Friends With Prostitutes

rahabWe’ve been talking about the prostituted woman, Rahab, and her encounter with the two Jewish spies, and what this story teaches us about our part in God’s Friendship Quest

I love the fact that the very first “convert” in the Promised Land was an idolatrous prostitute! If that doesn’t show us something about God’s wide and wooly welcome, I don’t know what does. Rachel Held Evans said, “The Gospel isn’t offensive for whom it leaves out but for who it lets in!”

I’m sure glad he let me in.

As I said before I don’t think the scouts went to Rahab’s house to buy sex. Maybe they thought they’d blend in better at a house of ill-repute. With the male foot traffic in and out of her house, two more would raise no immediate suspicion within the community.

Innocent motives notwithstanding, what would the guys back at the camp think when they told them where they had held up? What would the elders of the people say about their accommodations? Worse, what would the wife think? And what about Joshua? I’m sure he didn’t send them out with orders to hide in a brothel! That said, it doesn’t seem like they were too worried about appearances. They needed Rahab as much as she needed them.

Jesus hung out with all manner of immoral people, prostitutes included, and though he was criticized for it, he either blew it off or used their objections as a teaching moment. He told his critics that he was in the hunt for the sick instead of the strong and that his gospel is most effective with the desperate, like the poor and prostituted. The same should be true for us, don’t you think?

We can’t very well reach Rahabs if we let our revulsion for their lifestyles trump our compassion for them as fellow beloveds. Jesus’ way is empathy over aversion for the least, the last, and the lost among us!

The prostituted women that I meet in San Francisco’s skid row are vacuous souls contained in emaciated bodies desperate for a fix, bear no resemblance to the high priced “escorts” you see on TV. With the rest of their available veins collapsed, I’ve seen them sitting on the sidewalk shooting up in their necks! I pray to see what Jesus sees, feel what he feels, and follow him into the lives of people who need him most!

I have a number of drug dealer friends here in the city. Of course I object to their occupation. They contribute to the degrading of people that God loves. I hate what they do, but my friends and I do genuinely love them and try to convey God’s love to them as Rahabs in our sphere of influence. Their walled Jericho, pretending to be a safe haven notwithstanding, is actually a prison. We strive to communicate to them a way out. Of course we’re offended by their lifestyles, yet we know that they are tangled up souls for whom Jesus bled, and for whom he continues to suffer the heartbreak of unrequited love.

I live four blocks away from the heart of the Castro District, famous for its thriving LGBT community. One of the gay male baristas at the coffee shop I frequent sometimes wears a mini skirt that he bought at a teen girls store. (He told me this after I had mistakenly referred to it as a Scottish kilt!) The park across from my apartment is the gathering place for both the transgender and dikes annual parades held on Gay Pride weekend. I admit that I’m repelled by it all, but my foremost instinct over the tens of thousands of confused Rahabs in my neighborhood is heartache.

John Wesley shared from his own experience with the most marginalized of his day:

“A poor wretch cries to me for alms: I look and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has an immortal spirit, made to know and love and dwell with God to eternity: I honour him for his Creator’s sake. I see through all these rags that he is purpled over with the blood of Christ. I love him for the sake of his Redeemer. The courtesy therefore which I feel and show toward him is a mixture of the honour and love which I bear to the offspring of God, the purchase of his Son’s blood, and the candidate for immortality. This courtesy let us feel and show toward all.”

Next time we’ll look at humanizing of the dehumanized and mutuality with the marginalized…

There’s a chapter in The Other End of the Dark called “Skid Row SF” where I share a few Rahab-like stories…

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