree here. But thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    (BTW, you speak as if you are a Salvo yourself, but you nowhere actually inform us as to your status. Perhaps a bit of full disclosure here would be of help.)

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  15. Personally, I find the idea of being at Sexpo campaigning for ‘Stop The Traffik’ highly ironic, since I don’t really understand what is so fundamentally different from that and any girl or woman exploited for the porn business. But maybe that’s just me.

    Now I’m prepared to admit my personal status brings with it a level of bias, but even discounting everything else I’ve previously written, I simply don’t believe the Salvos desperately need to do this. The cons vastly outweigh the pros. I will repeat, I don’t believe the motivation here is necessarily wrong, but this action is simply unwise. Wedding yourself to something that makes sex into business is too easily misconstrued as tacit approval.

    BTW, my housemate works for the Salvos and he has reminded me of the great work they do in other respects. I agree. I want to make it clear that I support that and have even done the odd bit of work with and for them over the past 17 years. My criticism on this thread should not be misunderstood as a broad criticism of the Salvation Army.

    Mark Rabich

  16. Stephen, do you remember which 774 program had the interview to which you refer or about what time was it? I would be interested to hear it if it was one of those programs that is podcast.

    Ewan McDonald.

  17. HI Bill,
    I also generally agree with your views on things but I do have to differ on this ocassion. Outreach to the broken and hurting has been a part of our calling from day one I believe. I am aware of a group in China who on a daily basis are actually visiting the women in the brothels to offer them a different way of life. I am aware of Christian musos who have turned away from the usual Christian music scene to take their message into the pubs and clubs. I know of numerous organisaitions in places like Bangkok who spend their evenings talking with the bar girls inside the establishments.
    I think the problem we have in the west sometimes is that we see things in very black and white terms when in fact they are not necessarily so clear.
    To be honest, I would rather see the Sallies at this venue than at some Christian conflab where everyone professes to be a believer.
    Thanks Bill. Quite odd to be on the other side of the fence to you for a change.
    Warwick Murphy

  18. I agree with Bill’s comments on this issue. A few years ago some members of the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women tried to hand out pamphlets outside SEXPO alerting people attending to what is happening to women who are trafficked and abused within the prostitution and the porn industries. They were howled down and abused. Can you imagine what will be said to those manning a Christian stall inside this type of exhibition which is a blight on society. The organisers will use the Salvo’s presence to legitimise their push in the promotion of degrading sexual pursuits.
    Madge Fahy

  19. Hi Bill, women’s brains are not wired like a man’s. We do not tend to respond in the same way to visual stimulation.

    “So presumably they would have male sex workers (strippers, etc) at Sexpo appealing to women. Thus this female Salvo would have those temptations to deal with.”

    I do not agree that women would find this an issue. Far better for women to be there than men. I think you will find the majority of male sex workers are for other men, not women.

    A far great issue for the women Salvos there will be the lusting male patrons seeing them as objects and vilifying them.

    If they have the calling and the conviction to withstand that, God bless them. God knows how much the victims of that industry need a saviour!!!

    Lynn Nerdal

  20. Does throwing a lifeline legitimise drowning? Do ambulances make the road carnage respectable? I think that contrary to lending stature to the event the SALVOS’ presence draws attention to the great and desperate needs in that deep darkness. We ought not to shoot the front line troops in the back, better to aim high or support them.
    Tony Morreau

  21. Bill,
    The Salvos today has changed, and is more concern about welfare and caring for people in line with those who embrace a social gospel. That’s why their presence at the event is never intended to point people to Jesus and the salvation He offers. It’s just a mere publicity for themselves and educating people about their activities. The issue here is not in the participation but in the message you intent to get across. Is it the full gospel (‘full’ meaning covering the need for personal salvation) or is it just limited mainly to the social concern of the body. Concern for welfare of people is good and very godly, but the lack of emphasis on the salvation of souls makes it no different from other non Christian charitable organisation. My impression of the Salvos is that, it is just that. Correct me if I am wrong.
    Barry Koh

  22. The problem for me would be I would want to check out the other stands. Paul says: ‘Flee immorality”. If you give Satan an inch he will take a lot more. I have asked the West Australian paper for a list of Sponsors for the gay mardi gras and never received one – simply so I could boycott them. I stopped supporting the Salvos and some other causes when they ceased mentioning Jesus in their requests for money. Far better if they had a stall ourside the sexpo.
    Rob Merrells

  23. Bill,

    Sometimes I think Christians make the mistake of thinking that their message is automatically to be recieved as more legit and more valuable by people just because it’s the Christian message. I think we do this because we KNOW it’s the truth, and when you think about it, how could the truth not be the most valuable and desired thing in the market place. The thing is though, most non-Christians don’t think this way. People are constantly shopping for the truth in a marketplace of ideas, and for Christians to present their views with a level of arrogance that says ‘we are right and you should believe us just because,” robs people of their agency and right to think for themselves. I think the Salvos operating a stall informing people about human trafficking and exploitation of women at the Sexpo is putting in a direct call to the people who fuel both of those things. It could be seen as legitimating, although not necessarily, but that’s as far as the cons for this go in my books. And if the final result is that someone is informed and therefore changes their behaviour and one less person is trafficked, then that’s ok. The ends justify these means for me.


  24. To all of those who oppose their fellows in Christ,

    It seams to me that wisdom is out the window on this topic entirely since in trying to avoid giving credence to the sex industries you have taken to shooting down your own.

    Is one sin worse than another? Don’t all sins amount to the same sentence?

    Is this really an issue of self righteousness by abstinence rather than one of taking Christ to the market place? (That’s the place where Jesus upset the people who were righteous by attending to sinners Mt 9:13)
    Any similarity here is of course intentional.

    If Jesus could associate with tax collectors and prostitutes alike and advocated rendering to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s wasn’t He Himself funding some seriously evil deeds? Aren’t you also funding the death of countless babies?
    Aren’t you also supplying condoms to school children?
    Shall I continue to list the things that your tax $ is giving legitimacy to?

    So in the light of the implied list of sins that you grudgingly support with your hard earned dollar why shouldn’t the Salvos take Christ to the market place?

    If you really believe that protesting is a New Teatament admonition, (I’d like to see scripture and verse for that)shouldn’t you be going on a taxation strike or something so that you can both make a statement and remove yourself from participation in these ‘vile’ atrocities?

    I could be wrong but it seems to me that it was Christians complaining that made Dan Brown a rich man and gave his fiction so much credence that they had to make a movie about it so that even those who would never read his book would get the picture.

    If you have nothing better to talk about for Christ’s sake keep quiet. Mark 9:39. Did I say that too strongly?

    1Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
    I can see how you might apply this scripture to the Salvos vs Sexpo but how does it apply to you?

    Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

    How has your commentary edified anybody?
    Philippians 2:1-2,5 If there be therefore any consolation Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
    Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

    Since we are not all of the same mind on this topic we all obviously need to repent and get the mind of Christ before we… (read the rest of the chapter yourself and see where it leads)

    Keep sweet

    Karen Siegmann

  25. There’s a vast difference between Christian musos “take[ing] their message into the pubs and clubs”, and what the Salvos are doing here.

    Firstly, although you will often find sinful things going on in pubs, they are not an establishment inherently designed to promote sin. Pubs can be places where Christians can go for a meal or a social drink. But Sexpo has one purpose and one purpose only, to promote and normalise perversity. There is nothing redeemable about Sexpo events. They are not a place where Christians should go for any reason other than as a witness, and that can be done from outside the front door. In fact these are events that Christians should be trying to close down either through legislation or by direct action, in the same way that we should be trying to have prostitution and pornography criminalised.

    Secondly, it’s commendable if the Salvos want to be a Christian witness at this event (instead of demonstrating indifference like many churches do), but it’s not necessary to participate in the event to do so. As has been said already, a presence outside the front door is a more appropriate tactic.

    Thirdly, from the media reports we have, the Salvos have “made it pretty clear that proselytising [isn’t] on the menu” and neither is “being judgmental” (to quote from Stephen’s report above). So one must ask just what kind of a Christian witness will they be? They won’t be mentioning salvation and they won’t be mentioning sin, so it’s no wonder the report also said that when the Salvos attended the Brisbane Sexpo earlier this year that they “had a great time and were warmly welcomed.” It’s ironic, they are after all the Salvation Army, not the Secular Army although this is what they are fast becoming.

    Capt Strickland says on her blog that the Salvos have two reasons for operating a stall at Sexpo. One to highlight human trafficking and two, to promote Jesus. So are they there to proselytise or aren’t they? It would appear this second goal involves giving away copies of the “Jesus loves porn stars New Testament”. Regardless of the merits or otherwise of this publication, the fact remains that both of these objectives could be done from outside the venue. You don’t have to participate in darkness in order to be able to shine the light.

    Lastly, for those who still think the Salvos are right to participate in this sordid event, have a look at the program brochure. But a warning, it’s basically just a pornographic magazine.

    Ewan McDonald.

  26. Tony,
    Many people regard Salvos as a respectable Christian organisation and the ‘neutral’ and non condemning stand taken by Salvos would be perceived as the organisation viewing the event as non offensive, acceptable and thereby lent legitimacy to the event. It would be less harmful if Salvos is not a christian organisation, assuming that it has not already departed from its original vision and goal. Down playing the gospel at the event will give a wrong message that any lifestyle is okay and not a big issue to be concerned about. Many visitors to the event are those without biblical knowledge and they will perceive the message that way. It’s better not to participate if it gives the wrong impression that such represents the view of the church.
    Barry Koh

  27. @Ewan … yes, I can point you in roughly the right direction … the program in question was on Thursday, 12th October 2009 and it was on 774 ABC Melbourne some time between 8:30am and 10:00am … probably Jon Faine’s program IIRC.
    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  28. Thanks guys

    Well this post has certainly generated thought and discussion, which I think is a good thing. It has also at times perhaps generated more heat than light. But as I originally said, I can see some of the arguments both ways. However I still remain unpersuaded for the most part about the wisdom of this move.

    Perhaps I can make one more general remark here: a number of people have rather glibly and somewhat carelessly thrown around this often-heard phrase, “after all, Jesus hung around with prostitutes…” This seems quite problematic to me. But I guess it all depends on what people mean by “hung around”. If the understanding is that Jesus spent a lot of time with prostitutes, then there are at least three things that need to be pointed out here:

    -In the four Gospels there are at best only a handful of times that we read about Jesus and ‘prostitutes’ in fact having any contact.

    -And in some of these times (such as the Luke 7 passage that I mention in my article), it is not even clear that the woman in question actually was a prostitute.

    -All these incidents seem to be about a loose woman coming to Jesus. We are never told in the Gospels that Jesus went to them, or ‘hung around’ in brothels and the like.

    So this phrase really should be exorcised from the speech of Christians. It is misleading and does not really add anything of real value to the discussion.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  29. @Karen … ummm … we’re just having a normal discussion here, with some expressing concern, some not sure of their position, others being generally supportive. I am curious: does your concern that Christians should not “oppose their fellowss in Christ” extend to your criticisms towards some of those commenting here? If I mumbled “pot calling the kettle black” quietly within your hearing, might this ring any bells with you?
    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  30. Thanks Stephen

    Yes I was going to say something similar about that remark. It is not a question of ‘opposing”’other Christians here; it is a question of some believers sharing their heartfelt and prayerful concerns with other believers about a somewhat important issue.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  31. Bill, your no-nonsense refutation of the compromising S.A. is to be commended. Years ago, Bob Ferguson, a brilliant musician used to be used by a pub in Lorne to pull drinkers in with his brilliant trumpet and guitar work. Then he became a Christian.
    Thereafter he used to stand outside the pub, still performing beaut music to pull drinkers out – to hear his testimony for Christ. Sinners came to Jesus. He didn’t go into their hell-holes and nor should we. By their actions, the Sallies tend to give legitimacy to homosexual and heterosexual depravity.
    Dallas Clarnette

  32. Tony, a major problem with your analogies is that both your examples are accidents whereas we are talking about the porn industry, something somewhat deliberate.

    Your illustrations would be more accurate if there was an organization that actually promoted drownings and road accidents in Australia (making money off them somehow) and the Salvos set up a stand at one of their exhibitions and never denounced the fact that their activities destroyed lives. I believe the key difference here is that Sexpo is an organization and you should treat that vastly differently than individuals. Jesus didn’t die to redeem Sexpo, he died to redeem the people who go to Sexpo, along with the rest of the world.

    Madge Fahy has pointed out accurately that if the Salvos actually dared to threaten either the business earnings or the morality of the people involved at Sexpo, they would probably not be “warmly welcomed.” Surely that alone says a great deal. The gospel of Jesus is threatening in a sense to every sinner because it demands we admit we are wrong. There are surely other ways to reach people without risking endorsing or encouraging others getting further into this greed-driven packaged sleaze. For every soul that may get reached by this kind of action, I fear there will be probably more pushed the other way. Tony, I actually feel I am supporting their work by making a scriptural case for not losing focus of the main goal, which, based on the conversation with my Salvos housemate last night, is the spreading of the gospel.

    Karen, I think this post edifies because behind this it raises the general subject of discernment, which every Christian should have, but in reality we all only have it to varying degrees. But our ultimate compass must be Scripture. Not to put too fine a point on it, I think the texts you quote don’t quite fulfill the bare minimum of being quite as applicable in view of the fact that specific verses about sexual conduct exist. The ones I quoted above are both from Jesus (Matt 5:27-28, Rev 2:20) That surely overrides any somewhat strained extrapolation of verses calling for us to be ‘likeminded’ or similar, which we can only achieve in as much as we conform to Christ first. Notice also that v4 of your Phillipians quote in context tells us to “look out for the interest of others.” Given the results of the porn industry over a few decades now, I think you could quite reasonably argue using that verse as part of a justification to warn people off.

