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5 Reasons Christians Should Talk About Prostitutes and Polygamists

Categories Old Testament

9780310518471Let’s talk about sex. The deviant, Old Testament kind.

As in prostitution, polygamy, rape, adultery, and incest.

If you’re blushing, you’re not alone. By the looks of it most of the Bride is too, given how little we talk about sexual sins and sex in general. David Lamb wants to change this.

“The church needs to talk about sex more,” writes Lamb in his new book Prostitutes and Polygamists, “not just the ideal but also the reality.” (19)

And the reality is sex is broken. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be at many levels. Which is why the Bible talks about it so much, and why we should too:

“The Bible gives us no excuse for being reluctant to talk about sexual sins, since it has no problem sharing the worst sins ever committed by some of the holiest people who ever lived…” (14) including sexual ones.

This is one reason why Christians should talk about prostitutes and polygamists. Here are four more.

1) The Culture is Obsessed

“If the church is sexually avoidant, our culture is sexually obsessive.” (18)

The themes of sexuality and sexual activity a few decades ago were the exception; today they’re the norm, and normative. Lamb cites Sex and the City, Modern Family, and Arrested Development as examples. Which is why the church needs to talk about sex more, both its ideal and reality.

“When the church whispers about sex and the culture yells about it, whose voice is going to be heard?” (19) Whose voice are your children and grandchildren, neighbors and church members going to hear?


2) The Bible Talks About it—All the Time

Have you noticed how often the Bible talks about sex? Lamb does, suggesting the Bible is a bit R-rated:

  • Leviticus and Deuteronomy legislate regarding sexual relations;
  • Numbers 25 narrates how Israelite-Moabite sex led to idolatry;
  • Judges records Samson’s failed first marriage, prostitute encounters, and Delilah sex;
  • In 1 Samuel we discover Samuel’s father is a polygamist and Eli’s sons are sleeping with prostitutes at the tabernacle’s entrance.

If the divinely inspired biblical authors thought the stories were worthy of being recorded for posterity, then we shouldn’t ignore them…If we never teach about the polygamists, prostitutes, rapists, adulterers, and Sodomites of the Old Testament, then we don’t really believe Paul [and 2 Timothy 3:16], at least not when it comes to these ‘love’ stories. (21-22)

3) We Discover a Gracious-Behaving God

Not only do we discover in the Bible humans behaving badly, we discover God behaving graciously.

“When we ignore [these stories of messed-up heroes of the faith], we deny the power of God’s grace, because as human bad behavior abounds, God’s gracious behavior abounds even more.” (22)

From Abraham to Samson to David and beyond, God reveals his grace in three ways:

  1. He records the story of people with messed-up sex lives in the Bible;
  2. He invites people with sexual issues to be part of his mission;
  3. He loves people who behave badly sexually.

“Love, Old Testament style, is not just about weird human behavior, but it’s also about incomprehensible divine behavior, love toward undeserving people who screwed up and yet are still included and healed.” (23)

4) Jesus is Magnified

When we dig deeper into Jesus’ story we find something remarkable, shocking, really:

Jesus had a shockingly scandalous ancestry. Prostitutes and polygamists, rapists and adultery, incesters and Sodomites. Love, Old Testament style. All in Jesus’ family tree. (188)

Matthew’s account emphasizes sex in a particular way, naming five women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary), “all of whom have some type of sexual problem.” (24)

Then there are two men: Abraham and David, two of Jesus’ grandfathers whose sexual scandals are often overlooked. Both were polygamists and sexually scandalous.

“By teaching on these stories, we reveal an amazingly gracious God who not only can forgive scandalous sexual sins but also can work powerfully to accomplish his purposes through flawed sinners”—magnifying the person of Christ along the way. (189)

5) It’s a Natural Cross-Generational Discussion

“Despite a generational aversion to visiting the topic of the birds and the bees, the one thing that most strongly connects parents to children is sex.” (30) Which makes it a natural cross-generational discussion. Yet it doesn’t happen enough.

“According to the research, children actually do want to learn about sex from parents. The more parents discuss sex with their children, the more likely the children are to take on their parents’ sexual values.” (30)

As Lamb argued earlier, when we don’t talk about sex and the culture yells about it, whose voice are our children going to hear—and listen to? Which makes this reason a crucial reason for talking about prostitutes and polygamists.


Instead of ignoring the weird, scandalous sex stories of the Old Testament, Prostitutes and Polygamists engages, discusses, and learns from them. Read Lamb's book to help people discover God’s ideal for their lives, and his scandalous grace.

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