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  • A Comprehensive Study on
    Prostitution in the Bible


    Regarding the topic of prostitution, we find generally one viewpoint among Christians as to what the scripture states, namely, that all prostitution is sinful and evil in God's sight. However, there is one thing I have learned from studying the scriptures over the years. If you are truly seeking His truth, you sometimes need to study the scriptures in depth, in the original languages, to find God's mind on certain topics.

    Now, I was not actually seeking out the truth on this topic, as I thought I already had it. Yet, one day, while browsing through a certain Christian website, I found a very long and very odd article on this very topic, regarding whores and harlots. At first, I was completely shocked to see such an article, probably like your reaction to seeing mine here. And strangely, this man's argument was very level headed, unique and honestly appeared very scriptural. It displayed some small, but significant errors in how many Christians view the topic.

    OK, bear with me here as I explain out this viewpoint. It really, honestly, makes complete sense of this topic, to where, you will have no more confusion. Further, it fits all the pieces of the puzzle together, as you see them in the Old and New Testaments. No more will you think, "Gee that is an odd story or statement in the Old Testament." It is like someone solved the Rubic's Cube and then told you how he did it.

    First, let me point out the main error that many Christians make when reading scripture. This is probably the single most significant error I can think of, when studying this topic. Please look at this Bible verse below and tell me what you think it says:

    "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel." - Deuteronomy 23:17-18

    Now, it should be obvious what it says in English. No woman can be a whore who is a daughter of Israel and no man can be a gay who is a son in Israel. Right?

    Well, unfortunately, there is a problem with this rendering of this Bible verse. You do not need to take my word for it. You can see it for yourself below just by clicking on the Strong's numbers next to the words "whore" and "sodomite":

    23:17 There shall be no whore 6948 of the daughters 1323 of Israel 3478, nor a sodomite 6945 of the sons 1121 of Israel 3478.(whore: or, sodomitess) - Deuteronomy 23:17-18

    The term "whore" is literally "female temple prostitute" and the term "sodomite" is literally "male temple prostitute".

    So, a more accurate rendering of this passage would be:

    "There shall be no (female temple prostitute) of the daughters of Israel, nor a (male temple prostitute) of the sons of Israel." - Deuteronomy 23:17-18

    So, what is the single greatest error Christian's make when reading the scripture on this topic? They read it in English, without consulting the original definitions of the words. As, there are several different Hebrew and Greek words that are represented as "whore" or "harlot" in scripture. So, reading in English, you have no clue which type it is even refering to, when reading a passage, such as the one above.

    See how this can be an enormous problem when trying to figure out this topic? So, below, I discuss the various types of prostitution and what the Bible says on all of them. How God actually views the topic according to the Old Testament Law.

    Now, please stay with me here, as I think you will find, this viewpoint is little different and likely something you have never even heard before.

    Here is the basic summation of how the Bible views prostitution:

    1. Sex with a non-married temple prostitute = Sexual Idolatry
    2. Sex with a married temple prostitute = Adultery & Idolatry
    3. Sex with a non-married prostitute = Not a sin.
    4. Sex with a married prostitute = Adultery

    Now, the common Christian viewpoint would classify sex with a non-married prostitute as a sin as well. However, what you will see below, is that it is not a sin. As a sin is something which requires blood sacrifice or for blood to be shed (Hebrews 9:22 & Leviticus 17:11). And there is no passiage in the Bible which states that you need a blood sacrifice or for blood to be shed when someone has sex before marriage (except where a daughter prostitutes herself in her father's house - see below).

    Now, if you are married and have committed yourself to your wife only (assuming monogamous marriage), you have made a covenant with your wife and for you to do something like sleep with a non-married prostitute would be a sin, as you are breaking the marriage stipulation of being committed to your wife only. However, if you did not promise yourself only to her or your wife has no problem with you being with another women, it would then not be a sin. Look at it like a "contractual agreement" between you and your wife. If you had no stipulation about adding more wives, you are not sinning seeking another wife. But, if you had a stipulation stating you are committed to her only, you would be sinning adding another wife(or sleeping with a prostitute). You can actually see marks of this principle in the Bible within two stories: Sampson and Judah. With Sampson, he was first married to Timnath, as can be seen in Judges 14. And in Judges 15:6, we see that his wife was killed by the Philistines. And after this, he went in unto a harlot (Judges 16:1). Therefore, we can postulate, Sampson only went in unto a harlot when he was not married. Same also is the case with Judah: First, he was married to Shuah, who died (Genesis 38:12) and then in Genesis 38:15, we see he went in unto Tamar, who he thought was a harlot. So, in both cases, they had sex with harlots after their wives died.