    And here’s a different hypothetical – imagine this advertising in association with Sexpo – “we even have a stall from Jesus!” My housemate claimed that the Salvos would likely object if the organizers from Sexpo tried to use them like that, but that isn’t really the point. Does that sound right or not? And why would the Salvos object if they were actually going to be there anyway?

    Mark Rabich

  33. While I doubt the wisdom of the Salvation Army’s involvement with Sexpo, the comments on the issue reminded me of the book A Narrative Of Incidents In The Eventful Life Of A Physician, written by Doctor John Singleton in 1891, just before his death, in which he describes forty years of fruitful ministry in Melbourne.

    On Page 276 he writes, “I have always been respectfully treated by all classes, even in the brothels themselves [in those days, probably in Little Lonsdale Street]. I have everywhere spoken plainly to all of their sin and guilt before God….. Sometimes I met numbers of men seated in these houses of ill-fame, and if any of them ever spoke rudely to me, the women at once said I was their true friend, and they would not allow me to be insulted. I occasionally induced one of the young men to read aloud the seventh chapter of the Book of Proverbs, which often filled them with dismay and conviction of sin”.

    Facing this page, there is a black and white engraving of the good doctor addressing a group of prostitutes and their clients, all very respectably dressed, and sitting in a species of very respectable-looking parlour.

    Bill James

  34. Hi Bill. as far as I am concern I am still weighing this one up. However, I am tending to lean toward C.T Studds rescue shop within a yard of hell.

    Couple of observations.
    Has anyone talked to the Salvos directly or have we fallen for the trap of listening to a secular media’s (often distorted) reprting on this matter? If I were Capt Strickland I would deliberately withhold most of the details from the media. Lets remember that we are in a battle and the last thing we want to do is tell the enemy our strategy. In fact we want to be “welcomed warmly” into their camp.
    Setting up outside these events can often be seen as a bunch of do gooders protesting on the outskirts. Sometimes we need to get in there and mix it with the bad guys.

    Kevin Clark

  35. Thanks Kevin

    “Sometimes we need to get in there and mix it with the bad guys.” To be honest, you really have me a bit worried about that one! But I think I have already shared my concerns on all this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  36. Hi Stephen

    Are you saying that by responding to the article I gave credence to backbiting?

    I saw it coming don’t worry. that’s why I included myself in the solution. Shall we set a date to begin or do you have a better idea?

    ‘we all obviously need to repent and get the mind of Christ’

    Keep sweet

    Karen Siegmann

  37. Dear All,

    in reading I had to think about the story behind ‘the God of this city’. You may, or may not be familiar with this song, but it’s on Chris Tomlins CD ‘Hello Love’. Here is a link to the song on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0hJ4JfPeKs

    But, I think the most remarkable thing about this great song is the story behind the song. Here Chris is talking about how he was able to sing this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co-RP2isqZY&feature=PlayList&p=932AF21D80C917CD&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

    And here is a link of the original singer (the singer from Bluetree, from Belfast) talking about how he got to sing the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXh_tgjnYJw

    On a conference I heard a speaker say something along the lines of “We all have a light to shine, and I want to shine mine in the dark”. She explained how easy it would be for her to shine in a place where there already is a lot of light… but how much more strongly she had a desire to shine where there was no light yet…

    I think this speaker and the guys from this band have been shining their light in very dark places… and this is what the Salvo’s are going to do.

    Also, the xxxchurch was mentioned already. Their website is http://xxxchurch.com/. I have met the man who has started this church. (I think it was in Brisbane when they were going to see what influence they could have on the Sexpo in Brisbane). There is nothing on their minds to condone pornography or anything of this industry. But they dont want to condemn the people visiting at sexpo’s, because that would close the doors for conversations.
    I understand that people will think they are controversial… but I am glad that they are doing it. They don’t do this work lightly, they know the costs… they know that they have to be aware.. but shouldn’t we all be aware, even in normal life?

    I also understand the debate concerning what the salvo’s are going to do. But I think the biggest controversy is that they will be there ‘to bring awareness about sex traffic’ rather than actually bring the gospel there. I don’t know whether this is really the only thing they will be doing. Of course, what I have read in the paper as well, is that it isn’t their main focus to share the gospel, I haven’t talked to the Salvo’s, so perhaps it is interpreted wrongly compared to what they meant to say. (Bill, you probably have experience of your words being used wrongly in the media?). Clearly they are working together with the xxxChurch and their focus is definitely to liberate people from the bondage of pornography and sex addictions. The New Testaments with the cover saying “God loves porn stars’ are exactly that… New Testaments, they will definitely bring the gospel as well…

    Personally, I think it is great that they will be there. And perhaps we can ask them afterward how it went…. and I am sure they will also evaluate themselves to see whether it was worth going there or not.

    Mendel Otto

  38. Bill James,
    Great testimony of John Singleton. He went straight into the den and ministered to the prostitutes and their clients with love but did not mince his words about what the bible says about sin and judgement and the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus. More than the respect he won, he led many to the saving knowledge of Christ as their personal Saviour. Similarly, Salvos participation in the Sexpo event should have both the element of love and as well as being forthright in proclaiming the clear gospel message. Otherwise, they just lend legitimacy to the event and the lifestyle they represent.
    Barry Koh

  39. The Salvation Army people, by having a stall at the Sexpo exhibition are giving this crowd a small boost in publicity and an air of respectability, when they don’t deserve it. If the Salvos think that they will have any individual or mass conversions there among that crowd, then they have illusions of grandeur. Also, comparing SA workers mixing with this crowd, to going into hotel bars collecting money, is an insult to drinkers. I don’t have an axe to grind here, because I don’t go into hotels, but everyone who has a drink in a pub is not a drunk or some great sinner. After all, although some religious fanatics, who are in denial, don’t believe Christ drank alcohol. When he changed water into wine, it was wine, which was to be drunk, it wasn’t just grape juice. Finally, Salvos mixing in a group of sexpots, should remember that if you place a good apple among half a dozen bad apples, the bad apples don’t turn “good”.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  40. A parable, shamelessly pilfered from elsewhere and modified to suit:

    A sex worker fell into a pit and couldn’t get herself out.
    A fundamentalist came along and said, “You deserve your pit.”
    A psychologist came along and said, “Accept your pit. That way you’ll be happy.”
    An apostate liberal came along and said, “Your pit is God’s beautiful gift to you.”
    An activist came along and said, “Fight for your right to stay in your pit.”
    A politician came along and said, “Discrimination against people in pits is illegal.”
    A charismatic came along and said, “Just confess that you’re not in that pit.”
    Respectable people came along and said, “We don’t associate with pit-dwellers.”
    Her mother came along and said, “It’s your father’s fault you’re in that pit.”
    Her father came along and said, “It’s your mother’s fault you’re in that pit.”
    The Salvos at Sexpo raised awareness in the media about the perils of pit dwelling. [1]
    Jesus, seeing the woman, loved her; He reached into the pit, put his arms around the her and pulled her out.

