What Happens in Bangkok (Excerpt from One of the Few)
An excerpt from One of the Few. Available now on Amazon.
It was Friday night in Bangkok, and we were ready to cut loose after an intense week of flying exercises with the Royal Thai Air Force. Unfamiliar smells came in waves as we maneuvered the crowded street to find the next meeting place. I passed by vendors offering baskets of fried crickets, grasshoppers, and water beetles. There was commotion up ahead; something caused the crowd to swell in our direction. The crowd thinned to reveal a baby elephant prodded along by a young boy. Solicitations from both flanks stole my attention.
“Muhtaaazsh . . . Muhtaaazsh?” women called out from barstools with rising inflection. Scantily clad in shorts and spaghetti straps, their twangy voices reverberated in my ears. At first we had difficulty understanding their offer for a massage. In this district, there was a good chance you could choose your own ending. Unacknowledged, the calling waned; if I looked in their direction, it continued. More women chimed in if I made eye contact. We were quickly desensitized to the unceasing propositions and pressed on.
We were in the devil’s lair running a spiritual gauntlet. Buzzing neon lights captured glazy-eyed tourists and drew them toward music, liquor, and titillating shows. A mother strolled her baby down an alley filled with brothels. Voluptuous signage pulled like a tractor beam and storefront greeters beckoned to break my will. There were two battles raging to avoid sexual immorality: in the body and in the mind.
My feet easily turned my body away from the physical dangers, but my mind stubbornly prodded my eyes to linger far longer than they should have. Turning the head away is a simple habit required for developing good character. But we all know that sometimes the simplest things are difficult. They say the first look is natural. The second look is sin.
The Bible tell us in Matthew 5:28 you don’t need physical contact to be an adulterer, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Contrary to the slogan assuring you things can “stay in Vegas,” what happens in Bangkok, and the deeds impressed upon the wandering heart, stay with you forever.
God often compares sexual immorality with spiritual adultery. Anytime we put other idols above God, we become like a harlot. Instead of pursuing a sacred and monogamous relationship with God, we partner with multiple idols offering comforts only later recognized as unholy. You may not be an adulterer in the bedroom, but have you been unfaithful in your own house of worship? Violate the former and you’ve broken the seventh Commandment; violate the latter and you’ve broken the first. One will cause your spouse to weep, the other, God—in both instances you have broken a heart.
Advice with no more substance than to “follow your heart” and “do what you feel” sells books and supports the woo economy. But when these philosophies are actually lived out, they ultimately fail. Why do girls love bad boys? Why do boys want to be bad with girls? We know that sexual union is a good gift from God, but why does it entice us in ungodly ways? In order to resolve the tension, it will help to understand both the physical and spiritual elements of sexual desire.
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.