    Also, if you look at the hebrew and greek definitions for the term "adultery" you can see that the definition is basically "unlawful intercourse with another man's wife", yet you can also see in the definition that it also means "idolatry". So, we can conclude that it is refering to the covenant aspect of marriage, either to your wife or to God. So, in a monogamous marriage, if you promise yourself to one woman, the "spirit" of the term "adultery" is to honor your marriage covenant to your wife. However, as you can see, within the actual definition, it allows for polygamy, or it would not say "unlawful intercourse with another man's wife" and would rather say something like the common secular definition, "unlawful intercourse with someone other than your spouse", which some have tried in recent years to force the Bible to say (by "updating" older Christian resources to say this instead). I don't know about you, but I like my Bible and study resources as "unadulterated" as possible, pardon the pun.

    The reason sex before marriage is not classified the same way as adultery, is because sex before marriage is not a form of theft against God or your neighbor. For instance, adultery is theft against your neighbor.

    There are only a few passages, which I have found, which discuss sex before marriage directly:

    "22:16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins." - Exodus 22:16-17

    Notice, no blood sacrifice is required for the sex act before marriage. Also, notice, no one is "stoned to death", unlike adultery. Rather, in this instance, God instructs the man to marry the woman. Now, lets analyze this a little. Could it be, God understands men and women's desires and wants to salvage situations? So, instead of putting them to death, he instructs them to marry. Does that not make sense, considering the father's desire for his virgin daughter to have an honorable marriage? But, there is more. Again, this is the only scripture that discusses young virgins specifically having sex before marriage. The only other passage in the Bible that directly discusses sex before marriage is this one below:

    "21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. 21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her." - Deuteronomy 21:10-14

    Notice here, there is literally no penalty for this man to have had sex with this woman. How do we know for sure he had sex with her? Because it says he "humbled" her before he sent her out (assuming he has no delight in her). Further, if in a month, he is not happy, he can send her away. Of course, this is a special situation, where you have a woman, who's relatives potentially died in combat when fighting Israel. So, this situation is not exactly the norm. However, we can see, though, that sex before marriage is not a sin, otherwise, God would not have given the instructions seen in the passage above. It is not God's ideal, as we can see, but that does not mean it is a sin.

    Next, lets look briefly at a common Bible verse that is used to claim all sex before marriage is a sin:

    "6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" - 1 Corinthians 6:18-19

    As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the main error Christians make on topics like this, is to read the scripture only in English and to assume what it says in English perfectly reflects what it says in the original languages. In this scripture above, the term "fornication" is used for the greek term "pornea". Now, many Christians assume that the secular definition for "fornication" suffices to explain what is being said in the text. Lets look at the American Heritage Dictionary to see what "fornication" means and then lets look at the Strong's Dictionary to see what the term "pornea" means:

    "n. Sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other."
    Word History: The word fornication had a lowly beginning suitable to what has long been the low moral status of the act to which it refers. The Latin word fornix, from which fornicatio, the ancestor of fornication, is derived, meant "a vault, an arch." The term also referred to a vaulted cellar or similar place where prostitutes plied their trade. This sense of fornix in Late Latin yielded the verb fornicari, "to commit fornication," from which is derived fornicatio, "whoredom, fornication." Our word is first recorded in Middle English about 1303. - American Heritage Dictionary

    Now, the term "pornea", which is the original greek term:

    Word: porneia

    Pronounce: por-ni'-ah

    Strongs Number: G4202

    Orig: from 4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry:--sexual immorality. G4203

    Use: TDNT-6:579,918 Noun Feminine

    Heb Strong: H2183 H8457

      1) illicit(unlawful) sexual intercourse
      1a) adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, intercourse with animals etc.
      1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
      1c) sexual intercourse with an unlawfully divorced man or woman; Mr 10:11,12
      2) metaph. the worship of idols
      2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols
      2b) any form of idolatry

    Notice any differences? Fornication has a very narrow, exact meaning, which directly refers to "sex outside of marriage". The term "pornea" means any type of sexual immorality(per scripture) and also can mean "idolatry". As you can see, the definitions are vastly different.

