Shrine Prostitutes - Is THAT what Moses was talking about in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13?
Shrine prostitutes were not homosexuals.
The Bible has nothing positive to say about shrine prostitutes, aka cult or temple prostitutes.
Ancient fertility goddess bas relief
The human authors of the Bible testify to the ongoing presence of cult prostitution, shrine prostitution or temple prostitution in ancient Israel. Various authors identify it by those names. Yet the Bible never links those pagan activities to being gay or lesbian, therefore it is untrue and unbiblical for modern Christians to attack the GLBT community by applying to us, verses God never applies to us.
When Israel left Egypt and entered Palestine, Jehovah warned them against worshiping Molech, Leviticus 18:3, 21-22, 26ff; 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 23, and by extension, his consort, Ashtoreth, the Canaanite fertility goddess, because God hates the worship of false gods.
Are gays trying to alibi our sin when we say Leviticus 18:21-22 refers to shrine prostitution, aka, cult or temple prostitution?
Pastor John MacArthur
John MacArthur admits the truth
"Judah’s syncretistic worship was reflected in the practice of swearing by the Lord and, at the same time, by Milcom, who may be either the Ammonite deity of 1 Kings 11:5, 33 or Molech, the worship of whom included child sacrifice, astrology and temple prostitution (cf. Lev. 18:21; 2 Kin 17:16; Ezek 23:37; Amos 5:25, 26; Acts 7:40-43)."
-The MacArthur Bible Commentary, John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005, p. 1038. Identical information is found in The MacArthur Study Bible, Revised & Updated Edition, 1997, p. 1326, note on Zephaniah 1:5.
The MacArthur Study Bible admits the truth
"Idol worship, such as the golden calf in the wilderness (Ex. 37), flared up again. Spurious gods of Canaan were plentiful. El was the supreme Canaanite deity, a god of uncontrolled lust and a bloody tyrant, as shown in writings found at Ras Shamra in N. Syria. His name means "strong, powerful."
Baal, son and successor of El, was "lord of heaven," a farm god of rain and storm, his name meaning "lord, possessor." His cult at Phoenicia included animal sacrifices, ritual meals, and licentious dances. Chambers catered to sacred prostitution by men and women (cf. 1 Kin. 14:23, 24; 2 Kin. 23:7).
Anath, sister-wife of Baal, also called Ashtoreth (Astarte); patroness of sex and war, was called "virgin" and "holy" but was actually a "sacred prostitute."
-The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1997, note on Judges 2:12.
"Many of the Greek cults, the mystery religions for sure, were associated with sexual perversion. And in most of the temples of the cults of ancient days there were temple prostitutes, ritual prostitution which made the sex act with a ritual prostitute a religious experience. Now that kind of religion would be very popular. False, wicked religious leaders would seek converts then for the purpose of having a sexual encounter with them. Orgies were common.
You say, "Why did they do that? What was that all about?" Listen very carefully. The spiritual leader, the religious leader was the man who was closest to God, or the temple prostitute was the woman who was closest to God. And so when you had a sexual relationship with them, that's how you got in touch with deities. That's how they sold their religion.
Supposed leaders of the mystery religions were the link to deity and the link was through the phallus, the males were the real links with deity. And so that's why they worshiped the cult of the phallus because that's how they linked up with deity. The intercourse with the leader or the charlatan or the phony religious faker was union with the deity and so intimacy with the gods was achieved through fornication.
So it was very typical then for these charlatans to come along and to woo women to themselves for the sake of sexual satisfaction under the illusion that this was a religious experience uniting them with the deities. Sort of a counterfeit church as the bride of Christ concept.
By the way, the strange twist of this is the idea that began in the ancient church that virgins were encouraged to dedicate their members and their flesh to this kind of union, that's where the temple prostitutes came from. The temple prostitutes were only for the temple and for the religious leaders to enjoy. They were totally devoted to the gods and their devotion reached the gods through intercourse with the temple leaders." - Pastor John MacArthur, 1990 sermon on 1 Thessalonians.
"And the pagans, of course, commonly made eunuchs and many parents even mutilated their children to prepare them for service to the idols. And this was always a Satanic practice."
MacArthur continues: "I would just add as a footnote that God offers grace to such people. According to Isaiah 56 verse 3,
"Neither let the son of a foreigner that hath joined himself to the Lord speak saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from His people, neither let the eunuch say, Behold I'm a dry tree."
