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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Prostitution

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In the ancient world, as in the modern, prostitution was widespread (Genesis 38:15; Joshua 2:1; Judges 11:1; Judges 16:1; 1 Kings 3:16; Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 6:26; Luke 15:30). In Israelite law the penalty for prostitution was death, usually by stoning (Leviticus 19:29; Leviticus 21:7; Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:21; John 8:5).

Prostitutes bring lasting damage to themselves and their lovers. The Bible gives strong warnings against them (Proverbs 2:16-19; Proverbs 5:1-14; Proverbs 6:23-27; Proverbs 7). Christians in particular should have no union with prostitutes, since they already are spiritually united with Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).

Although the Bible condemns prostitution, it does not reject prostitutes as being without hope of salvation. In the time of Jesus, prostitutes and other socially despised people were usually more willing to listen to the message of Jesus than were religiously respectable people. Some believed in him and found forgiveness (Matthew 9:11-13; Matthew 21:31-32; Luke 7:37-50; Luke 15:1). (See also ADULTERY.)

In Old Testament times Israel was unfaithful to God in leaving him and going after false gods. This unfaithfulness was likened to the behaviour of an unfaithful wife who leaves her husband to become a prostitute (Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 13:27; Ezekiel 16; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:13; Micah 1:7). Israel’s idolatry, besides being spiritual prostitution, involved physical prostitution. In many of the idolatrous religions, prostitutes were available for sexual rites that people believed gave increase in family, crops, flocks and herds (1 Kings 14:23-24; Jeremiah 3:6-10; Jeremiah 13:22-27; Hosea 4:7-14; Amos 2:7-8; see BAAL).

God’s prophets sometimes likened political and commercial agreements between Israel and pagan nations to acts of prostitution. Such agreements were often unions of shame designed solely for personal advantage. They ignored God’s standards and defied his authority (Isaiah 23:17; Nahum 3:4). This anti-God spirit, symbolized by the prostitute, found its expression in New Testament times in the Roman Empire. It will find its fullest expression in the days of the world’s final great rebellion prior to the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 17).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Prostitution'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/p/prostitution.html. 2004.

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