    Yet, if I type "fornication" into Google web search, I can find a vast amount of Christians telling me that "fornication" means "sex before marriage". As they make this very common error of using an english dictionary and reading the Bible only in english, without consulting the orignal greek definitions. Further, basing your viewpoint on a word's definition, instead of doctrine defined, is not good either, so looking to the Old Testament to learn what a word in the New Testament means, is very beneficial. On a side note, if you look at the "word history" for the term fornication (above) you will notice that the archaic meaning of the word better represents the greek term, "pornea" (but still not perfectly) and you can see that over time, the term has changed (yet the Bible remained the same).

    Is it possible for the term "pornea" to mean sex before marriage? Maybe as a cautionary tool, but not as a tool for condemnation. However, the point is to use God's exact commands in the Old Testament to know what is "sexual immorality". And if you look at Leviticus 18:7-23, you can find a very extensive list of God's sexual conduct commands, written in great detail. And you will notice, of all the sins listed, sex before marriage is not on the list. So, sex before marriage is not a sin, yet it is against God's ideal/desire. So, if you understand this, then you understand exactly what the term "fornication" in the New Testament means.

    OK, now, lets look at all the scriptures on prostitution in the Bible and see what we find:

    "38:17 And he said, I will send [thee] a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give [me] a pledge, till thou send [it]? 38:18 And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that [is] in thine hand. And he gave [it] her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. 38:19 And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 38:20 And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive [his] pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not. 38:21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where [is] the harlot, that [was] openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this [place]. 38:22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, [that] there was no harlot in this [place]. 38:23 And Judah said, Let her take [it] to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her. 38:24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she [is] with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. 38:25 When she [was] brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these [are, am] I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose [are] these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. 38:26 And Judah acknowledged [them], and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more." - Genesis 38:17-26

    In this passage, Judah was not rebuked or punished for having sex with someone he thought was a whore. Tamar was promised to be married to her dead husband's brother Onan (according to God's Law). But since, Judah's son, Onan, failed to meet the obligation of raising seed for his brother, God slew him. So, Judah told her to remain a widow and he put off the obligation of raising seed for her. As a result, Tamar decided to be crafty and pretend to be a harlot and drew Judah in to sleep with her. Now, Tamar knew that since Judah's wife just died, that he would want sex and would likely seek a prostitute, so she cleverly disguised herself as a harlot and drew him in. And since, Tamar was to be promised seed for her family and since Onan was dead, she figured why not Judah, which flows with God's Law as discussed in Numbers 36:8

    "2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there." - Joshua 2:1

    Here, we see two men, chosen by Joshua to scout the land of Jericho. And when they arrive to Jericho, they stay at a prostitute's house. Her name was Rahab and she is praised in the Hall of Faith and also is an ancestor of Jesus Christ. She was not an "inn keaper" or a "hostess". If you look at the Hebrew words for "harlot's house", you discover it means, "house of a woman who is a harlot".

    Rahab later on married Salma and gave birth to Boaz, who ended up being Ruth's husband, who is an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

    So, we see, in the Hall of Faith, she was saved, because of her faith and protecting the spies of God, while being a prostitute:

    "11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." - Hebrews 11:31

    "2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?" - James 2:25

    Even Paul calls her a "harlot" and says she was saved by her faith. How more direct can it be said? If you look at the word "harlot" in the passage, you discover it means, "a woman who sells her body for sexual uses".

    Now, is that the only prostitute that made it to Heaven? A very good question. Here is the answer according to Jesus himself:

    "Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." - Matthew 21:31

    According to this scripture, the prostitutes and tax collectors will make it to Heaven before these religious leaders of Jesus day. What an amazing statement! Can you imagine any person saying such a thing?

    If that was not amazing enough, lets take a look at Sampson's life.

    FIRST, he had the Spirit of the Lord within him:

    "15:14 [And] when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that [were] upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands." - Judges 15:14

    SECOND, he slept with a prostitute (maybe Delilah here?):

    "16:1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her." - Judges 16:1

    THIRD, he did not loose God's Spirit until his hair was cut:

    "16:16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, [so] that his soul was vexed unto death; 16:17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I [have been] a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any [other] man. 16:18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. 16:19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 16:20 And she said, The Philistines [be] upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." - Judges 16:16-20

    As you can see in the passage above, the Spirit of the Lord departed him only after his hair was cut. Meaning, God's Spirit, was in him, while sleeping with this harlot in verse 1 and while again sleeping with Delilah a couple times, thereafter. How do we know that he was having sex and not just "staying the night"? Because he actually left at midnight, not the next morning on the first time. How do we know that Delilah was acting as a prostitute? Because she did it for 1,100 pieces of silver.

