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I Heart Sex Workers: A Christian Response to People in the Sex Trade Paperback – March 15, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lia Claire Scholl is an ordained Baptist minister committed to social justice and inclusivity. Originally from Alabama, she earned her M.Div. from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and pastors the Richmond Mennonite Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Chalice Press (March 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827216629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827216624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A Christian book titled I HEART SEX WORKERS? Really? Yes, and if you think it's impossible for any good and decent Christian to love those who trade in sex, think again. Author Lia Scholl is a pastor who advocates for the rights of sex workers, and she's not alone in her efforts to create an effective Christian response to sex work and fight what she sees as injustice in that work.

A few things you need to know about this book right away. It's not about sex trafficking or slavery, and it's not about victimization. It's not even about feminism or the "powerless" women who are taken advantage of by "powerful" pimps and johns. In fact, it would be a good idea to empty yourself of any notion you may have about the sex trade and how you think this book may approach the subject.

It's very likely that Scholl will demolish those notions anyway. She successfully pulls back the curtain and shows that the reality of sex work bears little to no resemblance to the illusion most people, especially Christians, have about it. Scholl examines the many factors --- some expected, some unexpected, some surprising --- that lead women into prostitution as well as the reasons why they stay. She also offers a thoughtful, and again surprising, analysis of why legalization will ultimately hurt sex workers while decriminalization may help many of them to make the decision to leave the lifestyle. The issues she discusses are the kinds of things that most people would never associate with sex work, and she occasionally writes about them in such detail that those who are squeamish about sex talk may consider a few sections to be uncomfortable to read.

Scholl's discussion of "harm reduction," which she describes as minimizing the harmful effects of (in this case) sex work, is brilliant.
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Scholl begins with the crazy idea that sex workers are people, with agency, who don't need to be judged as much as they need to be listened to; saved as much as they need to be offered options and support. She describes from her experience as a sex worker advocate and a minister ways of engaging that do not otherize, shut-down, and push-away those who trade sex. Her methods aren't a mere pretext for evangelism. We have to earn trust by being trust-worthy, not merely by learning to say the right things so we can get past a sex worker's defenses hoping to convert them.

Scholl doesn't let sanctimonious moralism get in her way from any direction. She points out a variety of reasons why sex work might be the best choice for certain people, but she also points out the real harm that can come from engaging in sex work. Her concern is increasing the agency and minimizing the harm for every individual she works with. In some cases that might mean leaving sex work entirely, but in others it might mean just increasing the frequency of condom use, or helping an individual slowly take control of their drug usage. The book steers resolutely away from big-picture solutions toward direct harm-reduction in each circumstance.

This might all sound very pragmatic. If you're inclined to view that positively you'll say she's a realist. If you're inclined to see that as a negative you'll say she compromises her values, but I think you'd be wrong in both cases. The thread running through her book, exposed by her title, is that she deeply cares, emotionally and theologically. She is not merely being strategic, she is being Christlike - and I mean that in the most literal sense. In this work, she is like Christ.

One of the most useful aspects of this book is its straightforward simplicity.
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In a world where Christian ministries are generally designed to evangelize via service and/or care, the agenda-less focus of Lia Scholl's "I Heart Sex Workers" is both refreshingly unbias, truly practical, and deeply honest when it comes to those working within the sex industry and those who serve them. Loaded with paradigm shifting ideas for many who may come from mainstream Christianity, Lia highlights how being committed to knowing, understanding, caring for, respecting, and supporting the sex worker community on it's own terms will be the best way to offer agency and support. As someone who works with those within the sex worker community, it's now on our must-read list for anyone who decides they want to come on board with us. For some, these concepts will no-brainers, but considering this book is one that is aimed at a community where so much condemnation and judgement has originated, I feel it's a book that's long overdue and communicates simply, but powerfully, how the church has missed so much for so long. Kudos to Lia ... I'm waiting for PartII ;)
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I <3 Sex Workers is an important book for any community to begin an understanding of the marginalizations and abuses of the sex workers. Lia Claire Scholl, in my expert opinion, tells the truth about this population in which no one else seems able to. I am proud to have passed on this book to other professionals in the community.

Please read this book!

Ms. Billie McIntire, M.A.
Sex Work Alliance and Network(ing) (SWAN) Colorado
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