Does God “Slut-Shame”?

Does God slut-shame? (FYI, “slut-shaming” means making someone, usually a woman or girl, feel inferior for deviating from traditional gender expectations, especially in areas of sexuality.) Here are some Bible verses similar to the language of slut shaming:

LOST

  • You played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whorings on any passer-by. (Ez 16:15)
  • How sick is your heart, says the Lord GOD, that you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen whore?… Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! Gifts are given to all whores; but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from all around for your whorings. (Ez 16:30-33).
  • Yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. (Jer 3:3b)
  • Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? (Jer 3:6)
  • Your daughters play the whore, and your brides commit adultery. (Hosea 4:13)
  • On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.” (Rev 17:5)

So, does God slut-shame? I would actually say no. The intent of these verses is actually quite different than modern “slut-shaming,” for two reasons.

  1. The cause of these prophetic tirades has nothing to do with gender expectations or sexual behavior. The remarks condemn the entire nation of Israel as spiritual harlots for worshipping other gods. The language of whorings and harlotry are metaphorical, used to spell out the shamefulness of human idolatry.
  2. The purpose of God’s words are restorative and reintegrative, not punitive and alienating as in modern slut-shaming. The critique is designed to woo Israel back into the covenant faithfulness (Ez 16:62-63), not some power move to punish or exclude.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 12.51.28 PMGod does not slut shame. In fact, he sides with the victims of shaming in the Gospels repeatedly (Luke 7:37-50; John 4, John 8:1-11; Lk 15:1-2), and ultimately bears that shame.

But, God does intentionally use the harsh imagery of harlots and adulterers as metaphors to help his people see their sin for what it really is—shaming towards God and shameful towards themselves. God wanted to wake Israel’s numbed hearts to see the grossness of their unfaithfulness and disloyalty against him, and to elicit this sort of confession and repentance:

Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us; for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” (Jer 3:25-26).

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