    [1] I freely acknowledge that this is terribly unfair to the Salvos, as they do a LOT of REALLY GOOD WORK across our communities … however given the specifics of the Sexpo scenario, it sort of fits the parable. Feel free to disagree if you don’t like the characterisation, but keep in mind the context.

    Stephen Frost

  41. I am mindful of the discussions we have in the UK through Street pastors – who go out on the streets late friday night and early saturday morning. On the face of it there should be no prosletysing, but we have a team of prayers based in a church interceding. It is amazing the number of people who then approach the street pastors and then raise the matter of faith which then opens the door for people to talk about Jesus, as if the Holy Spirit is really orchestrating the conversation and turning mens’ heart to God. I suggest you cover the SA members with prayer and ask for significant encounters where they cant help but talk about sin and repentance and the savior Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit goes ahead of us to convict sinful man dead in his transgressions.
    David Wilson

  42. Thanks David

    If the Salvos were to do just what you suggest, I would have had fewer concerns to begin with. But it is exactly because the Salvos will not be doing what you want (seeking “for significant encounters where they cant help but talk about sin and repentance and the savior Jesus Christ”) that I am doubly worried here. One, they are giving the sleaze industry legitimacy, and two, they don’t even seem to want to evangelise and share the gospel.

    As I have stated repeatedly now in both my article and in my comments, the Salvo Captain has made it clear over and over again that preaching is just not on the agenda for their time at Sexpo. In which case, why not just allow some secular group to come in and have a stall on sexual slavery? I am sure plenty of secular groups exist that lobby on this issue. Why have a group that claims to be Christian coming in, if it refuses to even mention Jesus and his work at Calvary?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  43. Hey Bill, I’m afraid, on this rare occasion, I must disagree with you. As a church planter trying to bridge the relevance gap, I believe that the Salvos and XXXchurch are probably going to make more of an impact than the main stream church will ever realize. One of the decisions I was guilty of making many years ago, along with others on the diaconate at our church, was to hold a prayer vigil outside the local Mind, Body and Spirit Expo. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but only served to add bricks to the wall of irrelevance that already stood between the community and the church. The other stall holders were upset of course, as were event organizers, not to mention the public patiently trying to get passed. The group were unceremoniously removed. Since then I have seen the work of churches who know with conviction that Jesus is the best answer ever to all things of the Mind, Body and Spirit, and as a result, rather than subversive leaflet drops, stall fees are paid, and the alternative view is presented with love and grace, rather than fear and legalism. I have been burdened by the churches lack of response or involvement in sexpo for a number of years. I totally agree with a number of the other comments, Jenny Hein and Tony Morreau among them. As for your response to Jenny, there are certainly references to sexpo like situations in the bible. I imagine the prophets of Baal shouting out, cutting themselves and dancing around begging Baal to light the alter was a lot like sexpo, and yet, as nervous as Elijah may have been, he trusted God and God came through.
    The church, for too long, has lost the battle with the current over sexualized attitudes, because while we may say we believe sex is God’s gift to us, we still treat it as a secret, grubby and taboo subject, and our actions often rightfully paint us as wowsers. If sex is enjoyed at it’s best within a loving Christian marriage, growing better and deeper as the the relationship grows, and if we believe it is a gift from God, then why not claim the truth that “greater is He that is in us than is in the world” and boldly (and legally) present the alternative. Sex in a ‘lovemaking’ context rather than all the focus on the mechanics and performance is something that media and in turn, society has pushed aside, and yet many crave that kind of intimacy. Our attitude should be the sa,me as that of Christ. Connected to God, we go into the dark places and bring light. Apart from Him we can do nothing. If you know you have a weakness in this area, don’t go, but don’t look at the people caught up in this industry as an evil lost cause, because all of us should honestly look at ourselves and say, “There, but for the grace of God go I”.
    It is time for the salt to be sprinkled to enhance the flavour of these peoples lives, rather than being piled up outside!
    The church has a lot of work to do, because for the most part it has become a barrier between lost people and the God who loves them, rather than the conduit to Jesus that it ought to be.
    Mike Baimbridge

  44. Thanks Mike

    Hey, I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. In fact, I rather expect it! But as I keep saying, on some of these issues we may have to agree to disagree.

    However I really do not find convincing the claim that Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Ball is in any way analogous to taking a booth at Sexpo, especially if the aim is not to proclaim who Christ is. Elijah’s battle was over who is the one true God. There was no hiding of Elijah’s Yahweh. But the Salvos do seem to want to play down Christ, at least in the sense of not directly proclaiming him in any significant way, as admitted by the Captain.

    But yes the church needs to get more involved in resisting the sexualisation of our culture. I know a little bit about this, having spent the past two decades fighting the sleaze industry, and seeking to uphold the biblical ideal of the family.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  45. P.S. The other danger is that the church could also be seen to be accepting of these events. “all that is required for evil to prevail, is for good people to do nothing”. (Edmund Burke)
    Mike Baimbridge

  46. Thanks Bill, the other thing I was thinking was that if I was going into Sexpo looking for opportunities to share the gospel through my stall, rather than be focussed solely on sex, I don’t think that would be something I would be telling the Herald Sun, and if I did, they probably would twist it anyway.
    cheers, Mike Baimbridge

  47. Thanks Elle (Nov 13, 1pm)

    I have now printed your slightly older comment even though you have not yet provided me with a full name as my rules stipulate. But the point you raise – which seems to be in the minds of others here as well – needs to be addressed. You are basically arguing that some good might come out of this, and therefore “the ends justify these means”.

    That is problematic for several reasons. I am not aware of any important Christian thinker who believes that biblical ethics allow for any means to achieve a good end. Both means and ends need to be considered, even intentions. But that is the stuff of a future article perhaps.

    But your point seems to be that some people might benefit from the stall, and that the issue of the evils of sexual slavery might be highlighted. I too happen to think these would also be good outcomes. But again, my concern is the way in which this is being done, and the fact that negative outcomes might also occur.

    That is, what if, on balance, we end up with more harm being done than good because of such an action? My thinking is this: there are many people who will stay away from Sexpo simply because it is viewed as a sleazy and fringe affair. But the more it is portrayed as being mainstream and respectable, the more likely people will lower their guard and end up coming to the event.

