The Image of the Whore
One of the most detestable of attributes we have as humans is our talent to create a commodity of human beings. We trade...in ourselves. Call it slavery, call it human trafficking, call it prostitution...call it what you will. We take the thing that God has made for community and draw lines around it, objectify it and then use it, insulting both the created and the creator. Small wonder then, that the prophets should make use of these images when talking about the way Israel has taken its birthright of adoption by God and turned it into a commodity that it uses to sate its wants and desires; but what horror to read the words today (and those woven throughout God's condemnations of Israel's and Judah's sins and apostasy). It only serves to accentuate the impact that Ezekiel's message to the exiles has upon us, but it also does (and should) cause us to recoil. To see Israel and Judah anthropomorphized in such a way is scandalous; but we should be willing to accept that the horror of those images has impact for the reason that we get why this is so wrong, on all levels.
It's wrong to throw away any human being, and God reminds Israel and Judah that they were a throw-away when they were lifted up from among the nations. It's wrong to take an inheritance that offers us opportunity and grace and then turn those things into objects which we peddle for petty, personal gain and fame. It's wrong to see anyone fall into the debasement of prostitution. It's just wrong...and yet how often do we sit by and let it happen? How hard is it to find the resolve in us to break the cycles of abuse and mistreatment (of BOTH self and other) in order to make a change and help those subjected to the kind of whoredom that the prophet names to "step out of the life?"
It takes a lot: a lot of resolve, a lot of being willing to risk self for the sake of other, a lot of grace and a lot of faith to keep going when the good we would offer falls like seed upon scorched earth and fails to sprout and grow.
In reading today, I kept having images of the work that some colleagues of mine are doing among the people subject to the sex-trades to help them break the cycles of abuse and destruction that hold them in bondage. The Rev. Becca Stevens http://www.thistlefarms.org/ and the Very Rev. Mike Kinman http://magdalenestl.org/ are working with the people of their respective communities to help women emerge and grow as human beings from a place where they have been living as human commodities in the sex trade. I think as well, when they labor to help one person at a time find and reclaim her sense of self-worth, faith and hope that the harsh cycles of self-abuse in the human race itself are being broken. The fact that the prophet makes such liberal use of these images of prostitution to describe Israel's and Judah's fallen estates is evidence of the pervasive and poisonous impact the image of the whore has on us as human beings. That image has been with us down through the ages. Perhaps it is time to listen, heed, pray and act to do what we can, when we can to help abolish the ease with which these images, and the people caught in that institution, are used.
As I pray for the deliverance of the people of Israel from exile in the Bible, I am also praying actively for the emancipation of my sisters and brother in Christ who are yoked in the horror that human trafficking instills in us. May all our chains be broken, that one day there might be a time when a human being is not at risk of being turned into a commodity.