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Topless dancers picket a church: 3 thoughts

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Jesus Said Love volunteers pose for a photo with care packages for dancers outside a San Antonio night club (Credit: Jesus Said Love via Instagram)

In the 14 years I’ve been writing the Cultural Commentary, I’ve never seen a story like this one: strippers and church members are picketing each other.

New Beginnings Ministries in Warsaw, Ohio has been campaigning against the Foxhole North gentleman’s club for nearly a decade, picketing on weekends and taking photos of guests’ license plates.  According to the pastor, “I take very seriously the responsibility as a pastor to see to it that the gospel of Christ is lifted up, that Christ himself is lifted up, and that evil is confronted.”

Now the club has fought back.  Recently some of its dancers paraded topless outside the church during worship services.  The club owner vows to return every Sunday until the church stops its protests.  Since it’s legal for both men and women to be topless in public in Ohio, the demonstrators were not arrested.

Picketing is one response to a strip club.  Here’s another.

Jesus Said Love is a ministry focused on women in the commercial sex industry.  Its method is to GO, visiting strip clubs and bringing high quality gift bags to dancers and club employees; to LOVE, building intentional relationships with those at the clubs; and to CONNECT, helping people find meaningful community and spiritual resources.

According to Jesus Said Love, roughly 80 percent of exotic dancers are mothers.  Many are the victims of sex trafficking, victims of abuse, and/or need physical and emotional health care.  The ministry exists “to not only meet their spiritual needs, but to provide them with basic resources as well.  Doctors, lawyers, counselors and accountants all volunteer through Jesus Said Love to help these women establish a well-balanced life.”

There are times when Christians are called to take a public stand against sin, whatever the cost.  Jesus didn’t try to build relationships with moneychangers in the temple—he overturned their tables and drove them from his Father’s house (Matthew 21:12-17).  And there are times when working quietly and personally is the best way to deal with the human heart.  Jesus didn’t call Nicodemus out by day—he met with him privately at night (John 3:1-15).

In taking Christ to our fallen culture, how can you know what to do and when to do it?

First: be willing to obey whatever God asks you to do.  Sign the blank check before he fills in the amount.  If he requires a public stand, be willing to pay the price.  If he leads you more relationally, agree to follow his Spirit.

Second: whatever you do, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Be redemptive in your words and actions.  What matters is not whether you win a debate but whether you help someone find Jesus.  They will not believe God loves them until you do.

Third: measure success by obedience.  As Jesus Said Love puts it, “if we GO, LOVE and CONNECT, then we succeed.”