    I think that a Salvo booth there will certainly lead many to think this may not be such a bad event after all. They may well think to themselves, “Well if the Salvos are there, then perhaps I can go – it must not be all that bad”. So let’s say that because of the Salvo presence, more people go there than might otherwise have been the case.

    Then the next question is, how many of these people will go down the destructive path of pornography addiction? How many will be further moved along a downward path after attending this thing, believing it is fairly normal and acceptable? How many more men will become porn addicts? How many more marriages will bust up? How many more cases of sexual abuse will take place? How much more general coarsening of the public conscience will ensue?

    Sure, these are all speculative outcomes. But so too are any possible positive outcomes that defenders of the Salvos are banking on. It is all speculative. Some good might come out of this for some people, but some harm might come out of it for other people. How do we weigh all this up? The thinking on all this has now simply become a utilitarian equation, instead of something judged on biblical principle.

    So if the Salvos can guarantee that only – or mostly only – good will come of this, and not evil, then I might be a bit more relaxed about all this. But since such a guarantee of course cannot be made, it seems that both sides are left to speculate as to possible outcomes. And in my mind still, the possible negative outcomes still seem to outweigh any possible positive outcomes.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  48. Thanks again Mike

    Hey, you rascal you! Using one of my favourite quotes against me is sure to provoke a response! I would have thought that to stay away from something which is clearly evil is one way to fight evil. Having a protest outside of it might be another. But lending credibility to it is not in my mind a way of fighting evil, even if well-intentioned.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  49. Thanks a third time Mike

    But I have already mentioned that the HS may not always be counted on to be reliable. But it is not a question of the HS. The SA Captain has said in various places now what her intentions are. Should we not believe her?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  50. We know that the so-called “sex industry” craves respectability. Prostitutes are not prostitutes anymore, they are “sex workers”. Pornography is not pornography, it is “adult entertainment”. We are constantly told by advocates of prostitution that since it’s legal now it must be considered a legitimate service industry.

    The people who run Sexpo are trying to emulate legitimate trade fairs and would have us believe that perversion has now gone mainstream. When church groups take space at such events it sends a message that maybe this kind of event isn’t so bad after all. Ironically, at the same time as the Salvos are highlighting the very real problem of the sexualisation of young girls, they are adding credence and respectability to an event that contributes in a major way to that very same sexualisation of society.

    And then there is the biblical principle for believers to separate ourselves from acts of darkness (Eph. 5:11-12). Obviously this does not mean to never go near a sinner as Paul says in 1 Cor 5:10, but it does mean we shouldn’t participate in sinful activities. Can anyone seriously argue that the individuals who will be manning the Salvo’s stall at Sexpo won’t be exposing themselves to gross sexual perversion? Are they going to blindfold themselves? Some might suggest that this is no different to going into brothels to witness to prostitutes, but the difference is that (I presume) you can walk into the reception area of a brothel and not be confronted with live sexual performances unless you actually pay for the “services”. In this way, you could be a witness without exposing yourself to gross immorality, or are those who are using this analogy to justify the Salvos at Sexpo suggesting those accounts of brothel evangelism involved the evangelist busting into the rooms and confronting the prostitute and client in the act?

    Do those who think the Salvos at Sexpo are justified, also think it would be OK to watch a pornographic movie at the cinema in order to witness to the other movie goers? Or would it be more prudent to witness to these people as they are entering or leaving the premises? I think it’s a no-brainer. At Sexpo, the Salvos could have a presence outside the front door. If they are ridiculed for it instead of “warmly welcomed” as in Brisbane, then they should consider it a blessing as in 1 Pet 4:14. You have to wonder just what kind of an impact the Salvos had on Sexpo in Brisbane for them to be “warmly welcomed”? If they were proclaiming the truth it’s more likely they would have been run out of there!

    Ewan McDonald

  51. It seems Mike that you have swung from one extreme to the other. From once protesting new age festivals to now almost literally jumping into bed with the pornographers! There is a world of difference between a “Mind, Body, Spirt Expo” and these Sexpo events. Most of us would probably commend any Christian group from setting up a stall within a new age festival, since although such festivals may contain a bunch of crazy people with a bunch of crazy worldviews, you would not be confronted with sexual perversion around every corner such as you would be at Sexpo.

    And why are you inferring that to hand out Gospel tracts from outside an event is “subversive” and motivated by “fear and legalism”, whilst to pay a fee and join in with the event is motivated by “love and grace”? Maybe those who prefer the former think that the best way to demonstrate Christian love is not to confirm people in their sin, but to warn of the consequences of sin and to offer grace as a way out.

    I agree the church has “lost the battle over sexualised attitudes” but I absolutely object to your reasoning for this. It’s got nothing to do with treating sexual subjects with the discretion they deserve, and everything to do with the church’s apathetic attitude and failure to be salt and light in our community. And by suggesting that traditional Christian attitudes towards sex should “rightfully” be considered as wowserism, you are simply siding with the smut peddlers (to borrow Bill’s phrase) who make this accusation against Christians all the time.

    Those of us who think the Salvos have crossed a line here, would take great offense to be told that we “look at the people caught up in this [sex] industry as an evil lost cause”. No one on this blog who shares my view of the matter has suggested any such thing. Rather, as I have earlier said, we commend the Salvos for wanting to reach such people but simply differ as to the best way to do so.

    As for your advice that “if you know you have a weakness in this area don’t go”, I don’t think that’s appropriate in this case. Surveys mostly from the USA indicate that much of the church including many pastors already have a huge problem with pornography. Statistics suggest that sexual sin and family breakdown/divorce is as much of a problem in the church as it is in the world. So encouraging the church to be involved in events such as Sexpo will likely worsen this problem. I believe the attitude of most Western Christians towards matters to do with sexuality is already too liberal and if anything, needs to swing back towards a more conservative view. It’s a fact that today’s younger generation of Christians are much more accepting of homosexuality than are their parents. Why is this so? It’s not because the Bible accommodates same-sex relationships, but because homosexuality is becoming normalised and the younger generation of Christians are being influenced more by the world than by the Word.

    Ewan McDonald

  52. From what I can tell, the same errors seem to be popping up repeatedly in this thread.

    I am not convinced of any situation that can be used from Scripture to justify this. With Elijah in 1 Kings 18, there was no doubt (!) whatsoever as to why he was there. He was there to testify to the power and witness of God, not something else, however worthy that may have been. Elijah calling on God for direct intervention stopped the Baal roadshow in its tracks. This situation is clearly quite different.

    Mind, Body & Spirit Expos are not remotely the same, pubs and beer are not the same, saving people drowning is not the same, going into brothels specifically to rescue girls is not the same. Please stop it with this lack of due consideration of examples and scriptural principles. This is a failure to take into account the major aspect of Sexpo’s specific mission to sell the porn industry as being acceptable, not just as a business, but as a moral statement to society. They are a highly visible statement specifically attempting to mainstream distorted and ultimately harmful ideas about sex at odds with a biblical view of it so they can make money.

