No matter what background we come from, what nationality, social status, religion, age, or gender, we are all seeking something in common. I see it in the 60 year old man that wraps his arm around his 20-something Thai girlfriend on the skytrain. I see it not more than a few feet away from them in the young man with his transgender girlfriend. I also see it in the eyes of the two teenage girls who are blatantly showing their attraction to one another as they walk through the department store. All of these couples are seeking acceptance and love. You and I are seeking it. It’s natural. We all want to be acknowledged, admired, cared about, and pursued. This is a desire God has placed within us.
Here in Bangkok, the search for love unfortunately often leads to the damage of another person’s life. We may be shocked at seeing men from our own country and elsewhere wander into the red-light districts of Bangkok and lustfully pursue the young women working in the bars and clubs. But is it really that shocking that men who have been rejected, ignored, and hurt in their country would be seeking love elsewhere? Does it really shock us that they’ve been drawn to a place where effort is no longer required, because a few dollars will buy literally whatever you want?
Loneliness is one of the biggest dangers of humanity. To feel isolated, cut off, or misunderstood makes us prime targets for temptation. It can make us do things that we would not have considered if our emotional needs were being met. The lack of love makes us afraid. It causes fear that we are not lovable, that we will never find acceptance, leading to a gradual decision to seek love (or at least the illusion of love) somewhere. Anywhere.
I think this is what has happened to many of the men who swarm the red-light districts each night. For a few hours, their pain is lessened through the illusion of love. For just awhile, they are able to forget how alone they really are. But what they don’t see, or don’t wish to see, are the grim consequences this has on the women (and men) they rely on to meet these needs. The bondage of loneliness they carry within themselves is keeping others in bondage.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Some people really don’t have anyone to help them up. Can you imagine what that feels like? Or perhaps you have been in that position yourself and don’t have to imagine. It can’t be what God intended. Jesus emphasized fellowship and community. He emphasized going out into the world and being the Kingdom, not sitting in church. He reached out to the lonely and brought healing just through His presence. How can we do this in our communities? We cannot expect that the lonely and seeking will come into our places of worship. Chances are, they don’t know where to go and wouldn’t feel comfortable in that setting anyhow. It’s up to us to seek them out, as Jesus did.