Contend Earnestly: Playing the Whore

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Playing the Whore


With all this talk about coarse language and taking a look at the biblical usage of coarse language in the prophetic books, it has made me come face to face with some pretty powerful passages. Just as I feel sometimes that we have heard the Gospel so much that it becomes like oxygen and loses its awe, so do I feel as though we have heard the people of Israel mentioned as a harlot so often, we forget this abominable name and the reason behind the name that is used so often to describe idolaters.

I will tell you that I am going to show some pretty coarse messages in the Bible from here on out so if you are uncomfortable with this language please don't read further. I know this is kind of like telling you NOT to think of a pink elephant, but at as Pilate said to his demise I will say the same, "I wash my hands of this."

We find the usage of this term "harlot", most poignantly, used of Israel in Ezekiel 16. I think harlot is a nice term that makes us not think of the complete abhorrence this term is supposed to convey. Maybe it would be better served to use some contemporary terms so you can see the disgust God has on us when we are idolaters. Some terms that might be better served would be whore, slut, skank, hooch, ho, tramp or hooker. In the "urban dictionary" one definition is exactly what I was thinking:

One of the female species that sleeps around. She is really a slut, but goes by harlot to save her own reputation .

I feel like we as Christians like to use the word harlot instead of the word that means more disgust to us, like whore or slut. Harlot probably carried more meaning and disgust back in the day, but for me it just doesn't carry the weight of this passage.

Continuing. Ezekiel 16 starts off by God wanting to make known to Jerusalem her abominations. God wants to make sure that there is no mincing of words, no second guessing, no questions in regards to the hatred God has towards Jerusalem being a whore and a slut to other gods.

The way that God does this is to first show Jerusalem who they were from their birth, how worthless they were and how the world could care less about them:

As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.
Ezekiel 16:4,5


This is how God found Jerusalem. Is this not how He found us as well? We are told in 1 Peter 2:10 that we were once not a nation, not a people, not a priesthood. When God found us, we are told that we were haters of God, children of wrath, sons of the devil and with absolutely no hope. Even so, God elected us to heir ship with His Son. God shows this redemption in Ezekiel 16:6

When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’

Is this not the same as God showing us in Colossians 2:13 what He did for us?


When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,



God is showing Jerusalem, and in the end us, where He has not only found us lying in our blood, squirming without hope, but He also found us as we were left to die as if our mothers conceived us on the street and left. God is showing truly how hopeless we were. We were lying like a small newborn baby, crying without hope in our own blood on the streets with onlookers scoffing at us. Yet, God saw us (Read Ezekiel 16:7-14)and picked us up, cleansed us, adorned us with jewels and gave us heir ship on the thrown.

How did Jerusalem respond? By being a slut, skank and whore to the other dead, lifeless gods. How specific does God get in this description?

You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry.
Ezekiel 16:25

This is not speaking of the "escorts" in the paper only affordable to the rich business man, this is speaking of a "$1 whore." They don't care what you look like, how much money you have, if you use a condom or what your health issues are. They just want your nickel and they will do anything for it.

You uncomfortable yet? Good. This is how God wants us to understand what it means to be a whore for idols.


What do you love more than God? What eisegesis do you put on Scripture to describe God in ways that are not His true attributes? I used to love money, and still do at times, more than my God. I used to love my reputation, my family and my friends more than God. Are you afraid to speak the truth about God to other people? You make them and their thoughts of you and idol over your God. When you do this, and when I do this, I am a whore.

How can we ever do this to a God that picked us up out of our own blood to clean us and make us heirs to the thrown? How can we not live a Cross centered life in humility? How is this possible?

What happens when we are whores for idols? God says simply in
Ezekiel 16:26

...make me angry

The scary thing is that in this anger God says that He delivered up the Israelites to their desires, does this not sound a lot like Romans 1? The scary part is maybe some reading this are not saved and God will turn you over to your idols and the desires of your whoredom without the possibility of salvation.

When going through this text it again reminds me of the complete honor, adoration and gratitude through worship and service that my God deserves. Above that, He deserves this, and Him alone!

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:26


I write this post to show the crassness of God when He really wants to get a point across to show His love and our failures. This crassness didn't just stop at His words but also in His actions. Sin was so deep and so nasty that even our righteous deeds are said to be like throwing a bloody tampon at God and acting as though we are giving Him a gift. (Isaiah 64:6) Our gift to God is a dirty, smelly, bloody tampon rag and God's gift to us was His pure, undefiled, perfect, almighty Son.

The question is: Are you a whore or a disciple?

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
Isaiah 53:4,5,10a




14 comments:

Bob said...

