Sex Work Versus The Bible

Coming Down Your Street

Working its way through the New York state legislature is a bill to legalize prostitution. It is part of an effort in at least six states (Washington and Oregon in the west, and Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York, as well as D.C. in the east) to legitimize what is now called, “sex work.” Haven’t heard of this movement? You will.


Advocates urge us to differentiate between sex trafficking (bad) and monetized favors by freely operating, consensual “sex-workers” (good). If only we can distinguish them, the reasoning goes, then the “sex industry” can become legitimate. Prostitutes and their pimps, or agents, can come out of the darkness. We can enact proper safeguards to protect the workers. Women will receive agency and life will be so much better.


From a libertarian perspective, and maybe some others, this can make sense. Why not normalize something that is going on as a huge industry anyway? Exchanging sexual pleasure for money is the world’s “oldest profession,” a moniker now owned by these activists with pride. If it is what people want to do, and they are going to do it anyway, isn’t it better to make it safe and legal? I say that you will hear more and more of this because the country is poised, morally, to accept such an argument. To much of the population it will start to make sense.


The Christian, if I may presume to speak as a representative, must demur. Because of the Bible’s language about the bedroom.


Clinging More Closely

The book of Genesis introduces the topic of physical intimacy between two people in Genesis 2:24:


“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”


The word for “hold fast to,” which used to be translated “cleave to,” is the Hebrew word,  דָבַק . When a husband and wife unite, they are joined in a profound unity that cannot be, must not be, easily severed. This is the language of covenant commitment. The author (repeated in the NT, e.g., Mark 10:8-9) is using a covenantal term used elsewhere to express the way the Israelites were to cleave, with continual loyalty, to the Lord Who secures them:

  • Deuteronomy 10:20- You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.

  • Deuteronomy 11:22 – For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.

  • Deuteronomy 13:4 – You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

  • Deuteronomy 30:20 – I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

  • Joshua 22:5 – Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

  • Joshua 23:8-9 – but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. 9 For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day.


Just starting out in Genesis, there are four—count ‘em four—different covenants God makes with people in this book. What does that tell us about the first ‘holding fast’ the author introduces in this book (Gen 2:24)? It tells us that marital union, including the “becoming one flesh” part, signifies and celebrates God’s relationship to His people.



A Deep Meaning to the Act

The gendered relationship touches a deep meaning in the physical act: uniting covenant commitment. Just as a husband steadfastly unites w/his wife in lifelong marriage, God unites w/His people in steadfast love. Physical joining made possible in the creation of gender bespeaks God’s covenant with us, characterized by permanence. The genders lock. And there is no key to unlock this lock. It is like child window-guards in New York City apartments. Once they are installed, there are no screw drivers with which to get them out. They don’t come out without destroying the window. That is the intent of physical intimacy between a man and woman. He is always there for us. He never lets us down.  And He secures us as we make a home in our hearts for Him.


Note how this idea is the exact opposite of “sex-work,” which makes physical intimacy a business transaction. The whole point is to intentionally and specifically require no commitment beyond the act whatsoever.  A lot is lost in this sad re-conception, which will further degrade the human experience as it cheapens the gift given to connect us.




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