A while ago I wrote about the condemnation of others for not fitting with our reading of certain doctrines or for not fitting with our assumed lifestyles. Certainly the gathering, the developing christian community that I am part of, strongly believes how we live our faith is far more important than what we believe. You can fairly easily believe ‘God is love’ and ‘Jesus is the only way’ but if you treat people that disagree with you with contempt and ridicule or refuse to even talk to them, then I would say something of the gospel ‘good news of acceptance and love’ has been lost.
A few months ago I found myself in a coffee shop talking to a young woman who was passing through Rochester. This woman is a Christian although she has not been able to settle in an established church set up. This has a lot to do with the fact that this Christian woman also happens to be a lap dancer. Churches that she has tried to join have condemned her because of her job and way of life. When she first became a Christian she gave up her job, because others in the church told her it was wrong, and tried to get other jobs. People told her that God would provide other things to make money for her and her young daughter, but as she tried living in the way others suggested, church after church offered little support and eventually other work was provided …. in another lap dancing club.
The way she spoke of God showed me that without a doubt this woman has a thriving relationship with the living God. She was clearly in love with the God who created her and spoke of Jesus in a way that I have not heard anyone talk in a long while. I felt that her trust in Jesus was incredibly strong. This young woman understood God’s grace, she understood she was loved and she longed for a christian community to accept her fully. I don’t know where she is today but I fear she is alone and living her Christian life outside of Christian community.
I was reminded of this woman during the summer when I read a report in the Independent newspaper on lap dancing outlining research that showed 40% of lap dancers in the UK have a uni degree or are studying for one. I personally thought the article was glamourising or missing the real issue and I must admit I am of a similar mind to Amy Jenkins who responds in the opinion section of the newspaper that irrespective of education lap dancing is degrading. I believe that to be the case but ….
Something about this woman struck me. This was not her job of choice but I sensed that she felt this was where God wanted her. I plucked up the courage to ask the burning question …’ok, you are a lap dancer and a Christian …. how do you reconcile the two?’ Her answer still brings tears to my eyes:
‘all the girls think of something when they dance. I pray on stage and I dance for Jesus. This is my worship, he created my body … I use my body to worship him.’
Some will have issues with that, some will say it is not morally possible, and a large part of me might go along with that, but what is a Christian other than someone who totally loves God and wants their life to be worship of Christ? Whatever way I recall this encounter in the coffee shop I remember the girls faith and commitment as she said ‘I dance for Jesus’.
Sometimes I just don’t know what to think ….