    Why is it God's Spirit left him when his hair was cut? It is because he broke his covenant with God. As the Nazarite vow required for their hair not to be cut as part of the covenant vow:

    "6:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 6:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate [themselves] to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate [themselves] unto the LORD: 6:3 He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 6:4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. 6:5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth [himself] unto the LORD, he shall be holy, [and] shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6:6 All the days that he separateth [himself] unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 6:7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God [is] upon his head. 6:8 All the days of his separation he [is] holy unto the LORD." - Numbers 6:1-8

    Read this passage above carefully. Notice something? A Nazarite is not allowed to become "unclean" and is to be "holy". Yet, Sampson, who took the Nazarite vow, had God's Spirit within him and did not break his covenant with God, WHILE sleeping with a prostitute!

    This just goes to prove, it is actually true. A man can sleep with a harlot, without sinning! Of course, the harlot can not be a "temple prostitute" and can not be "married". Otherwise, it would be "idolatry" and "adultery". Further, note that Sampson is not bound in a marriage contract (as his wife died before he slept with a prostitute).

    It is one of those things, where you study it and just can not believe it. And you want to return to your previous viewpoint, am I right? You can not even take it, because it seems so wrong according to common teaching from scripture! Yes, I felt the same way when I read this other guy's argument. But, it makes logical sense and fits too well. Yet, it is like opening some pandora's box that you were not suppose to find.

    Regarding the potential that Sampson sinned and broke his Nazarite vow prior to these events: I don't think it is as clear and many seem to assume. I have read various comments online, and I am surprised at how quick people are to make judgements based on their understanding. First, one person states that he married a Philistine woman named Timnah and claims that this was obviously sinful. However, Sampson's own devout parents were not sure if it is of God or not. So, first, his parents were not sure if it was right or wrong, and they knew far more about their own culture, time period and how to apply God's law to their own lives, than a person today would know. Second, according to scripture, he did it to get a foot-hold of controversy with the Philistines, and that it was "of the Lord". Second, a person states, he killed hundreds of people, so he touched many dead bodies. However, this is bad logic. All those people he had slain are not actually dead for atleast a few minutes after the death blow (as various functions in the body are still in operation). This would mean, he did not touch any dead bodies, to our knowledge here. Third, many people claim he drank wine. There is not one verse that actually says this, but people so much love to mock and look at Sampson as a sinner, they just automatically assume he drank wine when he was at the feast (which is a very proud judgement without knowledge). Fourth, some claim, because he said to the Philistines, regarding his wife that they were "ploughing with his heifer" that he was saying something evil about his wife. However, such a judgement can not be made, as it was an entirely different culture and could have been a common saying. Further, the understanding of the household structure back then was that a man is head of his household and all in his household was considered his property, unlike our "enlightened" times of today. So, again, no reason to assume sin. Last, there is the fact he turned aside and ate honey from the lion's dead carcass (which he killed). Whether or not he sinned here, I am not totally sure. Because, the Hebrew word for this command in the Nazarite vow is not entirely clear as to whether it means he can not go near a dead body or if he can not touch a dead body. If it means he can not touch a dead body, it is possible, he may not have touched the dead lion's carcass, as it never explicitly mentions this, although he was able to get honey out of the carcass (kind of like the game "Operation", without touching the sides and making it buzz). It is possible it means, though, he can not turn aside and get near a dead carcass. If it means this in the Nazarite vow, he would have sinned when he did this, which is quite possible. I think the point is that Sampson would follow his Nazarite vow, but he was very reckless in his ways with close calls (getting honey from carcass, sleeping with prostitutes, etc). AT ANY RATE, the claim that he was just a "dirty sinner" is frankly easily dismantled just looking at what I just wrote. People should be careful to use God's Word, rather than to assume their own standards and conjectures when judging someone in the Bible. Unfortunately, most people just read the Bible in English, focus mainly on the New Testament, and are not careful with His Word.

    If that was not enough, there are other passages. And they all seem to fit squarely with the viewpoint I am presenting here. All those odd stories that never made sense, now start to make some sense, do they not?

