2012 – Fast Food Twenty-Seventh Helping

Prostitution is the act or practice of men or women providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute.

The practice of prostitution in the ancient Near East seems to have been under no moral censure and was extremely common. A peculiar feature of Mesopotamian and Canaanite culture was ritual prostitution. To the temples of the goddess of fertility were attached bordellos serviced by consecrate women, who represented the goddess, the female principle of fertility. Intercourse with these women was communion with the divine.

The morality of the Hellenistic-Roman world was, if possible, looser than the morality of the ancient Near East: sexual intercourse was regarded as a normal and necessary part of a healthy and well-ordered life. Prostitutes furnished a service to the community that was as respected as the services of the butcher or the baker.

The numerous allusions to prostitution and houses of prostitution in the Old Testament shows that the practice was found in Israel. Prostitution in Israel, however, lay under censure. There are allusions to cultic, as opposed to commercial, prostitution in the Old Testament. But, cultic prostitution was prohibited in the service Yahweh.

The infidelity of Israel to Yahweh is called prostitution by the prophets. The same figure is used in the historical books. This vigorous metaphor is the reverse of the conception of the union of Yahweh and Israel in a union of love and marriage. The metaphor of adultery is used in the same sense as prostitution” John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible.

Warring, like prostitution, was under no moral censure in the Near East of Biblical times nor in the Hellenistic-Roman world. Temples to honor the gods of war were an ordinary feature of the landscape. War was regarded as a normal and a necessary part of life. There is no just war theory in the Old Testament. The warrior furnished a service to the community that was as respected as the butcher and the baker and the prostitute.

The Jesus of the Gospels and original Christianity rejected as consistent with the will of the Father those acts by human beings that are absolutely necessary to be a prostitute or a warrior. This by necessity meant that the follower of Jesus, the Christian, could not become a member of a bordello or a member of the killing military. In fact it is reasonable to assume that being a warrior was seen as a greater infidelity to Jesus and hence to the Father than prostitution involving unmarried men and women. While prostitution was a grave evil, killing a human being, legally or illegally, was not only a grave evil in original Christianity but also an excommunicable offense with no possibility of re-admittance to the Church, until the year 265 AD—and then only after years of public penance.

To apply the “vigorous metaphor” of prostitution to what is taking place today and for many yesterdays in relationship to Constantinian Church officers and Constantinian Church communities sending those who are Baptized into Christ off to be trained to kill and to kill other sons and daughter of the One whom Jesus reveals is the Father of all, and to be doing this in the name and under the patronage of Jesus, is not a hyperbolic exercise in personal pique at what is going on and what it is doing to people and to the Church. It is Biblical realism and Gospel truth. In other words, it is extreme infidelity to the Will and Way of God as revealed by Jesus, the Incarnation of God. It is a degree of infidelity for which the “vigorous metaphor” of prostitution may be a spiritual and moral understatement.

For the Christian, acculturation—conformity to a culture, its mores, its value system, its understanding of reality and of human existence—ends where the culture runs counter to the will of God as revealed by Jesus. This is a Christian moral imperative, even if such acculturation is highly profitable, and even if it permits the Christian to do many good Christian deeds that could not otherwise be done. It is morally impermissible to do evil as a means to doing good. If doing what is in direct contradiction to the explicit teaching of Jesus is not evil for the Christian, then Jesus has nothing to say to him or her, let alone command, regarding good and evil, that is, regarding God’s will that is to be done on earth as it is in heaven. A societal/cultural activity or option that cannot be done in conformity with what Jesus taught, regardless of how normal, how commonplace, how legal or how revered it is in the society/culture, is an activity or option in which the Christian cannot participate without doing evil.

Statue to honor the prostitutes of the world in Amsterdam in front of the Oude Kerk, the oldest (1306) continuing Church in Amsterdam (now Calvinist Dutch Reform). Statue in front of St. Clement’s Church (Anglican) in London honoring Arthur “Bomber” Harris, the head of Bomber Command that fire-bombed German Cities, e.g., Dresden, at the end of World War II. Massive memorial, the largest on campus, at the University of Notre Dame (Catholic) honoring American-Notre Dame warriors.

How long, O Lord, how long?



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