    Jesus did ‘hang around’ with sinners – but that’s everybody! He also often talked of repenting. Don’t miss the fact he had nothing but good words to say about that other mad Elijah loner, John The Baptist, (who got in very big trouble for… well, you read the story!) He never overlooked sin or attached himself to an institutionalized business form of highly addictive sinful behaviour. I quoted other verses above too. What the Salvos are doing, even with the best of intentions, is lending it their brand name, and hence the Church with it, for acceptability. My housemate told me the Salvos have a 98% brand recognition in Australia. Apparently only McDonalds and Coca-Cola rate higher. Of course Sexpo would love a slice of that.

    And the issue of ‘doing good’ is questionable. There may indeed be a few good stories to come out of this. But unfortunately, as Bill has already stated too, how would you ever quantify the negative outcomes? The area is simply too grey to be acceptable on something where scripture is clear. That’s my main reason for no longer supporting xxxchurch’s methodology. Where scripture is clear, we should also be. Scripture has very clear instructions about sexual behaviour precisely because it is powerful and the consequences for getting it wrong are big. We should not be ignoring those areas, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the consequences being played out in our modern society today. We should not give the porn industry any credibility as a societal norm. I agree with Mike’s contention that we should desire to not just be negative, but promote God’s way, marriage, as strongly and as positively as possible. Sexpo only has cheap counterfeits for sale. Maybe mocking it (a la Elijah!) is also a tactic? Ironically, the Salvos message is primarily negative, but only about something of no consequence to Sexpo’s business model. The fact that the organizers welcome the Salvos – as long as they stick to the script – says plenty.

    Here’s another example, would we set up a stall at a hypothetical pro-‘choice’ exhibition not to bear witness to God but only denounce China’s one child policy or doctors not looking after infants born alive after botched abortions? (I’m not claiming this analogy is that great, but I offer only to perhaps get people to reconsider the basic reason for the exhibition.) Please stop overlooking why Sexpo even exists. They are also ok with ‘traffiking’, effectively.

    And again to Mike, there’s an unspoken assumption in that famous quote – that good people would actually be doing something good! Here’s one right back at you which bears repeating: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ We need to get wiser about this. There are alternatives to what the Salvos are doing here that could be more likely of being a net good for the Kingdom.

    Mark Rabich

  53. Having carefully read all this rather long debate, I believe that the Salvation Army is quite unwise to be at the Sexpo. The amount of good done (like distributing New Testaments) will be more than counterbalanced by the association with a totally vile industry. It is like gaining your chess opponent’s bishop & in the process losing your queen – that’s a dead loss.
    Astute observers, including friends who were Salvation Army officers, have remarked on the gradual spiritual declension of that once virile movement. Take the recent incredible apology by the Salvation Army to the porn industry over their complaint to be villified in the recounting of the conversion of a prostitute. No wonder they are accepted to have a booth in the Sexpo!
    I looked at the advertising for Sexplo on the net, as suggested by Ewan, & I’m sorry I did. If that is a sample of what is on display, Sexplo is NO place for a Christian, dead or alive, Salvation Army or Roman Catholic. There are legitimate ways for a protest to be made against sex slavery, but not within such a den of immorality. (They can brashly preach their immorality, but the Salvationists won’t moralise!)
    “God loves porn stars” on the cover of a New Testament sends the wrong message to the people attending Sexplo. Most will interpret it to mean “God condones porn stars”. Better to tell the truth that God hates & condemns the actions of porn stars, & all sin, or else say nothing. Let God’s word speak for itself within its covers.
    A final point: What did Lot achieve by living within the depraved city of Sodom? He lost his wife, & his daughters commited incest. “Come out from them & be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, & I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
    Spero Katos

  54. Hi Bill,

    I do not think that it is wrong for the Salvation Army to have a stall in this event. If Christ himself went down and preached to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 4:10) I do not think that there are places that are so evil that they should not be entered to proclaim God’s truth.
    As the son of missionaries in the South Pacific who has some knowledge of the history of missionary outreach in these Islands, I wonder how many of the Island cultures would have been reached if missionarys were not willing to go into cultures and areas where open sexual immorality, sexual exploitation, canabalism and worse were practiced. Therefore, I would not oppose a Christian group having a stall there.
    However, I am not happy any Christian group saying that they will not be preaching moral messages. I think that it is dishonest to hide or avoid contentious issues that are inherant in our knowledge or God’s requirements. While we do not need to over emphasise our differences, and should try to start from points of common ground, we still need to openly explain where we differ from other belief systems.
    In reguard to the presence of Christian groups adding legitimacy to these events, I would question how illegitimate these events are percived as in the first place.
    It may be that as a Carpentry apprentice I find my self among many of more libertine oppinions, but few of those I work with have any shame about attending these events.
    Furthermore, I think that it is not valid to claim that as Jesus never entered brothels to preach etc. as the areas in which he ministered were blessed with a freedom from those sorts of institution. What we do know is that he constantly scandalised the religious leaders of his day by going to places that they would not go (e.g. the Decapolis) and assotiating with people that they would not associate with ( tax collectors, prostitutes).

    In conclusion, I support the presence of Christian groups in these events, but think that it should not be at the expence of watering down our message in any way.

    In his love,
    Philip Coombe

  55. Some of the pragmatic comments responding to the Herald article itself are fairly awe-inspiring. Not quite sure what kind of nerve the article’s hit, but it’s definitely hit a social nerve somewhere.
    Leon Brooks

  56. Philip the argument was for the Salvos to be outside not inside or they may be seen to be adding respectability. The issue isn’t to heal the sick or not to heal the sick, but how best to achieve this. William F Buckley learned the hard way writing for Playboy trying to reach its readership:

    “… he only received one letter from an appreciative reader. Considering the amount of mail he got responding to NR pieces which had a far, far smaller circulation, this single reply was positively miniscule. This tiny response from the esteemed readership of Playboy causes Buckley to . . . wonder whether he is simply contributing to the coarsening of the culture by giving General Motors an additional reason to suggest their own advertisements in Playboy are justified because of the ‘thought’ pieces in the publication.”


