Chris Lenty brings light to one of the world’s darkest and growing issues – human sex trafficking. Lenty is soft spoken with a wispy smile that invites people to talk. He’s just a regular, unassuming type of guy who could be your next-door neighbor. Except, he can’t.
Lenty lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and holds down a highly unconventional job. Every week, he or his associates foray into one of the world’s largest red light districts to stop trafficking at its source. He directs MST Project (Men and the Sex Trade) and works with men through one-on-one mentoring and quarterly events called Real Men Pursuing Purity.
Lenty stopped in at First Free Church last month to share his work at First Free’s Human Trafficking Conference. According to Lenty, both culture and men’s attempt to cope are at least two of the underlying issues that support the pornography and sex trade industry.
“Our world is overtly sexualized. We live in a culture that objectifies the use of women and celebrates the perverted vision of sex,” said Lenty, “from TV reality shows and magazines to Snapchat.”
He believes this causes an unhealthy view of relationships and a breakdown of family and society. Yet, to some, Lenty’s methods may break with current thinking. He views both men and women as victims.
“I believe in law,” he said, “and if someone breaks the law, they should suffer the consequences.”
But he also notes that society has been conditioned to think that one is a victim and the other a victimizer.
“Both were created by God and both need to experience his redemption,” he said.
From there comes his emphasis on biblical counseling for men. Although Lenty works mainly in Thailand, the principles of his work are trans-international. Porn becomes a coping mechanism when life is out of control, he said. But it acts more like a drug, always requiring another level of shock.
Some states like Utah have arrived at similar conclusions. Last month, Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation making pornography a public health hazard. At the same time, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that combats Internet crimes against children and creates stronger penalties for traffickers.
Yet, there are those who flatly deny the negative effects of pornography. They especially reject the notion of pornography addiction on the basis it has not been acknowledged by the American Psychiatric Association, allegedly due to lack of evidence.
But that doesn’t bother Lenty.
“I respect other people’s opinions,” he said. “All I share is truth.”