    Now, lets consider another situation in the Old Testament. God commanding a prophet of God, Hosea, to marry a prostitute:

    "1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, [departing] from the LORD. 1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son." - Hosea 1:2-3

    OK, in this passage here, we hear God telling Hosea to marry a harlot who lives inside the borders of Israel. Which means, God did not consider a harlot, living in Israel, an abomination. Otherwise, God would not have had Hosea marrying the harlot, but rather would have had the harlot put to death. Do you see what I mean? That is why the very first passage I quoted at the beginning of this article was so crucial. Because, when you read it in English, it sounds like God is saying "no whore" can live in Israel, when, it actually says in the original Hebrew, no "temple prostitute" can be allowed in Israel:

    23:17 There shall be no whore 6948 of the daughters 1323 of Israel 3478, nor a sodomite 6945 of the sons 1121 of Israel 3478.(whore: or, sodomitess) - Deuteronomy 23:17-18

    Now, of course, God's ideal is for a man to marry, not sleep with a prostitute or to marry multiple wives. As God's ideal is for sex to be in marriage and for there never to be divorce:

    "10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." - Mark 10:5-9

    Most conservative Christians consider God's ideal as the only way. Meaning, they do not believe it is possible to get a divorce, or to have multiple wives, or to sleep with a prostitute. But, God's ideal is not God's command. It is permissible to have more than one wife. It is permissible in certain circumstances to get a divorce. It is permissible in certain circumstances to have sex with a prostitute. Yet, God would rather you do none of these things. So, it is not a matter of condemnation, but a matter of wisdom. Is it wise to sleep with a prostitute? The answer is no. Is it wise to have more than one wife? Generally, best to avoid. Is it wise to get a divorce? If it can be avoided, please avoid.

    God's Commandments Regarding Prostitution:

    There are three passages in the Old Testament that are directed against certain types of whoredom.

    "19:29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness." - Leviticus 19:29

    In this scripture passage, we find God commanding parents not to prostitute their daughter. The reason this prohibition was put into place, is because of a few different reasons:

    1. We are not to make merchandise of our neighbor
    2. Many nations surrounding Israel had certain customs of prostituting their daughter to gain money for their own marriage or unto a false god, etc. And the Israelites were not to be wicked like those God drove out of the land.
    3. Prostitution on a rampant level can cause the land to fall into wickedness.

    The second passage, we have already discussed two times, namely: Deuteronomy 23:17-18. And the common error is that the mistranslated term "whore" is actually "female temple prostitute" in the original Hebrew. Obviously, "temple prostitution" is a form of idolatry and of course, God would be against such an action, because it violates the 1st of the 10 Commandments.

    The third passage:

    "21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire." - Leviticus 21:9

    The penalty in this passage is to "daughters of priests". And what is the reason for this penalty? Because sex, money and religion are not to be mixed. Temple prostitution is prohibited, as you read in the first scripture cited in this article. Since temple prostitution is prohibited, it follows that a priest's daughter can not be a prostitute. Besides the obvious temptation to fall into wickedness for a myriad of reasons: for filthy lucre; to be like the wicked nations around them; etc.

    Priests also had many other rules, other than this one, so we can not say this applies to us today, otherwise all these other rules would apply to us today as well:

    1. Can not make baldness on their head.
    2. Could not rent his clothes.
    3. Could only marry a virgin.
    4. Could not touch a dead body.

    So, these rules only applied to priests' daughters, not to all people.

    What does it mean, when I say, "It is against God's will, but not a sin"?

    It means there is no penalty attributed with violating the principle. Unlike commandments, where if you violated, you have sinned, and there is a penalty. However, there can be "consequences" for going against "God's will". For instance, there is one passage that says:

    "22:8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence." - Deuteronomy 22:8

    As you can see here, it is not a sin to ignore this instruction from God. However, the consequence of you ignoring this instruction is that someone may fall from your roof. And if someone falls from your roof, you are liable for that death and have then committed a sin. So, to avoid the sin, it is wise to follow God's ideal.

    So, God's Will is to keep you from risky situations that could lead to sin.

    It is the slippery slope concept. Sex before marriage may not be a sin, but it could lead you sexual sin. Drinking alcohol may not be a sin, but it can potentially lead you to alcoholism, which is a sin. Gambling may not be a sin, but it could lead you to loving money, which is a sin. Polygamy may not be a sin, but potentially your wives could lead you into sin. Prostitution may not be a sin, but could lead to a sinful lifestyle. There is a reason why Las Vegas is called "Sin City". It may not be a sin in every circumstance to "gamble", but it has a very easy tendency to lead you into sin. Just ask the tens of thousands who have lost their life savings there!

    How in the world can you be correct, as there are so many passages against whores?

