Does religion shoot itself in the foot by condemning sex and escorts?

Anti-prostitution activists cite many reasons that prostitution and escorting should be outlawed, often with many of their arguments fueled by quotations from the Bible or other religious texts. They fling judgment at sex workers through their interpretations that the Bible condemned women who sold their company with men, often mistaking the true intent of the context. Zealots are quick to place blame on women who “seduce and lure” innocent men into their “lusty lairs”, failing to realize that they defy their own gods, who made sex the ultimate driving force of history.

Paris kidnapped Helen of Troy, which led to the Trojan War. The rape of the Sabine women, the battle between Sir Lancelot and King Arthur over Guinevere and the cruelty of David toward Uriah over Bathsheba demonstrate that sex has been a compelling force for mankind since the dawn of time. Men with their primitive stimulation can easily share the blame with women, who simply learned to manipulate it.

Various misinterpretations of religion are used to discount the escort industry, along with all services included in the adult entertainment business. Here are some ways that arguments with religious foundations don’t hold up:

  • Many activists say that temple prostitution was condemned in the Bible, specifically within the book of Corinthians. Temple prostitution was labeled as a sin. That much is definitely true. However, what critics of escorting fail to realize is that temple prostitution was something entirely different than simply providing sexual pleasure to a man. Temple prostitution was considered sacred among religions throughout history. In Babylon, women came and went to and from the temples, with the expressed obligation to offer themselves to men as a way to please the gods. For instance, the Mesopotamian women believed that they were serving Aphrodite by having intercourse with strangers. They traveled to the temple, waited for a man to select them with payment and performed their sacred duty as way to worship the goddess. It was not the sexual act that draw ire of Christians, but the act of pleasing pagan gods. People who ignored Christ’s own words condemned other people for their freedom of religious expression. Eventually, most goddess temples were closed down by Constantine in the IV century AD.
  • Proponents of criminalization often say that prostitution and the entire adult industry is evil and spawns impurity. They quote from the Bible and talk about dirty thoughts entering the minds of those exposed to “such filth”. However, two notable saints from the Catholic Church born hundreds of years apart both wrote about prostitution and determined that it is a “necessary evil.” St. Thomas Aquinas said in direct reference to prostitution in his Summa Theologica:

    If you take away the sewer, the place would soon be filled with corruption.

    In the same tone, St. Augustine stated

    If prostitution were suppressed, capricious lusts would then overthrow society.

    They both concluded that because human nature is what it is, men would still covet and lust after women, whatever social norms are currently enforced. So, regardless of whether prostitution is immoral or moral, it is necessary evil and a required alternative to less desirable results.