In other words, if you've done this, you don't have to be totally despairing,
"For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My sabbath and choose the things that please Me and take hold of My covenant, even unto them will I give in Mine house and within Mine walls a place and a name better than a name of sons and daughters and I will give them" and I love this, "an everlasting name that shall not be cut off."
That's pretty practical. You may cut some things off, [castration] but you'll never cut that everlasting name off if they come to Me in faith. So God offers grace to the transsexual or the eunuch."
Merrill F. Unger admits the truth
Dr. Merrill F. Unger, 1909-1980, earned Th.M and Th.D degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Ph.D from Johns Hopkins. He was an experienced pastor and also a professor at Gordon Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary. Here is what Dr. Unger says about shrine prostitutes in ancient Israel.
"Canaanite Worship. The inhabitants of Canaan were addicted to Baal worship, which was conducted by priests in temples and in good weather outdoors in fields and particularly on hilltops called "high places." The cult included animal sacrifice, ritualistic meals, and licentious dances.
Near the rock altar was a sacred pillar or massebah, and close by the symbol of the asherah, both of which apparently symbolized human fertility. High places had chambers for sacred prostitution by male prostitutes (kedishim) and sacred harlots (kedeshoth) (I Kings 14:23, 24; II Kings 23:7)."
Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 1981, p. 413.
Charles Lee Fineburg admits the truth
Dr. Charles Lee Fineburg, 1909-1995, also earned his Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. In his commentary on Jeremiah in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 399, Dr. Fineburg writes:
"In Canaanite religion the main emphasis was on fertility and sex. Worship was entered into in order to insure the fertility of the land, the animals, and the people. Sacred prostitution was practiced widely. Among the sacred objects were stone altars, and the sacred tree or grove (so G.E. Wright, "The Archaeology of Palestine," The Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. G.E. Wright [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961], pp. 73-112).
Dr. Robert Gagnon admits the truth
The leading anti-gay Christian scholar of our time, Dr. Robert Gagnon, admits on page 130 of his book, The Bible And Homosexual Practice:
Anti-gay scholar Dr. Robert Gagnon
“I do not doubt that the circles out of which Lev 18:22 was produced had in view homosexual cult prostitution, at least partly. Homosexual cult prostitution appears to have been the primary form in which homosexual intercourse was practiced in Israel.” The Bible And Homosexual Practice, p. 130.
Isn't it interesting that one of the most vocal opponents of gay Christians devotes more than ten pages of his book, pp. 100-110, to proving that shrine prostitutes were a major problem in ancient Israel, while insisting that the Levitical prohibitions do not address the problem of shrine prostitutes?
If Drs. MacArthur, Unger, Fineburg, Gagnon and the rest of the conservative scholars we've quoted on this page are right, that shrine cult temple prostitutes were a major problem in ancient Israel, (and I believe they are right on this point), it makes more sense to understand Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as prohibiting the primary form, shrine prostitution, in which homosexual intercourse was practiced in Israel but NOT as a universal prohibition of homosexual practice, which is unrelated to fertility goddess worship.
The Holiness Code was given to keep Israel faithful to Jehovah, the True God. Israel violated the Holiness Code and drifted into idolatry. God judged Israel for her sins of idol worship and shrine prostitution, sexual worship of the fertility goddess [not homosexuality] for the next fifteen hundred years.
Some Christians make the mistake of equating men and women devoted to qadesh and qedeshah,the Canaanite fertility goddess, with modern gays and lesbians. The Hebrew words qadesh and qedesha are found in the following verses.
Diana was the Greek version of Ashtoreth and Astarte.
1 Kings 14:24
1 Kings 15:12
1 Kings 22:46
2 Kings 23:7
Qadesh and Qedeshah are NEVER used in the Bible to mean homosexual.
Ancient fertility goddess, etched in stone, circa 1350 BC
Christian honesty compels us to admit, it is inconsistent with Biblical truth and the facts of history to equate ancient fertility goddess worshipers with modern gay and lesbian Christians.
Notice that nothing in the context of these verses deals with a faithful, non-cultic partnership between two men or two women. Wise students of scripture will also note that verses which mention sodomites are not talking about the geographical area called Sodom in the Bible.
Every verse in the Bible which mentions sod@mite or sodomites is referring to shrine prostitutes who worshiped the Canaanite fertility goddess.
The Hebrew word for Sodom is Cedom, an entirely different word than qadesh or qadesha. Cedom is from a Hebrew root meaning “to scorch or burn.”
Sodom or Cedom is an entirely different Hebrew word than qadesh or qedesha.
