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If you’re a Christian who thinks it’s wrong to be a sex-worker, here’s a counter-reason you probably didn’t consider:

Jesus is a whore.

Terms chosen to explain the deeper spiritual meaning of the crucifixion are consistently transactional.  Christian theologies explicitly state that our sins were all paid for by Christ’s physical body.  This isn’t an accident.  It’s an accurate throwback to stark facts concerning Calvary.

For thirty pieces of silver, Christ was kissed and stripped.  His naked body provided entertainment to voyeuristic strangers.  If you think that isn’t like sex-work because it doesn’t sound sexy to you, I can assure you that the Romans thought differently.  Public entertainment, including executions, were expected to be sexual.  The Latin word for a gladiator-trainer was the same as the word for a pimp, and gladiators were classed the same as prostitutes under Roman law.  Colosseum games included sexual exploits.  Political dissidents were crucified naked specifically as a form of sexual humiliation.  The crowd at Christ’s feet were getting off on it.

People are still are getting off on it.  Don’t Google Loadstar, Him or I saw Jesus Die, but do believe me when I tell you – there is such a thing as crucifixion porn.  And if you’ve never seen a crucifix in Church where Jesus didn’t have at least a chiseled six-pack, you might want to ask yourself why.

Now you’ll argue that Jesus can’t be a whore because he wasn’t the one getting paid.  He didn’t take the silver and his weren’t the sins forgiven.  But this has frequently been the case for prostitutes with pimps, with family in debt, and whose work went to feed their own children.  None of these circumstances prevent people from being labeled sex-workers.

Also, if you’re Catholic, you believe that Christ’s literal flesh is still yours to feast upon.  His body pays your share in eternal life on an ongoing basis.  If the transaction is not voluntary on his end, the Church should consider itself a predator.  Bad for optics, if you still want to deny Christ’s whoredom, is the literal collection of cash before the Eucharistic service.  Also not helping your case – the persistent, soft-spoken comparison of Communion to sex itself.  First Eucharist has often been related to a first passionate kiss.  Little girls waiting to receive it are dressed in wedding-bright white.

If none of that is convincing, I direct your attention to the only story in the bible where Jesus definitely speaks to a prostitute.  This story can only be found in the gospel of Luke (7:36-50).  (Other gospels tell a story that similarly involve a woman with an alabaster jar, but no allusions to prostitution.  John’s story identifies this woman as Mary Magdalene, which is a good case for the Mary-was-a-hooker narrative you’ll hear some bible experts dismissing out-of-hand.)

Luke’s story goes like this:

Christ is at a Pharisee’s house reclining at table, when a whore walks up to him with an alabaster flask, and pours ointment all over his feet.  The Pharisee thinks to himself, “‘If this man were a prophet,  he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’”

So everyone’s scandalized.  But it’s not for the reason you think.

You’re allowed to have sex with a prostitute.  That’s not a problem.  Not even for a holy man, not even for a rabbi.  Nobody’s shocked to see her in the Pharisee’s house, and in fact all the men seem to know who she is; she’s probably there all the time.  Nobody’s saying out loud that there’s anything wrong with what Jesus is letting her do to him.  He has the right to let her.  They’re just judging him privately.

Because, he’s doing it wrong.

The hooker’s not supposed to pay you.  The hooker’s not supposed to use you and your body for her own comfort and relief.  And that’s what she was definitely doing, and she was not being subtle.  We remember thousands of years later that her jar was made of alabaster; it was a big, showy thing she did to bathe him in that ointment.  She made it rain, to use the modern vernacular of strip-clubs.  She slobbered all over him – kissing, crying, rubbing her hair on his feet.  There could be no mistaking her passion for accident or malady; they know what kind of woman she is.  They assume she’s getting off.  And they’re privately scoffing at the way Jesus can just lay there passively, without seeming to realize that he’s become the whore.

That isn’t a story about how Jesus accepted an apology from a very sorry prostitute.  This isn’t even what Jesus said about the situation.  He said to his host, who sat there quietly mocking him, that the woman’s love was a demonstration of thanks for all that she had been forgiven.  Simon, man of stature, had never been forced by society to grapple with the weight of his own humility.  He didn’t yet know what it was to feel redeemed.  And Jesus said, it showed, in the stingy way that he received his guests.

The prostitute didn’t leave the house that day committed to prostituting no more.  It wasn’t an option; in Jesus-era Palestine, a known whore couldn’t just decide to get married or start up a respectable business instead.  Her redemption was to do with her own sense of integrity.  Her own ability to love and respect herself.  And her finding, in Jesus, the hope that the world she lived in could learn to love her yet.

It was her faith that saved her.  And Jesus heard that prayer.

So he became her.  In front of that entire stuffy dinner party – Christ became a whore, who wouldn’t be shamed.