written by Joshua Coffman
It was dark outside. The nipping cold exaggerated the clouds of exhaust that rose from the waiting cabs parked outside of the building. Walking up to the front door, I could hear the heavy bass pounding through the building.
The heavy door was posted with a reminder of the age restrictions and a warning to leave all weapons off the premise. Alaska law forbids bars from allowing customers that have weapons with clips from being on the premises. And the Alaska Bush Company definitely was a bar.
Through the door, you could immediately take in the full offering of the strip club. Before you even showed your ID to the bouncer, stage dancers and private dances could be seen from the entry way. I wasn’t dressed crudely so the bouncer seemed little interested in my ID and I walked right in to find a seat far enough back not to elicit too many expectations from the entertainers.
I’d been here before.
Sitting in the bench near the bar, I could feel the beat of the music pulse through my body. I was here to burn. My wedding ring on as a sign of revenge, but a controlled vengeance. There was something about seeing women without inhibition that reminded me of my own lack of inhibitions and I enjoyed feeling the searing pain of being self destructive.
On the stage, the women would shamelessly unclothe and gyrate to the music in an effort to convince the men and women watching to throw out $1 bills.
Would I ever know what was really going on in those female entertainers personal lives? What contributed to their lack of inhibition on the stage? I know for myself that my lack of inhibitions came from early childhood exposure to pornography. Perhaps some of it came from an early marriage to someone that came from an entirely different background whose vastly different approach to relationships gave me a type of PTSD. Maybe it was just bitterness or envy or pride.
Either way, I felt no different than those ladies dancing on the strip club floor. The only difference is that they were getting paid for losing their inhibitions. My only paycheck was a toxic relationship with someone who had been my best friend for over 8 years.
I sat coolly in the bench, texting and browsing my social media when one of the servers came by and I asked for a Red Bull. I would keep my eye on both my Snapchat conversations and the entertainers on the stage.
The bouncer came by and looked over my shoulder while I was using my Snapchat app and nearly threw me out because he thought I was taking photos. I think most of the dancers recognized me because only one of them came by to offer a lap dance which I politely refused.
The music droned on until one dancer came out to my favorite music genre, electro swing. Maybe that was a popular genre, but I had never heard of anyone else listening to that genre in person. My attention was caught entirely during her two dances.
I sipped on my Redbull until midnight and I decided it was time for me to leave. My conscience was seared enough for one night.
I’ve called people out for their life choices before. In fact, as a young church staff member, my sermons often reproved people for their deeds done in darkness.
One thing that bothers me is that I know that it is not God honoring to hang out with people that drink alcohol, lose their sobriety, take drugs and commit fornication. (or do those things myself) But I’ve found myself in a strange predicament.
I don’t understand a lot of these things. And those that I love and care for have begun to participate in those things. And it makes me angry. Very angry. I’ve had to sear my conscience just to not become unreasonable in my reaction to their lack of sobriety.
But I also recognize that those in my life will not be helped by me losing my sobriety either. Whatever you can take from my story, I will not be preachy. I will just tell you how I feel right now. Maybe a different perspective several years from now will help me give better advice.
Right now, I feel committed to being a better person. Maybe I can have less violent thoughts and become more committed to my goals and potential. Those around me may choose to lose their sobriety, but for myself I intend to maintain my awareness even if that means my conscience will be seared.
There are a lot of people that have never been to a strip club, I know because I had never been until a year and a half ago. But let’s call a spade a spade: strip clubs are full of men that are committing mental adultery, women that are committing mental (or physical) sodomite acts, and people that are choosing to lose their sobriety to alcohol and drugs.
Plus, who knows what kind of human trafficking happens behind the scenes at some of the seedy strip clubs (or even the “not so seedy” ones for that matter.)
And let’s also recognize the waste of time it really is for most people. Oh, and is getting a lap dance really the best use of your money? Beyond all of these things, I understand that there are many men and women that find themselves in the same situation as I did. Burning inside, feeling like the searing of their conscience is the only way to dull the pain.
My only advice is to call it for what it is, that you may find your way out of the darkness. Call whoremongering what it is. Call adultery what it is. Call it by the Biblical word. Don’t be afraid of confronting your own demons, maybe God will use you if you maintain a soft heart.
Consider David, consider Judah, consider Abraham, look at all these men used by God. Don’t sin just that grace may abound, but when you do sin, repent. And the only way to repent is to use God’s definitions of sin. Don’t excuse sin; basically don’t harden your heart. Because once you start hardening your heart, God has the power to harden your heart further. And when God hardens your heart, you will eventually be crushed to powder under His mighty hand.
Keep a soft heart. Psalms 51.
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