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"Ritual Prostitution, a problem for early Church" Discuss.

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Student Number: 970429865 "Ritual Prostitution, a problem for early Church." Discuss The act of ritual prostitution was commonly identified with the church at Corinth. Corinth during the lifetime of Paul was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. It served as a commercial bridge between the East and West, attracting immigrants, merchants, traders and visitors from all areas around the Mediterranean Sea. The inhabitants, coming from diverse cultural backgrounds, retained many social customs and religious beliefs and practices peculiar to their places of origin. Corinthians were also notorious for their love of pleasures and lax morals. Consequently, the church at Corinth was exposed to a bewildering variety of customs and beliefs and to a corrosive atmosphere of public immorality, all of which encouraged a lack of moral discipline and divisiveness in the predominantly Gentile Christian community. The Christians at Corinth produced highly divergent interpretations of what the Gospel demanded in the way of sexual ethics, ranging from libertinism to a complete rejection of both marriage and sexual intercourse. It is probable that the libertine party at Corinth had adopted slogans such as "All things are permitted" and "Food is for the belly and the belly for food" (implying that sexual intercourse is as uncomplicated an expression of natural desire as eating is). Paul argues that the body of a Christian belongs to Christ. Therefore, all sexual expression, then, must take Christ's ownership into account The act of Ritual Prostitution was one of many of the immoralities found at the Church of Corinth, including the abuse of the Lord's supper, various forms of sexual immorality and food offered to idols, to name but a few. ...read more.


It is clear that Proverbs agrees with the Torah in understanding prostitution, as violation to Gods will, not merely as something to be avoided for prudential reasons. Still, the justification offered for the prohibition is intrusive as to the ethical framework in which the prohibition itself belonged. Prostitution was wrong because it stood outside the normal patriarchal system in which the male head of the household owned one or more women as sexual partners. As such, it threatened the interests of the family. The man might feel that he had received full value for his expense, but the family gained nothing at all from his patronising of the prostitute. His action, therefore was a betrayal of his responsibilities, since he existed not to gratify his own desires but to maintain and enhance the fortunes of his "father's house." What the Torah and Proverbs agree upon then is the condemnation of those who place personal gratification ahead of family duty. The Torah condemns the unmarried woman who prefers sexual pleasure above her obligations as a good daughter of the household who must preserve her marriage-ability, which is, indeed the family's investment in her. Proverbs condemns the man who spends family resources on private pleasure. He should marry a woman and be content with the sexual pleasure he receives from her. Proverbs was concerned to make the prostitute sound as unscrupulous and unattractive as possible. The Torah was speaking to the woman who was trying to behave as an unattached individual in pursuit of pleasure while still remaining under the protection of her father. ...read more.


In Paul's own terminology, the relationship thus established is "one body;" but in the terminology of Genesis, it is a relationship of "one flesh." Paul insisted that the man who had intercourse with the prostitute was not unchanged by that act. However, it was destructive of one's spirit; the relation to Christ and to God: "Every sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the man who uses harlots is sinning against his own body."1 It is evident that where Proverbs discourages a man from using prostitutes because he belonged to his family, Paul discouraged it because he belonged to God. The body, the person as a whole, is the spirit's temple, into which other forms of worship must not be introduced. "One might well ask, then, whether the implication of this line of reasoning is not, finally, to forbid sexual intercourse altogether."2 The very fact that much attention is given to the issue of prostitution suggests that it was a significant problem for the early Church. One main point, evident in the doctrine, is that those who use a prostitute are equally to blame as the prostitutes themselves. If we take the view point of Paul, we can recognise the wrongness of prostitution, in that it is a sin against God, for it undervalues the gift of love, through intercourse, given to us by God. One could argue that the doctrine at the Church's disposal was successful in that people recognised that prostitution of any kind is immoral. However, the very fact that it remains in the contemporary world implies that the use of such evidence was not used effectively. ...read more.

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