By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (ANS – Feb. 3, 2015) — It’s been said that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. And though that’s an overstatement—the first professions mentioned in Genesis are farming and shepherding(1)—prostitution is a widespread reality. There is willing prostitution (practiced on their own accord) and forced prostitution (such as the sex-slave trade).
According to Business Insider, there are over forty-two million prostitutes working in the world, “three quarters of them…between the ages of 13 and 25.”(2) There’s no real way to know how many of them choose it and how many are forced. In America alone, some estimate that there are over one million prostitutes, raking in over 250 million in commerce.(3)
The Bible speaks of prostitution in both the Old and New Testaments. The general consensus of the biblical witness is that it is immoral (see Proverbs 23:27-28). God’s word makes it clear that prostitution wreaks havoc on everyone involved with its practice—from practitioner to pimp to purchaser—and does great damage to the souls of the people involved. It’s a perversion of God’s purpose and plan for sex.
Yet, Jesus loves prostitutes. While prostitutes are not living within God’s will for their lives, they are not outside of His grace and mercy. They can reach out to the loving hands of the Savior, finding hope, salvation, and new life.
To help us understand the topic, we’ll define the word, discover what the Bible has to say about the topic, and develop a plan to reach the hurting person caught in prostitution.
The word prostitute is taken from two Latin words, the prefix pro (meaning before) and statuere (meaning, set up, or place). In a literal sense, it means someone who set up a place beforehand. Throughout the Middle Ages, the definition was generally understood as someone exposed publically, or offered for sale. In its modern usage, a prostitute is someone who engages in sexual activity for payment, and refers both to men and women.
Prostitution is part of what is deemed the sex-trade industry, which includes sex tourism and sex trade.
The Bible has a multitude of references to prostitutes and the act of prostitution. Some of the Hebrew and Greek words used for prostitution include:(4)
A temple prostitute: qadesh (Hebrew)
A harlot: qedashah (Hebrew)
Someone who commits fornication: zanah (Hebrew)
A male prostitute: keleb (Hebrew), a reference to a dog.
A general New Testament reference to a prostitute: porne (Greek)
Key Bible verses include:
Proverbs 23:27-28: For a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well. ??She also lies in wait as for a victim, and increases the unfaithful among men.
Proverbs 6:25-26: Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread.
1 Corinthians 6:13b: Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
Romans 8:1-2: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
In an article for Christianity Today, writer Rachel Marie Stone interviewed a former prostitute named Anny Donewald. Donewald entered the field of prostitution at the age of nineteen, plunging “headlong into the sored world of exotic dancing and prostitution.”(5)
When Stone asked Donewald the most effective way to “minister to strippers and prostitutes,” she replied, “We want to offer a message of hope, rather than condemnation. Ultimately, I believe it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts. They ought to know we’re Christians by our love. But that won’t happen if we come across as judgmental. If anything, that turns girls in the sex industry off from Christ. Besides, to these girls, the attitude is ‘I’m already in hell—why are you telling me I’m going to hell?’ What they need, instead, is a sense that a different kind of life is possible.”
As is the case with all people—regardless of the sin in which they are entrapped—Christians must offer LOVE:
L—Listen to people. Make a sincere effort to get to know them and their situation.
O—Observe their life. Where are they coming from—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Find the root of the issue. Ask yourself, How can I assist them?
V—Voice God’s truth. What does the Bible teach concerning prostitution? Even more importantly, what does it say about forgiveness, grace, and love?
E—Embrace them with the love of God in Christ. Empathize based on shared experiences (if possible and useful), but keep Jesus the focus of your conversation and outreach.
To learn more about the Jesus Loves People series at Calvary Albuquerque, click here: http://jesuslovespeople.com/
1 See Genesis 1:29 and Genesis 4:2.
Photo caption: A prostitute working the street