My wife and I had the privilege of living and serving in South America for 10 years (8 years in Argentina and 2 years in Peru). There were many things we witnessed and experienced, so the thoughts throughout this article do not come from governmental statistics but from personal life.
Growing up in the Midwest, some form of pornography was available whether it was from a magazine at my friend’s tree house, stories or language in the locker room, an occasional movie my friend got his hands on or rummaging through magazines at the drugstore. Although there was availability, most every form was taboo in society, something you did in secret or with buddies but definitely not with parents or other adults present. In no way would I say the US is at a high spiritual status, but there is somewhat of a morale still in the country in which much of the larger scales of perversion are done in secret and not openly.
When I arrived to South America, I noticed that the sensual edge of life was much more open, common and accessible than when I was growing up in USA. Local news stands offered porn magazines in the open instead of behind a counter or with a paper covering nudity up until the purchase. Newspapers had sections in the back with very provocative pictures and contact information for sexual services. TV talk-show hosts spoke openly about sex or being bi-sexual and hosted barely-clad women. The common soap operas had straight out sex on public TV. Advertisements with nude or almost nude women were distributed on the street or placed on vehicles.
A mom at one of our churches in Argentina told us about one of the classes her 11 year-old girl participated in at school. The teacher had all the girls open a condemn and place it on the stuck-out finger of a boy in the class. The goal was to show the kids how to use a condemn and protect themselves as they prepared for being sexually active. I could continue giving examples, but the point should be proven that the sexual culture in Latin America was flaring.
It was far too common to see a girl already expecing a baby as young as 12 years of age or my wife counseling a young girl who had repeatedly been sexually abused by uncles, dads, cousins, brothers or friends of the family. Lovers were common, young girls were abused and women were toys and objects offered openly and freely. Although these situations angered me, what could I really expect since they were only reacting to the food society had been feeding them?
Sexual culture in Latin America is alive and well but just knowing the sexual culture of Latin America is not helpful without advice on how to be cautious if you are working in Latin America. I would like to offer two suggestions to my missionary friends on how to avoid falling into the devil’s sensual traps while working in Latin America.
First of all, stay close to God. Sounds cliché, simple and almost so understood that we don’t need to mention it. According to the wise king Solomon, the person who is abhorred of the Lord is going to fall in a deep sexual pit (Proverbs 22:14) but the person who pleases and loves the Lord is going to escape from that sexual pit (Ecclesiastes 7:26). The common denominator of falling or escaping from the sexual sin is the Lord. Love the Lord, stay close to the Lord and live for the Lord will cause you to escape from this sexual pit, but ignore and don’t listen to the Lord will cause you to fall into this sexual trap that, according to Solomon, is “more bitter than death”.
Sexual sins are open and available for everyone (especially and specifically in Latin America), and it takes more than just a strong or good person to avoid the temptations. I don’t need to remind you that mighty, wise, good, God-fearing men have fallen prey to the sexual temptations. And lest we think we are too good to fall, I remind you of what the apostle Paul said, “take heed lest ye fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Any man, working in his own strength and power can fall, but God offers His supernatural assistance to help us win the sexual battle. We can talk about meditating on His Word, memorizing His Word, crying out to Him in prayer and other very important steps, but the point is to realize that drawing close to God is the answer to avoid the temptations, traps and pits of sexual sins. Make time every day to communicate with Him through prayer and reading Scriptures and live conscientiously walking and pleading His help. The key of escape from sexual sins is knowing that God is where you should look for strength!
The second way to avoid sexual sins is to stay close to your spouse. Proverbs 5 says that a man is to rejoice with the wife of his youth (vs.18), to get all of his sexual satisfaction from and only from his wife, being “ravished (enraptured, enchanted, delighted, charmed, enthralled, captivated, entranced) always with her love” (vs.19). God made man to want and enjoy sex, God designed sex, but sex was made for the perimeters of marriage (Hebrews 13:4).
The devil is the greatest con artist, imitating all the marvelous things God has made but offering only a shell of beauty filled with poison. The missionary who serves in Latin America will see and be offered a large portion of sensual pleasure, but the offers are mere mirages in the dry desert of sin. The missionary should be sexually fulfilled through his wife; this is God’s divine method. A missionary should constantly work at growing in his marriage by reading books on marriage, making time for dates and always studying his wife. A thriving, healthy marriage is one of the greatest defenses a missionary has to avoid falling into the pit of sexual sins.
The sexual culture is wide-awake and going strong in Latin America and the devil would love to destroy as many servants of God as he can. If we put on the whole armour of God that He has given us, stay in love with God and in love with our spouse, we can avoid being another casualty in this war.