Prostitution, providing sexual services for payment, has existed since Bible times. It has been called “the world’s oldest profession.” This degrading practice reduces the intimacy of sexuality to a commodity that corrupts all involved. It is a destructive sin.

The Bible tells the stories of a number of prostitutes, including the Canaanite Rahab (Josh. 2; 6:17-25; Matt. 1:5; Heb. 11:31), who put her faith in God, joined the Israelite community, and became an ancestor of Jesus. The Bible frequently uses prostitution as a metaphor for unfaithfulness to God (Jer. 3:6; Ezek. 16:15-26; Nah. 3:4). In the apostle John’s vision, the end-time union of church and state is depicted as a prostitute (Rev. 17).

The Bible describes the dangers of illicit sex in strong terms: “A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful” (Prov. 23:27-28, NLT). The apostle Paul wrote, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, NIV). Paul urges us to “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Prostitution is an enterprise which exploits and traffics its workers. Around the world, millions of people turn to prostitution as a means of survival. Often they are forced into it by someone else who continues to manipulate, control, and abuse them. Many are mere children. If you are currently involved in prostitution or know someone who is—please be aware that help is out there. Organizations exist that rescue sex workers and assist them in starting new lives.

Jesus always extended grace to those, such as the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4), with checkered sexual pasts. Regardless of current struggles, God offers power to move on and change your life. Regardless of your history, God offers hope, healing, and forgiveness.