“And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot Me, declares the Lord.” Hosea 2:13 (ESV)
As I have been studying Hosea, I have discovered that it is a lovely, intensely metaphorical book. I have also realized that prostitution runs rampant through our churches. (I am not thinking about prostitution in the literal sense, though I am sure that, unfortunately, the church has some of that going on as well. Trafficking is a vast, massive issue. But I digress.)
We “prostitute” our lives and time for the sake of likes on social media, getting fit, the pursuit of beauty, hobbies, friends, and even family. We are married to Christ yet seek other lovers. These other lovers are idols in our lives. As I was reading Hosea and learning about how Israel stepped away from God and sunk deeply into idolatry, I was convicted about my idols: my writing career, technology, social media, pursuing beauty, desiring a clean home, and striving for my children to be perfect. If there is something we are willing to give ourselves up for, it must be something we place higher than God. Placing something higher than God is idolatry no matter how you slice it. Idolatry turns into prostitution as we sell ourselves to our idol. Some seemingly valiant components in our lives can quickly turn to idolatry. For example, if we become obsessed with our kids to the point of placing their wants before our heavenly Father’s, that is idolatry masquerading as being a “good parent”.
“My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.” Hosea 4:12 (ESV)
Other idols show up in many forms. For example, relationships. Don’t prostitute yourself for a boyfriend or a girlfriend or even a spouse– giving all of your time and effort to that person. God deserves and desires the first fruits of your time. Don’t prostitute your time for a hobby – for example, writing in my case. If you are obsessing about it and pouring all of your effort into it, with every word you are selling yourself away to foolish, useless drivel. I am not in any way saying that hobbies and such cannot glorify God’s Kingdom. After all, that is my main goal for writing! However, I am saying that if it becomes all-consuming, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your motives and use of your time.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8 (ESV)
Many people prostitute their purity, dignity, and obedience away for premarital sex. They are telling God, “Fulfilling my physical desires is more important to me than obeying you and trusting you to know what is best for me.” Some try to justify it by saying that they are married in God’s eyes because of various reasons. The truth is, they aren’t married. No matter how you slice it. Christ said, “… Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” (Mark 12:16). This can also apply to laws in general- including marriage. If the law says that you need a paper to be legally married, then you need the paper. Otherwise, you are not married. God doesn’t make exceptions for his children. He doesn’t bend the rules for His kids. He is unchanging. He does not change for us, we are called to change for Him. (Romans 12:2)
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 (ESV)
“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 (ESV)
The same goes for every type of sin. People prostitute their time spent on obsessing over their looks or popularity- vanity and pride. They are saying to God, “I know that You have told me not to think highly of myself, but the world tells me to place ultimate value upon myself. So I am choosing to side with the world on this topic because it is convenient for me.”
Drunkenness. “Lord, I know that You have told me not to indulge in much wine and that drunkenness is a sin, but right now I am willing to prostitute my life up to my depression by drinking and ‘getting away from it all’ for a bit. I have to think of myself during this time.” (Ephesians 5:18)
Murder (Exodus 20:13). Adultery (Proverbs 6:32). Gluttony (Proverbs 23:20-21). The list goes on. We indulge in these things and “cheat on our Husband” for our own sakes. We prostitute our dignity, lives, relationships with God, everything, for our fleshly desires. A cheap payment, indeed.
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5 (ESV)
Just like with Hosea and his wife: although he was a loving, providing husband, she cheated on him and chose to go back to prostitution multiple times. That is how Israel treated God. And that is how we treat the Lord today. We as Christians leave our first love to indulge in the lusts of the flesh.
What is absolutely incredible to me is that Gomer went back to prostitution. Prostitution. I don’t know about you, but I think of prostitution as being something that nobody would ever choose to turn to but only be forced into. It baffles me that Gomer would leave her adoring, providing husband to go back to a filthy, abusive lifestyle that is horrible for her. What a parallel to the way God feels about us. I will use the example of pornography.
When a person begins dabbling in pornography, I believe many are turned off by the sight of it at first- disgusted at such a dark, twisted distortion of how sacred, marital sex should be. However, even if they don’t enjoy it at first, the darkness pulls at them, summoning them back. It may be an acquired taste, but eventually they are addicted to what once repulsed them. When God invites them back into His loving arms, the addicted person pleads with God to allow them to continue indulging in harmful, abhorrent sin. It is as if they are begging someone to allow them to bludgeon themselves with stones! “Please, allow me to continue inflicting harm on myself. I know what is best for me!”
The point is, disciple of Christ, God is your Hosea and you are His Gomer. Know that He can satisfy. Don’t return to your idols. Don’t prostitute your lives for worthless sin that will never quench your thirst. Come home. Hold tight to your Heavenly Husband because that idol you are begging God to allow you to have is just another filthy john in another worthless brothel.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 (ESV)