Sex-Trafficking, Evangelical “Colonialism”, and the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Sex-Trafficking-1024x692In preparing to teach my students about Jesus’ hard saying about the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (Mark 3:29) this week, I couldn’t help but make the connection to the recent, bizarre criticism of Evangelical efforts to end the sex-trafficking trade. What’s the charge? Well, apparently taking women and children out of the pay-for-rape game smacks of Evangelical colonialism to some. According to Yvonne Zimmerman, a professor of Christian Ethics, instead of focusing on trafficking in all of its forms, Evangelicals seem to narrow their concern to sex-trafficking, likely because of their “Protestant” theology of sex and vision of the “sexually pure and pious” woman. (Read “evil, Victorian sexual mores that Freud opened our eyes to, and Foucalt exposed as forms of social control.”) If they weren’t so obsessed with restricting sex to their particular norm, they wouldn’t be so focused on the prostitution-trade. What they seem to be overlooking is that some of these women might actually want to stay in prostitution and so the imposition of our values is, at the very least, problematic. They are assuming an idea of freedom and inadvertently limiting the freedom some of these women would choose for themselves.


You can read the rest of my guest piece over at the Christ and Pop Culture Blog at

Soli Deo Gloria

7 thoughts on “Sex-Trafficking, Evangelical “Colonialism”, and the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

  1. D, yours was a good response to Zimmerman as was John Mark Reynolds.

    I was a little stunned when I saw what she was saying. It seems that in academia, just about anything that can be said will be. It also seems there will someone identifying as Christian who will say it.

    It also calls to mind the Lord’s command to watch out for every word…

      • AWESOME (did I mention awesome?). Derek, once again you compose a respect, factual response to pure silliness and false thinking provided by those who should know better. If Ms. Zimmerman’s conviction is truly what she teaches, academia is seriously in peril.

  2. (Boy, did that come out wrong! Glad I checked back for further comments!) Sorry about that…what was deleted was “if Ms. Zimmerman’s conviction is truly what she teaches, then academia is seriously in peril”…of being forced to redefine colonialism in a way that allows differential discussion in context with contemporary research.

  3. Might I humbly suggest that all of you who have decided to be hyper-critical of Dr. Zimmerman’s on this site and other sites actually take the time to read her book. I have. A remarkable amount of research has gone into it and her analysis, both political and theological, is quite brilliant. That it will make a certain set of Evangelical Christians uncomfortable, I have no doubt.
    — Prof. Claude d’Estrée, MTS, JD – Director, Human Rights Degree Program & Director, Human Trafficking Clinic, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

    • Prof. d’Estree,

      Thank you for your gracious comment. I might just do that. As I said, I’m sure much of what she’s written in terms of expanding the focus to labor-trafficking is quite good. What I’ve written was in response to the interview comments and the overall drift of the argument in terms of sex-trafficking. I’m open to being proven mistaken, however.

      Thanks again for stopping by.


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