  • God will punish prostitutes, the anti-prostitution voices say. Well, that’s blasphemy, plain and simple – these people claim to be the God, as only the God knows what he will do. Ironically, it is evidenced in their own Bible that prostitutes may be spared through leading an honest life. It’s hypocrisy that makes gods furious. Those who spout “facts” about judgment and condemnation should review the story about Rahab in the Old Testament’s Book of Joshua. The harlot Rahab, along with other brothel dwellers, offered refuge to two of Joshua’s spies during Yahweh’s attack on Jericho. The spies (considered men of God) chose the brothel to stay in instead of an inn or other place of lodging, which could lead to much speculation about their real motivations. Although Jericho was destroyed, the brothel and all the harlots were spared. God didn’t punish the harlots; he allowed them to live, recognizing that they were capable of good deeds.
  • Activists that promote the fact that Jesus thought prostitutes were impure should review the genealogy of Christ. According to reliable religious scholars, Jesus is a descendant of many women of ill repute. His long line of ancestors include: Rahab (prostitute as mentioned previously), Tamar (a prostitute who was accused of incest), Ruth (a seduction artist) and Bathsheba (an adulteress with King David). Why would Jesus condemn women very similar to those who were a part of his own family? He didn’t. Jesus accepted everyone. And despite the fact that Mary Magdalene was considered a “worldly woman”, he included her as his constant companion. Jesus preached love for everyone but painted graves.
  • Opponents should realize that the New Testament recognized prostitution as a normal activity and accepted it as long as it did not compromise a man’s honor. In most instances, those in the Bible accepted married men who wanted to have sex with unmarried women for pleasure. It did not go against any commandments, as having intercourse with unmarried women did not count as adultery. However, if a prostitute was married, this was a completely different story. It counted as adultery, since the woman belonged to another man. While common men could go about their business in this way, others who were public figures or “honorable” men with families were discouraged from this activity. It was considered dishonorable to squander patrimony, especially when it brought attention to a well-known man. Paul compelled men who held important roles to cease this type of activity immediately. But, the activity of sex with an unmarried woman, itself, was never judged. The simple act of bringing dishonor to oneself was the part that was frowned upon. This could translate to modern times by applying to both an escort and her clients.
  • Critics who say that prostitutes and escorts will go to hell for their impurities are wrong. In Matthew 21:31, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you.” He was addressing the elite of the time – the government and religious masterminds. Within Jesus’ statement, there are no ifs or buts.
  • The church has actually been a beneficiary of prostitution throughout history, despite critics indicating that the church condemns the act of premarital or unmarried sexual intercourse. During the Medieval era in Europe, the Catholic Church owned many tracks of land throughout the kingdom. The priests leased out properties to brothels or houses of prostitution. Each rental period, they collected money from the brothels, which they used to fund their churches and religious activities. New churches were built, maintained and expanded through monies earned through prostitution. Additionally, many priests learned that brothels were quite beneficial for producing vast funds for their purposes. In 1309, Bishop Johann of Strasbourg built a new brothel with his own funds in order to benefit his order, according to Andrew McCall, author of The Medieval Underworld. Arguments that condemn escorting from the church’s point of view are easily discounted when people realize that religion benefits from all the filth and lust they never cease to condemn.
  • Despite the proclamations of purity and chastity from religious leaders, all of them are human beings. According to McCall (referenced above), nearly 50 prostitutes and courtesans arrived at the Pope’s palace in 1501 for a great celebration held in honor of Pope Alexander VI. A feast and dance were held in the rooms of Cesar Borgia at the Papal Palace, where dancing occurred with the servants and others. As the party progressed, the frivolity got more exciting as the attendees stripped down naked and danced about in the buff. The Pope, the Duke and his sister Lucrezia watched with delight, according to accounts of the party. Either the Pope is a sinner and his Church is an abomination, or everyone is free to be the way they are designed. The lust is a part of the world. Accusing escort industry of creating the demand is like accusing it of creating the night.
  • While Christianity is the most cited religion for arguments against prostitution or escorting, other religions actually support its existence and celebrate sex as a form of worship and revelation:
    • Hinduism: Although considered archaic by many, the practice of hierodulic prostitution is the custom of dedicating pre-pubescent girls (often infants) from villages in ritualistic marriage to a deity or a temple. They serve male devotees as spiritual guides, dancers and vessels of pleasure. The families hope to gain favor from the gods, through food or other riches that will help them survive. Many laws have been passed from 1934 to 1988 to ban this practice, but it still continues in the regions like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Many young women are trafficked as a result, though their families were pure in their efforts to please their gods.
    • Fertility goddess celebrations are prevalent in pagan religions and other forms of worship. Eostre (a basis for Easter), Aphrodite, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Demeter, Hathor, Ishtar, Ostara and Kali are popular fertility and love goddesses that people attempt to please through indiscriminate intercourse with others. One celebration that is common for sexual intercourse between participants is the celebration of Bacchus, the Roman god of partying (grapes, wine, winemaking and general debauchery). In March, Roman women attended bacchanalia (secret ceremonies) prior to attending the real party celebrating Bacchus. According to historians, a sexual free for all would break out, as participants attempted to summon fertility through sex with others.
    • Ritualistic sex is practiced throughout the world. Whether you call it the Great Rite, Hieros Gamos, Maithuna or sex magic, sex is performed in rituals around the globe. Native American tribes, the Aztecs and Incas and pagan Europeans attempted to please their gods with intercourse as ways to encourage fertility and love and to celebrate spring and the birth of the new year. Activities involving sex with others have been around for all of humankind and are not seen as immoral or impure.
    • The Greek island of Delos (one of the most important historical, mythical and archaeological hubs in Greece) was the site of the Dionysian Mysteries, which included rituals involving intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques to remove inhibitions and societal constraints so that women and slaves (among other lower-class citizens) could open themselves up to enjoyment of the flesh and ecstasy. The god Dion was worshipped by the Greeks and Romans, and rituals featured wedding communions and feasts, orgies and every aberration of sex.

Modern critics are out of line when they suggest straight-laced norms for society, including the prohibition of escorting and pleasures of the flesh. They are wasting their lives in an attempt to direct nature – an attempt as pathetic as trying to stop a train. Sex is natural — morals are not. Sex is eternal — morals are note. Whatever hypocrites say to gain and keep power is just words in the wind.

As long as a religion admires the world as it is, there can be no conflict between the religion and escorting because men, women and their desires are natural. It’s only when greed, hypocrisy and psychopathy take reign that nature becomes the enemy. Unlike their self-proclaimed followers, neither Jesus nor Buddha nor Yahwe nor Allah have any objection to sex and escorts.