    Well, lets look at a few of them and see if under close scrutiny, they really say what you thought they said. Before we go there, let me mention briefly that commonly in the New Testament, the term harlot is designated for a "non-married prostitute" and the term whore more often is designated for a "married prostitute" in scripture. It is not always true, but is often true in the renderings into English. Of course, these passages below are Old Testament, so the principle does not apply.

    "7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman [with] the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 7:11 (She [is] loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 7:12 Now [is she] without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) 7:13 So she caught him, and kissed him, [and] with an impudent face said unto him, ... 7:18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 7:19 For the goodman [is] not at home, he is gone a long journey: 7:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, [and] will come home at the day appointed. ... 7:25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 7:26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong [men] have been slain by her. 7:27 Her house [is] the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." - Proverbs 7:10-27

    Here, it appears that King Solomon is speaking against all prostitutes. However, notice verse 19. In verse 19, she reveals that her husband (goodman) has went away on a journey. From this fact, we know she is a married prostitute, which has a penalty of death according to Mosaic Law. So, to condemn non-married prostitutes because of this passage is unwarranted.

    So, at first glance, it appears to be speaking against all prostitutes, but in actuality, it is speaking against a married woman who is cheating on her husband, while he is away. Whether she did it for money or not, makes no difference, as she has committed adultery.

    "5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." - Ephesians 5:5-6

    Here, it appears that Paul is saying all whores will goto Hell, right? Well, actually, the term "whoremonger" means:

    Word: pornoj

    Pronounce: por'-nos

    Strongs Number: G4205

    Orig: from pernemi (to sell; akin to the base of 4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal), i.e. (by analogy) a debauchee (libertine):--fornicator, whoremonger. G4097

    Use: TDNT-6:579,918 Noun Masculine

    Heb Strong:

      1) a man who prostitutes his body to another's lust for hire
      2) a male prostitute
      3) a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse

    So, basically, it is refering to potentially two different types of people. One would be a "male prostitute" and the other would be a man who "indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse". I think the main gist of this definition is "a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse", whether he is a common man or a prostitute. And we know what sexual activities are "unlawful" by looking at Leviticus 18:7-23. Sex before marriage is not on this extensive list, however incest, adultery, gay sex and a few others are on the list. Often, but maybe not always, "male prostitutes" are used for gay sex. So, we know, a man who lives by doing these sexual sins discussed in Leviticus 18:7-23, will not inherit eternal life in Heaven. As we can see, though, it is not refering to women, but rather men.

    "21:13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 21:14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, [or] an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife." - Leviticus 21:13-14

    In this passage, we see God instructing all high priests to marry only virgins. God mentions widows, divorced women and prostitutes as not marriage material for a high priest. So this scripture does not make any judgement for or against prostitutes. Again, the reason why a high priest has to marry a virgin, is because he is a man representing the people of God and is to be of His highest and most ideal standard.

    "25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 25:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 25:5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor." - Numbers 25:1-5

    Here, we see that Israel started to fellowship with the heathen nations around them, sacrificing unto idols. If you read just verse 1, and ignore the rest, it sounds like God is judging them for having sex with Moabite women. But, in actuality, these Moabite women are leading them astray after false gods. As a result, God's anger grew fierce, for this idolatry and God had the leaders of the people hung in the sun and those who joined Baalpeor killed. Therefore, this is not a result of men having sex with women, but rather men being foolish and following these women to sacrifice unto devils.

    "22:20 But if this thing be true, [and the tokens of] virginity be not found for the damsel: 22:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, [both] the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 22:23 If a damsel [that is] a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 22:24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, [being] in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. 22:25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: 22:26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; [there is] in the damsel no sin [worthy] of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so [is] this matter: 22:27 For he found her in the field, [and] the betrothed damsel cried, and [there was] none to save her. " - Deuteronomy 22:20-27

    This passage is really interesting, as it goes through all the various forms of theft:

    1. Theft against a father - ( Daughter stealing from her father, while in his household, by prostituting herself for money. This makes it impossible for the father to have a honorable marriage for his daughter. This is in contrast to a virgin daugher who has sex before marriage and then is required to marry the man she had sex with. )
    2. Theft against a married man - ( His wife lies with another man. )
    3. Theft against a married man, but the wife did not want - ( The man rapes another man's wife and the wife tries to scream or get away. )

    So, the idea is that the daughter is raised by her parents, so she needs to honor them while living with them, by allowing her father to have an honorable marriage for her. Yet, once she is not under his care or lordship, she generally then is under the care of a husband, but there are cases where a woman is not. And in those cases, such as widowhood, proper divorce or just out on her own, she is permitted to have sex before marriage, though, it is against God's ideal. So, in the case where a woman is not under a husband's lordship, she could theoretically be a harlot. However, with the design of Israel's theocracy, it appears that polygamy is considered a better avenue than harlotry, as it is proper marriage and more commonplace. Further, if we read God's original design, before "The Fall", we see that the intent is for a man to leave his parents and become one flesh with his wife and never have a divorce.

