2015 Lent 13

Jeremiah 3:6-18

Speaking of prostitution . . .

Today’s one of those days I really don’t want to keep up with my Lenten discipline of a daily post on the Old Testament passage from the Episcopal daily office lectionary.  For today’s reading likens the rebellious people of Israel and Judah to prostitutes.

Prostitution is one of those topics that makes me squirm a little bit.  I don’t like to think about it.  I don’t like to talk about it.  But it is one of the oldest professions in the world; and it will undoubtedly continue till the end of the ages.  It is with us, in other words.  We probably should think about it and discuss it then.

Thankfully, in recent times the world is discussing it more and more openly.  We’ve begun to realize as a global community that prostitution most often is just the symptom of a much more significant disease.  We’ve become increasingly aware of human trafficking.

A shout out here to a friend who has recently answered the call to get off his comfortable, American behind and go into the throes of the sex-trade in Bangkok.  Let’s call him Benito.

I’ve seen video footage shot by Benito–bravely!–which records a middle-aged man buying a child, a girl maybe nine years old, for perverted purposes; and walking her down a crowded main street to some unspecified destination.  Everyone who passes this man and child along the way either doesn’t know, perhaps thinking he’s a father or relative; or doesn’t care.

Benito, who was already taking his life into his hands by shooting the video in the first place, unfortunately, was powerless to do anything about it.  In another video he shows a boneyard, the place where those who fight the Thai sex trade and lose end up, violently murdered.

A fight against such wickedness has begun, thanks to Benito and courageous people like him.  Still, we have only begun to scratch with our fingernails the iron surface!

At least the world is starting to know.

On another part of the globe, in Sweden, prostitution has almost faded out of society completely over the last fifteen years.  Thanks to some wise folks in government, laws made in 1999 both outlawed the buying of sex and legalized the selling of it.  In other words, by legalizing prostitution it has almost disappeared.  Here’s the rationale:

“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”

Does this rationale sound counterintuitive?  Yet it’s working!  World, take note!  (See http://justicewomen.com/cj_sweden.html for a full write up.)

Still, much as the world is taking note of trafficking, Jeremiah has another picture in mind.  The rebellious sisters, Israel and Judah, have willfully left a functional life for a dysfunctional one.  They were loved and provided for; and they thumbed their noses at this life thinking that they knew better.  They became prostitutes not because they were victims of any sort but because they liked living a promiscuous life.

In this sense, Jeremiah portrays them more like predators.  So, I wonder, is it time to change the metaphor?

What if we called faithless Israel and Judah brothers who went into the trafficking trade together, who kidnapped innocent women and children and mercilessly sold them to the highest bidder, and who brutally murdered anyone trying to stop them?

Got the picture?

Now, what if you were called to challenge those faithless brothers not just to stop their hideous crimes but to repent, to come back into the family fellowship?  What if you were called actually to love them?  Could you do it?

That’s exactly what Jeremiah was called to do.

And that’s exactly what my friend Benito is doing today.

Godspeed, Benito!

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