The beginning of our escapade was a few behaved bars and voodoo shops. My nose caught the unfortunate scent of urine and poor sanitation. We continued walking down the street, and as we did, we encountered masses of people. In the middle of the street were street preachers yelling about fornication and sin. Lining the sides were bouncers shouting about topless dancers, lap dances, and strippers of both genders. Women were leaning in doorways, dressed so sparsely that they made bikinis seem like turtlenecks. The guy strippers were dressed in speedo-type outfits (can you even call those outfits?) and called out offerings of a good time. The appropriate response would have probably been to go home and wash my eyes out with holy water, but I just turned away from the scandalizing scenes and kept my head down until reaching a more tame part of the area.
I saw those people, more naked than dressed, and I saw so much of myself. (Wait. What?! Why are you writing an article about modesty when you see yourself in a stripper? Let me explain.)
What I mean to say is that I saw so much of my former self. Though, no, I have never stood on a street half-naked waiting to seduce passersby, I had my fair share of attempting to do so behind closed doors. I had been influenced to heavily value my body and outer appearance, and when the first boy who told me that I was attractive rolled around, I snatched him right up. Due to a bowl haircut and a chubby phase, I had never truly felt pretty. He told me I was beautiful and that my body was beautiful too. I soon got addicted to the affirmation. Our relationship was completely physical. The more we’d do, the more he praised me, and I learned how to play the system. When we eventually ended (yeah, you probably saw that coming…) I just found a new boy to give me praise. It got so bad that at one point someone told me I’d be “a really good porn star,” and I felt like I had reached the top tier of perfection.
Alright, enough blast from the past there. Needless to say, I eventually came to the realization that those guys never cared about ME. They cared about themselves, the desires I could fill, and the fleeting happiness I could supply. They didn’t know I loved psychology, that I wrote subpar poetry; didn’t know about what made me happy or what made upset, or that I was just an insecure girl inside. It was a long, uphill journey from there, weeding out those who only saw me as a body and not as a complete human person. I read a quote the other day from an anti-porn blog, saying, “If we could see people instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.” I can almost guarantee none of those guys would have dealt with me in an intellectual conversation about biblical teaching or would have called me at three in the morning when I’m panicking about all life’s unknowns. I am starting to learn that to love a person is to love their inmost being, as it reflects who they really are. More importantly, I’m starting to realize that love is not about what another can do for me, but what I can do for them.
Ladies, please realize that your body is a vessel carrying your soul. You are a body and soul composite. Guys, even though it’s difficult, look past what you see. It will save you tons of shame, suffering, and your dignity. Also, and this goes for everyone, God created you in Him very own image, so you can’t get more beautiful or valuable.
After I left the club-lined blocks, I realized that I had made a mistake in only focusing on the outer nature of these “adult entertainers.” They each have specific stories, addictions, desires, talents, insecurities, and hurts. Mostly, just like you and I, they were in need of so much love. God always looks at us through our sin and humanity to see us as completely priceless, body AND soul. We must reflect that love, and honor our neighbor in the proper way.
Flash back to Bourbon Street. Only this time, I do not turn away in fear. I go up to these men and women, these beautiful people of God (people, not bodies), look them in the eye, and tell them, “You are so much more than your body.” I wonder if anyone has ever told them that. Who knows how different prostitutes’ and strippers’ lives might be if they understood their true worth.
I pray that everyone may be set free from the confused idea that we are only biological beings. And I pray that this world comes to the understanding that though we reside on the earth, we are not of the earth. If we learn that, maybe by the next time I make it to the French Quarter of Louisiana, I will see churches on the ground of former strip joints. I will see priests as former bouncers. I will see God glorified where He was formerly unknown.