    "3:16 Then came there two women, [that were] harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. ... 3:22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living [is] my son, and the dead [is] thy son. And this said, No; but the dead [is] thy son, and the living [is] my son. Thus they spake before the king. ... 3:25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. 3:26 Then spake the woman whose the living child [was] unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, [but] divide [it]. 3:27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she [is] the mother thereof. 3:28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God [was] in him, to do judgment." - 1 Kings 3:16-28

    Now, here we have a story about two harlots who live together and one of them accidentially lay on her child and it died and then, because of her grief, attempted to steal the other whore's child. And King Solomon had to discern who's child it really was, as both were claiming to be the mother of the living child. And King Solomon pretended like he was going to saw the child in half and give each woman one half of a child. As a result, the real mother said please no, at worst give my child unto the other woman. And the other woman, did not care if the child was cut in twain, because her child was already dead. This is how King Solomon discovered who the true mother was.

    However, King Solomon in all of his wisdom, did not sentence these two harlots to death for being harlots. Matter of fact, he did not even condemn to death the harlot, who accidentially killed her son in her sleep.

    "6:23 For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life: 6:24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 6:25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 6:26 For by means of a whorish woman [a man is brought] to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 6:27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 6:28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 6:29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent." - Proverbs 6:23-29

    "23:27 For a whore [is] a deep ditch; and a strange woman [is] a narrow pit. " - Proverbs 23:27

    "29:3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth [his] substance." - Proverbs 29:3

    With Proverbs 6:23-29 we see, again, it is a woman who is married, playing the whore, as it mentions "adulteress" and "neighbor's wife".

    On Proverbs 23:27 and Proverbs 29:3 we see it is unwise to keep company with harlots, because they are a deep ditch and you can waste your money on them, which correlates with the concept that sleeping with harlots or going to strip joints is "not God's ideal" and against wisdom (yet is not a sin).

    "5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by [them that are] no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. 5:8 They were [as] fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife. 5:9 Shall I not visit for these [things]? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" - Jeremiah 5:7-9

    Here, we see that the people of God have forsaken Him and have gone after idols and their neighbor's wife. I believe God's statement here: "assembled themselves by troops in the harlot's houses" shows the people's self-seeking, self-gratifying mindset and their lack of concern whether these harlots were even married. Showing that they are truly a selfish, self-seeking, unruly, God ignoring generation of sinners. But, this does not here directly condemn all harlots as evil. We see in verse 8: "neighed after his neighbour's wife", which mirrors Jesus' words in Matthew 5:28.

    "16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine." - Ezekiel 16:8

    "16:35 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: 16:36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; 16:37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all [them] that thou hast loved, with all [them] that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness." - Ezekiel 16:35-37

    You may have thought about the fact that God judged Israel for her "whoredoms". And this may in your mind convince you that God is against all forms of "whoredom". However, notice, God married Israel, meaning, Israel is His wife, as he "spread his skirt over her", which is what Boaz did with Ruth to signify marriage. So, in actuality, the problem is, Israel was cheating on God, and was being a "married prostitute", that is why God judged Israel.

    You may ask, "Well what about these two passages?"

    "6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid. 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. [article] 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." - 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

    "3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are." - 1 Corinthians 3:16-

    Will not "God destroy you" if you join yourself to a harlot?

    Actually, this is a very fair question. After doing a bit of research, I discovered a few things of great relevance. First, the Historian Strabo indicates that in 7th Century B.C., Corinth's Temple to Aphrodite employed 1000 cultic temple prostitutes. Now many historians seem to "squable" regarding whether it truly was 1000 temple prostitutes in 7th Century BC, as it is questionable what source Strabo used for this information. However, the only reason they contest is because Strabo was living in (ca. 64 BC-AD 21) and he would not have direct prima facie knowledge of what was occuring in 7th century Corinth. During Strabo's time, Rome had already conquered Corinth and had significant influence over it, and much of the operations at the Temple of Aphrodite had diminished. So, if you research it, you will discover many seem to down play this idea of Corinth being filled with temple prostitutes.