    Martin Snigg

  57. Thanks Ewan, can I just comment on a couple of things. You are right, I have gone from one extreme to the other over a 15 year period. While there might seem to you to be a world of difference between to 2 expo’s, I don’t believe either will be solely influenced for change from outside, but rather change will need the influence of salt and light permeating the whole industry. As for your comment “And why are you inferring that to hand out Gospel tracts from outside an event is “subversive” and motivated by “fear and legalism”, whilst to pay a fee and join in with the event is motivated by “love and grace”? Maybe those who prefer the former think that the best way to demonstrate Christian love is not to confirm people in their sin, but to warn of the consequences of sin and to offer grace as a way out”. This disturbs me. I model this on the apostle Paul, who didn’t see idolatry as less of an evil than sexual sin as many seem to. He didn’t camp outside Athens praying and handing out tracts, nor did he barge in and tell them what wicked sinners they were. Rather, he commented on their religiousity and then, once in their midst, looked for a point of contact where he could share something of the one true God. These expos are commercial enterprises, and just as you would not like me standing outside your shop handing out my shops sale brochure, we of all people need to respect people who, by and large, don’t know Jesus, and don’t know any better. I find it amazing that we say we can go into the mind, body and spirit expo, but not Sexpo? Greater is He that is in us than is in the world! Is there no one that Christ can empower to resist the evils of porn to speak to those inside? Who will bring change if we don’t be a light unto the world for Jesus. If the Salvo’s are going in totally refusing to share the gospel, (which I doubt) then I do have concerns, but as i know some of the ladies going in there, and I know the heart with which they go, I have no such concerns. (and I am not a Salvo) I agree with you that there is a huge porn problem amongst Christian men, along with a miriad of other problems facing the church. The porn is not the problem as much as the state of marriage and lifestyle choices Christian men and women make is making porn attractive. There is a similar problem of a lack commitment to God and His church, bible reading, prayer, and a raft of things that we ought to be practicing and known for. You also misrepresented me when you claim that I said that those holding to traditional Christian views about sex are wowsers. What I said was “our actions often rightfully paint us as wowsers”.
    It is totally appropriate that people who don’t have weakness in this area go in. A Christian father who’s daughter falls of the rails and gets into this lifestyle with its veneer of a glamour career, would most likely not find any of it a temptation, but rather would feel pity. The pastor of XXX Church spoke on lightFM and spoke of the burden he has for the women and men that are blindly going in, then being trapped with high expenses and lifestyles, drugs and alcohol, and then the shame of their depraved behaviour, too much shame to go home, but stuck with shallow relationships with people who want you only to make them money. That ain’t so sexy Ewan.
    Blessings, Mike Baimbridge

  58. Hi Bill, haven’t read through all the comments, but picked up on one thing in your article:

    “My concern is this. Simply by being there, the Salvos – whether wittingly or not – will be doing one very important favour for the sleaze industry: they will be giving them further legitimacy and acceptability. ”

    I don’t think they are lending credibility. Maybe *they* (sexpo) think they are, but they aren’t. They are not giving credibility to sexpo any more than drugarm are giving credibility to drug users. I don’t think anybody is thinking “oh the church is at sexpo, they must be ok with porn then.” People involved in the sex industry *really* need help, this is obviously what the salvos are keen on tapping into.

    On another note, have you heard Craig Gross from xxx church speak? He has been in Australia a couple of times now. I suggest you go and see him next time he is here and discuss these issues with him. I found him to be very sincere and genuine with a compelling case for doing this type of ministry.

    Kelly Williams

  59. Thanks Mike

    A few of your comments continue to have me worried:
    “The porn is not the problem as much as…”
    “It is totally appropriate that people who don’t have weakness in this area go in.”

    Both seem to reveal a rather glaring naivety about the massively destructive, deceptive and addictive nature of porn. Marriage counsellors inform me that 85 per cent of divorces can be traced back to the use of porn. Porn is poison, and it corrupts everything it touches.

    And who says it is totally appropriate to go into these areas? Who do you know that is not immune from the effect of porn, or has no weakness in that area, certainly among men? I sense a bit of a glib and cavalier attitude to this overwhelmingly destructive and corrosive area. It has no redeeming features, and to think we can trifle with it is to play with fire.

    In an only slightly different situation, we are told to ‘flee fornication’ (1 Cor. 6:18). It is so volatile and dangerous, we are not to hang around it, trifle with it, or pretend we are somehow not going to be affected by it. We are to simply flee – wise and godly advice.

    Joseph was a deeply godly man, who you might say didn’t “have weakness in this area”. But when he was faced with sexual temptation, he did not stay around to be a witness, to win Potiphar’s wife, or to be salt and light. He did one thing and one thing only – he fled. If godly and saintly Joseph had to do this, just who do you think does not have to do this?

    Again, a passage I quoted way back in the article: “It is shameful to even speak of those things which are done in darkness”. You seem to not only want to speak about it, but to dive right into it all as if it has no power and danger whatsoever. Perhaps you are more of a supersaint than I am, but I would prefer to follow the biblical injunctions here, and simply flee.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  60. Thanks Kelly

    While I may not be able to prove that by being there, the Salvos will give credibility to the sleaze industry; neither can you prove that they will not. Thus if we are simply not certain here, I would much rather err on the side of caution. It is still possible that net harm may occur here, as I argue in some of my comments.

    And I am not sure how the existence and ministry of a group like DrugArm is in any way analogous to the Salvos being in Sexpo.

    You say, “People involved in the sex industry *really* need help”. Absolutely. No one is disputing that. But the issue here is, what is the best way to help them? Is this the best and wisest way to help them?

    One can equally say that ‘People involved in paedophilia or child abuse *really* need help’. Does that mean we should have a booth in a place which is dedicated and devoted to the promotion of paedophilia or child abuse? I am not so sure.

    And no, I have not heard Craig Gross. I am sure that he may well be sincere. But of course it is always possible that one can be sincerely wrong.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  61. Hi Bill,

    This is an interesting discussion.

    Do you not think we should err on the side of helping porn stars exit the porn industry (which is the goal for example, of xxx church) or connecting with people who are going to sexpo to “improve their marriage” and instead pointing them in a different direction? If the salvos achieve this, do we really care what others might think of it, how much credibility they might think they have?

    There are often unintended consequences for doing good things. Complaints about sexist advertising serve to increase exposure for those advertisements and therefore increase profits for that company. I personally won’t let that silence me on this particular issue.

    I believe it is completely analogous my example of drugarm. Drugarm is a christian org who make themselves available to anyone impacted by drugs, including drug users. We phoned them a while back about a family member who was using drugs. I didn’t find out they were a christian org until after this phone call as they didn’t evangelise, they were available for info and counselling, just like the salvos plan to be. I don’t believe that this availability on the phone, or on the streets gives credibility to drug users or dealers.

    Just to clarify, so I understand, what do you mean by credibility? are you concerned that the managers and participants of sexpo will feel good about themselves and their position? Or do you think the general public will feel as though porn is an acceptable thing now?

    I just can’t see it happening. The salvos don’t go to retail trade fairs because nobody needs help out of retail. They don’t go to home improvement trade shows because people don’t need help for that. To me, the fact that the salvos are there tells us that people need help and reminds us that something is wrong with Sexpo.