When using the "hard" scripture to convey a message in proper context there is no problem. However, when the teacher starts mixing his own foul language soup to make God's point, he's on very shakey ground. The scripture is strong enough to stand on its own without man's help. God makes his own points.
This continued obsession with who can find the most offensive language seems to be just as revealing as those comments on Steve Camps's site. If strong language is your thing, take a look at Fred Phelps site, he does it in context.

Seth McBee said...

Bob...

I need to ask a question before I answer your comment...

Do you believe that in this post I was trying to "help God out" with the words I used?

If so...

Know that I took the original word for "harlot" which means "whore." or to be a "cult prostitue." It is also used to "whore yourself to other gods" in Ex 34:16...

Also, part of exegesis is to give the reader the understanding of the text, that was what I was trying to convey in this post. The understanding of the original intent. This is what Ezra did in Nehemiah 8:8

...translating (or explaining) to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

Barry said...

bob,

Just for some clarification.
What do you mean by "foul" language? Actually how do you define "offensive" language. Some people might be offended by the use of the word crap. Unless you move into cursing, cussing or the vulgar, I think foul or offensive could be a personal conviction or at the least a matter of manners or couth.
I haven't heard of Fred Phelps, who is he?

Jake said...

Fred Phelps is the man who leads the group that goes around the country picketing the funerals of soldiers with signs that say "God hates fags." We had them come to a funeral here in Lincoln last year. My local church actually prayed, in our main gathering, that God would silence them. They said it was the first time they'd ever prayed against another church. I remember thinking that calling Phelp's group a church is an insult to the word "church."

On the topic of offensive language- I've struggled with this issue. I feel like what is and isn't offensive is mostly, if not entirely, defined by culture. I feel like the scriptures give us clear guidelines on what should characterize our speech, but it never says, "Do not say sh__." In fact, as has been mentioned elsewhere, many have argued that Paul uses the Greek equivalent to that very word in one of his epistles.

So the question for me comes here- Is there anything wrong about using words you can't say on TV if the context allows for it or the idea begs strong language? Put another way- Was Tony Campolo wrong to say, "Millions of people are starving and the American church isn't doing sh__! And the worst part is, most of you are more upset I just said "sh__" than you are that millions of people are starving."

Thoughts? (Also, and perhaps this will help, I understand the Scriptures to be giving us guidelines and principles on how to live our lives within culture, but I would have a very hard time understanding them as hard, concrete rules meant to be applied in the same way in all contexts.)

Seth McBee said...

bob...first if you are any kind of proponent of Fred Phelps you need to repent and call on the name of the Lord. Again, with comments over internet can't tell when someone is being serious, so if it was a joke (which I hope it was), then no offense taken...

Jake...

I do agree that language has much to do with culture. Just look at Luther's language, very strong and crass.

I try and not use any words that aren't allowed on TV. I also am not saying that just because it IS allowed on TV that I can now use that word, but I think it is a guide to aid us in which words we SHOULDN'T use. If mainstream culture views the words as wrong, and I know I am walking a fine line here, then I would be hard pressed using those words.

But, as you can see from this post, if the Bible specifically uses words, like whore, I am not going to shy away from the words of the Lord.

Jake said...

But I don't think mainstream culture is the standard for our behavior. One certainly wouldn't argue that in terms of sexual morality, so why would we argue that way with what words are and are not appropriate?

As I was saying above, I think we need to be very careful about how we evaluate the moral teachings of scripture. Yes, there are some that are concrete, and do not flex from culture to culture- not killing, not sleeping w/ someone who isn't your spouse, etc. But I think even there, it's in the name of something greater. We don't refrain from extra-marital sex for the sake of abstaining. We abstain for the sake of God's glory, the good of the other person, and our own good.

So in the area of language- Don't the same standards apply? What is best for the glory of God and the good of the other must take precedence over all else? Well, what if saying words like, "darn," "gosh," or "crud," actually imper our ability to relate to a person? To certain groups, using "crud" or even "crap" instead of "shit" comes off as self-righteous and an implicit judgment of them for using "shit." Please understand I'm not saying every Christian should start using profanity. All I'm arguing is that our language must be appropriate to the context in which we live. For hundreds of years that has meant a certain standard that made certain words taboo. But in the emerging culture developing before us (one in which I find myself immersed being on a college campus and studying English), the use of such words is not a stumbling block to others. And in some extreme cases the failure to use such words actually is! I think this is one of those areas that falls under "being all things to all men." That doesn't mean we begin thoughtlessly swearing, when I'm with friends from church or family I wouldn't swear. However, when I'm spending time with someone from an English class who I'm trying to get to know, I might.

For example, if we were talking about the issue of self-righteousness (which is often brought up in connection with religious discussions) and I want to make the point that whatever good in me is a work of grace remarkably brought about by God in the life of a pathetic sinner, how should I say that? "Man, sometimes I sin really bad." "Sometimes I can be a jerk." Or "Sometimes I can be a real a__h___." I can tell you the one that will be the most authentic and connect the most with 99% of English majors is that last one.