    HOWEVER, I found one very interesting line, which many seem to miss:

    "Prostitutes were regularly regarded as devotees of Aphrodite in Greek literature, but that does not make them cult prostitutes per se." - Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42.3 (1999): 443-460

    Isn't that an interesting little statement? Most people in Corinth during the time of Paul, regularly regarded harlots as "devotees of Aphrodite". So, in other words, they were not doing "official harlotry for Aphrodite", but still considered their "harlotry" unto Aphrodite. Would that not make them an unofficial "temple prostitute" in God's sight? According to God's Law, yes.

    Now, I mentioned all of this, because a lot of "historians" downplay this "temple prostitute" idea. However, we are not looking for "official" temple prostitutes, but rather, harlots doing their service unto false gods, whether officially or unofficially. Now, lets discuss this passage of Paul's. Notice, it says "ye are the temple of God". Why would Paul mention you are the temple of God, while talking about "harlots", unless he was directly refering to the "temple prostitutes" of Corinth? So, it is about looking at the scripture in context to the time, location and people being written to.

    Further, Paul seems to be making an argument against sleeping with these harlots, by saying "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost". So, saying the body is a temple, and that bringing an idol into a temple would "defile" it. So, if it was refering to a normal prostitute, it does not make a lot of sense to argue this way. But, if he is refering to these temple prostitutes, it makes a great deal of sense, as she is worshipping an idol and you are bring her body, an "idolatrous body temple", and making it one with your body, a "temple to the Holy Ghost", hence defiling the temple of God. For which, God would destroy you as a result.

    Last, it says "ye are bought with a price". What is this refering to? It is refering to the marriage design instituted in the Old Testament. In that a man would pay the "dowry" or "price" for his bride and she is then his wife. So, you are bought with a price and are married to Jesus Christ. Now, a question for you: "If you are married to Jesus Christ, can you marry another?" The answer to that question is "No". But, the Bible makes it clear that Christian men and women can marry. Therefore, it is not speaking of physical marriage, but rather spiritual marriage. So, Paul is saying you are to flee fornication, because you are spiritually married to Jesus Christ. And from this, we can see that this fornication violates your spiritual marriage to Christ. Since it is not refering to physical marriage (as you are allowed to marry another Christian), it is refering to a fornication that is "spiritual". And looking at the preceding verses, we see it discussing "harlots". How can harlots make you cheat on God spiritually? Only if there is idolatry involved. Therefore, Paul is speaking of temple harlotry.

    Theoretically, you could contrive that Paul is talking about harlots in general, but as you can see, from studying Corinth's history and how Corinth harlots viewed themselves in Paul's time, we know there was still this "temple prostitution" stigma in the minds of prostitutes in Corinth, from their deep history of employing prostitution unto the false god of Aphrodite (considering Strabo indicates there were 1000 Cultic Official Temple Prostitutes unto Aphrodite in 7th Century Corinth, prior to Roman occupation).

    So, what should we take away from this? God's desire is for sex to be in marriage and for a man to marry one time and never get a divorce. But, sometimes, the ideal can not be acheived. In certain societies, it is beneficial to the woman to be in a plural marriage. Such as countries which give women few rights. In some circumstances, if you have an abusive spouse or one that cheats, it makes sense to have a divorce. And, believe it or not, there are some circumstances, where it maybe beneficial for a non-married woman to be a prostitute. I actually read a story about some very strong, persecuted Christian women, of age, who lived in a communist country(Romania back in WWII?) and, as Christians, could not get money to even buy bread. These two sisters prostituted themselves to get money to put food on the table. Their mother, almost had a mental breakdown as a result (being a strong persecuted Christian). Now, the question is, do we condemn these two women for doing this just to buy bread for their family, so as to not starve to death? Richard Wurmbrand actually tells this story in "Tortured for Christ", founder of "Voice of the Martyrs" and even he could not bring judgement. So, since we live in a fallen world, some activities outside of the "ideal" are permitted. And by permitted, I do not mean you can accomplish or have the ability to do the ideal. As in the case of divorce, say your spouse keeps cheating on you. So God's "secondary ideal" in this case is for you likely to divorce. Yet, God's "true ideal" would be for your spouse not to cheat and for your marriage to be saved. See what I mean? It is not always in your hands to do the ideal, but rather people and society around you effect your options. So, if a person follows scripture and the ideal can not be achieved in their lives, we should not judge them for not accomplishing the ideal. Yet, we should always strive for the ideal, as we want God's will in our lives.

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