The Christian Response to Prostitution

Posted in christian thought, cultural relevance, social justice by Nathan Creitz on April 23, 2009
Rembrandt "Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery

"Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery" by Rembrandt

On Tuesday I wrote a post about the legalization of prostitution. The response to that post in the comments, on Facebook, and other social sites like Twitter and Reddit has been very interesting. Everyone from fundamentalists to sex workers have been voicing their opinion on the matter. Some have voiced their opinions on legal grounds and others have been on moral grounds (though I tried to do a fair job of keeping it on the legal side for the sake of discussion).

So, what do we do about it? ChurchETHOS is meant to help the church think about it’s habits and it’s reputation in the world. Churches have a lot of bad habits and as a result many people have rejected the teachings of Jesus because of our poor reputation with outsiders. When confronted with an issue like prostitution what can your church do to make a positive difference?

» Show Some Love

Whatever you do, don’t get out your Sharpie and poster board and start thinking up catchy slogans about how much God hates certain groups of people. For one thing, He doesn’t! For another thing, it’s exactly the opposite; God loves prostitutes, homosexuals, murderers, and fundamentalists even if He doesn’t condone their actions. So, if we are in fact, children of God who bear the DNA of the Creator, then we will love people. I’m not going to say, we should love them, because that sets up an us vs. them mentality. I’m not going to point to Bible verses so that we feel obligated to love people who aren’t like us. There is no obligation; there is no need for exhortation; a child of God loves people! It’s part of who we are.

» Preach the Word

Pastors and other church leaders need to preach and teach the Word to the church. Emphasis should be on God’s love in giving us sex and intimacy and marriage and family. We need to talk candidly and frequently (but tactfully) about the blessings of sex but we shouldn’t shy away from talking about the dangers physically and morally of engaging in sex outside of marriage. More than that, we need to cast vision for husbands and wives that they can be faithful to one another. We need to cast vision for parents that they can raise their children to avoid moral pitfalls. We need to cast vision for teens that even though they are inundated with sexual images daily they can find ways to live a victorious life through Christ.

» Make it Personal

The church has thrown away it’s street cred by trading in it’s relational mission to the poor and the marginalized for a seat of power in Washington. It is debatable whether that seat has done more harm than good for the kingdom of God. Our collective denouncement of the world has taken its effect: we got our seat for a time but people got tired of hearing what we stand against. Not to mention that the fundamentalists failed to consider what happens when the White House no longer cares what the church thinks. The social capital that once belonged to the church is spent.

I’ve written elsewhere that our faith shouldn’t be a public faith (or private). Instead, our faith should be personal. If your church leans more towards boycotts than towards building relationships with people who don’t watch Pat Robertson on TV then change needs to happen in your church. I’m willing to let our voice in Washington fade if we renew our Gospel mission to our neighbor on a more personal, relational level.

» Show Compassion

A lot of people who are involved in prostitution don’t want to be involved in it. The church can help them find something better for their lives. The church can help counsel those who have sexual addictions. The church can take troubled teens into their homes who may have been trafficked for sex. The church can provide a non-judgmental atmosphere for people to ask questions about God. The church can raise money and awareness for social issues.

Laws only take us so far. They are given primarily to protect society. The church can do more through compassion than the government can through taxes and policies and legislation. That will only work, though, if the church actually addresses issues like prostitution. If we just try and get more control in Washington then the real mission work will never get done.

» A Parable

Once, a group of religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11). I always wondered about that story. Didn’t they catch the man in the act of adultery, too? Why didn’t they bring him to Jesus? What would Jesus have said to him? It seems unfair that the woman is the only one who is blamed.

To anyone wanting to legalize prostitution I promise I won’t try and fight you on it. I’m not going to stock up on poster board and Sharpies. Of course, my personal vote in the ballot box is one thing but I’m not going to try and mobilize an army of voters against you. Legally, I would rather see us place more emphasis on those who kidnap, abuse, and exploit women and children for their own monetary gain than on the women who often feel ostracized from society.

There are some things that should not be on the market: drugs, machine guns, sex, etc. They can all be dangerous because of their power even though they aren’t bad in all contexts (like in medicine, military, and marriage respectively). The buyer should be just as accountable as the seller when it comes to such dangerous commodities. However, I want to address issues like prostitution the way Jesus would address them. He spoke personally to the woman caught in adultery. He challenged her not to live in sin. He went beyond the law that demanded her death because he knew her accusers couldn’t live up to the law either. He spoke to her heart. He loved her. He connected with her. He forgave her.

May we the church begin acting in a way that is pleasing to our Lord and that brings about transformation in the hearts and lives of our neighbors!

Related Post: Should We Legalize Prostitution? ::  Subscribe :: Why Subscribe?