    Re: paedophilia – I think Sexpo already does promote this, but that is another debate. The Salvos aren’t there to promote porn, but to promote an alternative. The christians who got alongside Dennis Fergusson as both a friend and protector for him – and to keep an eye on him – were not promoting child abuse, though the christians were often accused of being soft on child abuse because of this.

    Bill, I would really like your thoughts on xxxchurch.

    http://www.xxxchurch.com I think it would also be worthwhile for you to make contact with Craig Gross to discuss these things, even if you don’t end up agreeing with what they do, it would help you in forming your opinion. I’m pretty sure this is what the salvos are basing their ministry on.

    Kelly Williams

  62. Thanks Kelly

    But respectfully, you continue to somewhat confuse issues here. No one is saying we should not help porn stars get out of the industry. The question here is whether the Salvoes are being wise – and biblical – in their particular approach at Sexpo. And again, recall what the Captain keeps repeating – ‘we are not going to condemn, judge, evangelise, preach, etc.’ If that is true, it would seem there would not be much opportunity or motivation for anyone in the sex industry to want to change.

    But we are starting to cover old ground here. You admitted to not reading all the comments, so much of my response has already been given elsewhere on this thread, including my contention that it is possible that on the whole, more harm may come out of this than good. (See my reply to Elle for example.)

    As to ‘credibility,’ if you read all my remarks here you will pick up what I mean. The porn industry craves acceptability and wants to be seen as just any other normal business. People have an adverse reaction to, and will stay away from, that which is considered to be quite fringe, quite wrong, and quite unacceptable. But the porn industry wants to convince the rest of society that it is none of these things. Having a Salvo stand there may simply add to this PR job on the part of the porn industry.

    It may help make porn to be seen as more acceptable, normal and mainstream, and it therefore may drag many more people into its deadly grasp. Those are the sorts of overall negative consequences which I am worried about, and which some defenders of the Salvo stall seem to be quite cavalier or uninterested about.

    And perhaps one other quick reply. If someone from DrugArm is helping an individual get off of drugs, say in his own home, again, there is nothing analogous to the Salvos being at Sexpo. What would be analogous would be the Salvos helping a sex worker get out of that lifestyle, perhaps at their own home. I am not sure of DrugArm workers going into anything analogous to Sexpo.

    But you are quite right, the whole discussion has certainly been interesting, to say the least! And if it helps us all to think things through more carefully and biblically then it may be a worthwhile discussion.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  63. The Salvos have been strong on charity throughout their history. However I am sure that many in this generation do not see them as a Christian denomination. For example, this project is distancing itself from the Gospel of Jesus.
    Stan Fishley

  64. I agree Stan. Today in many ways the Salvos more resemble a secular welfare organisation than they do a church.

    Ewan McDonald.

  65. Hi Everyone,
    I am a spirit filled, God fearing Salvo and was serving at our stall today at Sexpo, and I just wanted to let you know that it was amazing.

    We became a refugee for those who felt overwhelmed by the saturation of sex. We were a safe place for people to talk and learn more about the horror of Human Tafficking.

    All of our encounters were positive, God is truley there with us as we shared some great prayer time and conversations with people.

    No one at the show thinks that we are there to give our support to the industry, and we certainty did not waste any of our precious funds on the stall.

    We are there to love people and be a shining light in a dark place.

    I thank everyone for their support and prayers while we fight.

    Perri Winter

  66. Thanks Perri

    I was part of a small group of prayer warriors who prayed against Sexpo today, and prayed for the Salvos there. While I still question the wisdom of the Salvo presence there, especially in terms of giving the smut industry far more credibility, I will keep praying.

    As to those who were there “who felt overwhelmed by the saturation of sex,” one has to ask the obvious question: what the heck were they doing there in the first place? Just what did they expect?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  67. As a young street evangelist, and one who has seen first-hand many compromises within the churches on an increasing level – lets keep the issue where it’s most avoided – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Rather than discussing the ethics of whether or not the Salvo’s should have run a booth at the Sexpo, lets deal honestly here – the Salvo’s don’t preach the Gospel plain and simple, period, full stop. The fire of old William Booth for the lost, and the naming of the organization ‘Salvation Army’ doesn’t do them much credit today with their man-centered social gospel. The Salvo’s have entered into the same affair as most other large denominations – they’ve left the old message of the Cross, and they’ve replaced it with ‘moralism’.

    So I’d say right up that if the Salvo’s set up a booth at this event – the chances of them mentioning anything real about the heart of the cross (propitiation) or the need for people to repent from sin and trust in Christ is very slim. The one thing satan hates is the Gospel, he wouldn’t mind if we run ‘Jesus’ booths until the Lord returns – he wants us to keep busy handing out all the ‘Christian’ literature in the world, and he has no problem with morality issues like he has a problem with the Gospel. And that’s where Booth had it right on the money – the Gospel is issue, and we are in a ‘Salvation Army’ for souls who are going to hell, and need Christ’s cross.

    Secondly, the issue is not merely the Gospel – but why would people get so excited over running a booth? I worked on a booth last year for the Royal Adelaide show. The booth cost serious amounts of money, which was generously donated by church groups, but the stand was full of nonsense tracts & all the Christian volunteers did was hand out stickers with animals on them – not the Gospel! ‘Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel’ (1 Cor 9:16). Paul was ‘separated unto the Gospel’ (Rom 1:1), it is our debt (Rom 1:14), we need to be ready to preach it (Rom 1:15) and ought to be un-ashamed in this politically correct, apostate age (Rom 1:16). The great shame of the church is that we pride ourselves in our programs and events, that cost the Church all it’s money – and yet for three full years, week in and week out, I’ve declared the Gospel plainly and simply, handed out thousands of tracts and it cost me hardly a cent. The Church must discover the street meetings again – it must go door to door, it must go back to the open air sermons – or our nation is sunk. Some little booth doesn’t do much, and any booth that really hit the nail on the head would be censored by authorities immediately. That’s the just the way it is. I’ve already been arrested thrice for the Gospel on Adelaide’s streets, so have my friends – I say again, let us return to the old message, and we shall see the old power!

    Was it right to hold a booth in the Sexpo? I’m inclined to say no. Primarily because it’s a sissy form of evangelism that costs too much and accomplishes little (despite it’s press), but secondarily, I say no to it, because the amount of strip clubs & brothels that need picketing and tracting are many. I’ve stood outside the Crazy Horse strib club in Hindley St Adelaide and handed tracts to stacks of men going in and out. Didn’t cost me a cent. Plus, it’s very confronting. And you’d be AMAZED to see how many professing ‘Christians’ go in there!!! Ours is the age of desperate need for the Gospel – lets dump our programs & costly evangelism – and do it book of Acts style!

    Servant in the Gospel,
    Forbes Morrison

  68. Just a passing comment on something that was said.

    The end can never justify the means.

    For example, you cannot lie to some one even if you think that by doing so, it will lead them to the Gospel.

    Roger Newton

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