Prostitutes, harlots and the Church
The Church is supposed to be a sanctuary for anyone who walks in. There should be a level of comfort and understanding for the 'whosoever will' who come seeking solace. However, when it comes on to certain walk-ins such as prostitutes, 'loose' women and homosexuals, there appears to be a sort of disdain exhibited by some members.
Prostitutes who have seen the error of their ways, or women who have been involved with multiple partners, are viewed with wariness, particularly by women in the Church.
Pastor Darren McKoy, national youth director of Church of God in Jamaica, weighed in on the issue. He suggested that if one uses the biblical definition of a harlot, it can become tricky, and you may just end up finding prostitutes in the Church.
"If we were to go strictly based on the idea that giving sex in exchange for money makes you a prostitute, then I would say we can easily find them any and everywhere. Using that definition can make some businesswomen prostitutes, it could make wives prostitutes (depending on their purpose in the marriage), so many women could have been placed in the category," he said.
McKoy made it clear that being a prostitute is much more than a sex-for-cash exchange, pointing out that it goes a lot deeper than that.
"Within the Corinthian church at the time, they were what you call temple prostitutes, who would give themselves over to priests. Here we clearly see a purpose, a role, a responsibility, and the definition of them being consecrated for this act would not then necessarily put church women in that category," he shared.
ACCEPTING MONEY EARNED FROM PROSTITUTION
In spite of the Church's objections to their lifestyle, many still accept the money earned from the profession into the collection plate. Mckoy sees nothing wrong with that as he said from conversations with many 'women of the night', roughly 75 per cent said it is not something they are comfortable doing, but see no other option for sending their children to school and taking care of them.
"If the Church is against prostitution, then that's what they should be against, the act of prostitution and what it means for abusing the temple that God has given. Should the Church be against their money if they choose to bring it in? No!" Mckoy said.
Expressing empathy for those caught in situations such as that, he said if a prostitute genuinely approaches him about giving back to the Church, he would use the opportunity as a means of finding a better way for them to make money.
"If my church runs a basic school and a child's parent is a prostitute and I am aware of this, as a Christian principal, knowing that this basic school is a part of the church's ministry, shouldn't I take their school fee? Or should I refuse it and send them to another school? Think on these things," he said.
For McKoy, the Church should abandon its stand-offish attitude and be more active in reaching out to these women.
"The reality, however, is that many churches are not at that place. There are a few I know that do engage prostitutes as a part of their ministry, but interestingly, this is in the minority. Contrary to popular belief, prostitutes are people, too, and they do deserve the same salvation experience that we preach about at crusades," he said, adding that church members need to get their hands dirty and be willing to sit on the sidewalk and have conversations with these women.
"Going to the highways and byways is not just preaching from a distance about salvation, but meeting people where they are. These prostitutes are at Ripon Road, 'back road', New Kingston, etc. That's where we should be," he said.
Addressing the scorn women sometimes exhibit towards prostitutes, McKoy said although they don't see themselves doing it, they should exercise a little understanding and not be judgemental.
"They are not thinking with a Christian mindset, so it is justified, because it does pay the bills, and how dare you as a Christian come to them empty-handed, telling them about Jesus will provide. In their minds, prostitution makes money a lot faster than Jesus does," he said.
Another reason McKoy attributes to some Christian women's negative attitudes towards prostitutes is their own secret fear that their spouses could be lured.
"However, that should not be the case for these simple reasons: you must have confidence in who you are as a wife and what you bring to the table. A wife must be so confident in who she is that she will not be daunted by the idea that their husband can be lured. You must not have a pre-conceived notion about this woman and who she is, because you don't know her story. As a Christian, we must be willing to extend grace and love before we begin to cast stones," he said.