Well, this is getting long. Put shortly, I think our language must be loving and used as a tool to glorify God and relate to others. I just happen to be of the opinion that sometimes words considered profane by some in our culture might be useful (though I'm reluctant to say "necessary" due to the fact that the conscience of some would not permit them to use such words, which is something that is between them and God) toward that end.

Does that make sense? I think we're on roughly the same page here, although you're in a much more difficult situation being a father and youth pastor, both of which demand a much higher standard for our communication. (lol, 7th grade boy: "Hey mom, guess what our youth pastor said tonight?!")

Barry said...

That last line made me laugh. Thanks Jake.

Ah. Now I remember who Phelps is. His wife came into the news faster than he did. I would not consider them a church but an organization of hatred. From what I've seen they aren't calling for repentence from this country they are only creating hatred. Although they (Phelps' church) aren't using vulgar language. It's what they are saying I would consider a great offense to God and His own. I no longer wonder why God allows the depraved sinner to continue to live but why He allows someone like Phelps to continue to live and completely undermine the gospel by their behavior. It is indeed a good thing to pray against them.

Barry said...

BTW. Jake, I currently work in Lincoln. I live in Wahoo. We should get together sometime. I'll leave you a comment at your site.

Seth McBee said...

Jake.
You bring up great points...ones I will need to pray over. Like you said, and I believe, some words and language just isn't concrete in the Bible.

Again, I wonder how many were offended with my post and will never read again? I don't know, but what I do know is I did not try and "stretch" the text in any way. This topic is hot right now and it is hot because there is no 11th commandment telling us all the words that we shouldn't use for all eternity...

But, we must, in all we do, give glory to our God. (1 Cor 10:31) I guess my life should be defined by this verse as I search the Scriptures in my orthodoxy and live them out in my orthopraxy.

And your last line...been there done that...lol...not fun...that is why I record my sermons now and put them up on the web...both for defense of myself and keep me and the doctrines I preach accountable.

Jake said...

Barry- It's interesting to me that no one thinks Phelps uses profanity. If you study the origin of the word "faggot" as a slang term for homosexual, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a more hateful word in the English language. Yet for some reason, the larger culture does not seem to consider "fag" a profane word. Personally, I find that word far more offensive than many (though not all) words frowned upon by our culture.

Jake said...

Oh, and yeah, that'd be fun to get together. But it'll have to be in the next couple weeks because I'm leaving for Zambia on June 11th (two weeks from Monday).

Seth- lol, I spent 4 months working in youth ministry and had stuff like that happen. Part of the problem was that I was starting to speak to jr. high kids around the same time I was getting into Driscoll.

It wasn't long before I was talking about Christians with no pants on... in front of the jr. high group of the largest evangelical church in town. Remarkably, I didn't hear any objections from parents, just some of the home schooled kids... lol.

Wise choice to record though, it protects you and hopefully also can help you improve as a communicator :).

Bob said...

Seth, if you had read my post, it's not likely you would have concluded that I endorse Phelps or that I was saying that you were "speaking for God". Neither is true. You seem anxious to impute to me things I haven't said. Perhaps it is you who should repent and re-study Ex. 20:16.

Seth McBee said...

bob...seriously?

Did you read my comments? I said in the first one that I didn't know what you meant by Fred Phelps...so I wasn't saying that you endorsed him...read again...

the second comment I again, said that I was asking a question and then answering just in case those were your conclusions...if they were not all you had to do was comment and clarify...

this is why I said in my first comment about Phelps that sometimes it is hard to be clear or understand someone's comments over the internet (comments or email). Especially since I don't even know you, your convictions or personality.

YOur last comment would have been fine to clarify if it wasn't for that silly Ex 20:16 suggestion at the end...

remember...I don't know you or what you stand for...

Just come back on and say, "I don't stand for Phelps or mean that you were speaking for God" and that would have been cool...

Take a deep breath and know that you get to know a lot more about me through my posts and you are a bit of a mystery since I don't have any website/blog to visit of yours.

I hope you keep coming back so that we can interact some more...

Have a great weekend and hope your Lord's Day goes well.

Josh said...

Seth said:This topic is hot right now and it is hot because there is no 11th commandment telling us all the words that we shouldn't use for all eternity...:


We do not need a list of words. It is culturally driven. We know what words are acceptable and which are not in general conversation. If you don't say them in Church or at a bible meeting in a general conversation then we have the answer.

There is also context. Socially and literally.

I think the whole swearing thing should not be downplayed or overlooked. People that respond to the gospel want to change.

I watch my language closer in Church than I do with say you or Ponter.

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