Today I want to share a YouTube video I came across about the prostitution incident involving Tamar and Judah.
This clip was done by a Hasidic Jew and he was answering the question “How could the righteous Judah solicit the services of a person he thought was a prostitute?”
Now I find this video quite interesting because the opinion he shared as a learned and religious Jew differs quite a bit from the conservative views promoted in most gentile Christian churches.
Alright, for those of you who didn’t even take the time to watch, below is an edited written excerpt containing the key points that were shared:
“Even though in America, prostitution is a big dirty word. It’s only legal in one little part of the country (referring to Reno). In Amsterdam it’s legal. It used to to be not such a dirty word before the Puritans came and started polluting this place with their beliefs. Now Judah is a prince of Israel. He’s a strong man. He’s a virile man. He’s a warrior and there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t know how to say this without upsetting anyone’s political correctness or sensitivities.
Anyway, he abducted a prostitute. There’s nothing unhealthy if you do it legally and you do it the right way. She knows what she’s doing. He knows what he’s doing. They’re consenting adults. I don’t see a problem. He saw an attractive woman. She was sitting there. He had the urge. He paid her for her services. And this is what happened. By the way, you should know this is a big thing that separates Christianity from Judaism. You’ll also see that Islam sides with Judaism on this one.”
Now I’m not saying I 100% agree with this guy’s open stance on prostitution.
However, I believe his opinion is insightful in that it pin pointedly reveals a big mindset difference between the Bible’s attitude and Western Christianity’s attitude towards sex.
Let’s face it.
When it comes to sex, the Bible is very, very graphic.
Give the Book of Solomon a read when you get a chance.
I swear if this steamy book from our Holy Scriptures was made into a movie, it would be a full blown porno flick.
The Bible simply doesn’t reflect the hyper-puritanical attitudes existent in some church groups today.
So how did the Western church develop such a negative attitude towards sex?
The answer is St. Augustine who was influenced by the philosophy of Gnosticism.
Gnostic theology teaches that the physical is evil and it has to be tortured.
Augustine took Gnosticism and tried to interpret the Bible with it.
In fact, Augustine felt that sex was so evil, he reached the point where he declined to enter into physical relations with his own wife!
In his mind, sex within marriage was something that unfortunately had to be tolerated to allow for procreation.
This is the philosophy that has infected the Western church for far too long now.
I’ve lived in Europe for two years and Asia for over 15 years now and counting.
And one thing I’ve realized is that there is a distinct cultural difference in how people view sex in some of these countries compared to the United States.
In the US, people seem to be more, hmm, it’s difficult to find the right words but I guess you could say more uptight.
I think the country Japan where I’m living now is a good point in comparison.
I remember one time I was talking with an elderly lady and she shared with me how with her permission her husband sometimes visits one of the many brothels that exist in the Tokyo area (there are tons out here).
Well, being born and raised in the United States, I was aghast!
“What?! Come again?!”
It turns out she had no problem with it.
Or on a more personal level, I remember one incident in my late teens when I was having a private heart-to-heart conversation with my dad who is Japanese (not Japanese-American, but 100%-born-and-raised-in-Japan Japanese).
I was feeling insecure and nervous about my manhood with a girlfriend I was seeing at the time and wanted some fatherly advice.
Well, he suggested I visit a brothel to get over my nervousness and become more familiar with sex.
I was actually a church-going believer at the time and was just as shocked at his suggestion then as I was when the elderly lady told me about her husband’s “extracurricular activities”.
However, in hindsight, I wonder, was my being shocked really due to a true and proper Scriptural view of human sexuality or was my shock more due to the gnostic-infested teachings (the idea that sex is evil) that the church I was attending promoted?
So again what’s my point in sharing all of this?
First, the uptight hyper-puritanical attitudes that some groups hold towards sex that we think are Biblical upon closer examination may not actually be Biblical at all.
Second, unless you are an ancient Middle Easterner who has been magically transported into our modern world via a time machine, there are many things you are not going to understand in the Scriptures unless you take the culture in the Bible into account.
Third, and this is the real challenge, when studying the Scriptures, see if you can recognize the difference between God’s eternal truths, patterns and principles APART FROM the culture in the Bible.
Once you reach that level of understanding, then you’ll be able to apply the truths of Scripture to any situation in any culture in any part of the world.
I feel this should be the goal of any studious Bible student.