Cedom has no etymological relationship with qadesh or qedesha.
Thinking Christians are interested in what the Bible actually says, not merely what it is presumed to teach.
Many Christians assume the Bible says things it never says. They base their religious beliefs on their false assumptions instead of on what scripture actually says.
False assumptions lead people to believe the Bible condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic partnerships between two men or two women when in actual fact, the Bible never condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic, same sex relationships.
55 times our English Bibles use the word Sodom and related English words, sod@mite, sod@mites, Sodoma. Yet strangely enough, in Hebrew, Sodom and sod@mite are not related words. For this reason, many Christians draw the wrong conclusion, that Sodom and sod@mites are related when in fact, they are not etymologically related.
Never in any of the Sodom passages does God say that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
Never in any of the Sodom passages does God or a human author of the Bible link Sodom with homosexuality.
Never in any of the sodomite(s) passages does God or a human author of scripture link sodomites(s) with a committed, faithful, non-cultic relationship between two men or two women.
On the other hand, whenever the Hebrew words qadesh or qadesha are used in scripture, they refer to a pagan worshiper of the fertility goddess. Therefore when we translate from Hebrew to English (or any other language) we must retain the original Hebrew meaning.
Because qadesh and qadesha did not refer to gay men or lesbian women in committed, faithful, noncultic relationships in any Biblical reference where those words are used, it is wrong to assert that qadesh and qadesha mean homosexual in the English when they clearly did not mean homosexual in the Hebrew.
The Following Verses Are NOT Talking About Gay Men And Lesbians
Deuteronomy 23:17-18 links female prostitutes, the qedeshah and male prostitutes or sodomites, the qadesh.
Israelites were forbidden to bring the hire of a whore, a zanah, prostitute, or the price of a dog, kelev, a male shrine prostitute, into the house of the LORD.
Zanah is a Hebrew word which, in the Bible, often means street prostitute. Scripture also inserts zanah into the text when describing shrine prostitution or Molech worship, Leviticus 20:5. This Link will open in a new page. This clinches the undeniable link between the word zanah and shrine prostitutes.
Qadesh and Qedeshah are Hebrew words which, in the Bible, also refer to shrine prostitutes.
Two other times in scripture, God links qedeshah with zanah, whore, prostitute, Genesis 38:21-24 and Hosea 4:14.
The sad story of Judah's fornication.
Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, had an illicit affair with his daughter in law, Tamar, which is described in Genesis 38:12-30. At the time they had sex, Tamar, Judah's daughter in law, was wearing a veil and dressed like a shrine prostitute.
At the time of this incident, Judah didn't even know he was having sex with his daughter in law. When Judah attempts to reclaim his pledge from Tamar (which he had given her so she would have sex with him), he asks:
“Where is [the qedeshah], the female shrine prostitute, who was openly by the wayside?” Genesis 38:12-30.
In Genesis 38:24, Judah is informed that his daughter in law has played the harlot, zanah, prostitute and is with child by whoredom, zanuwn, prostitution.
In the Genesis 38 passage, the Holy Spirit links qedeshah and zanah precisely as He links the same concepts in Leviticus 20:5, Hosea 4:14 and 2 Kings 23:5-10.
Some Christians are remarkably inconsistent in their interpretation
Canaanites called her Ashtoreth. Egyptians called her Hathor. Under either name she was a fertility goddess. This bas relief dates to 1250 BC.
It is remarkably inconsistent to assert that qedeshah equates to modern homosexuals and therefore, homosexuality is wrong while refusing to apply the same illogic to heterosexuals.
If qedeshah signifies all homosexuals, as so many modern Christians believe, then zanah in the same passage must signify all heterosexuals, therefore heterosexuality is wrong.
Of course, that is an illogical argument on both sides.
Qedeshah is a Hebrew word with a specific meaning. God the Holy Spirit is careful to use the word qedeshah to only indicate shrine prostitutes. Qedeshah is never used to mean homosexuals in the Bible.
Serious students of scripture also note that the qedeshah in our Genesis 38:12-30 passage, was a female who had procreative sex with a man and became pregnant. This is not homosexuality.
For anti-gay Christians to insist that the Hebrew word qedeshah means homosexual reveals gross ignorance or complete disregard for the truth.
Anath, an ancient fertility goddess.
God's wonderful grace and mercy were available even under the Law. Despite their sinful behavior, God forgives the sin of Tamar and Judah and places them and their illegitimate twins, Phares and Zara, into the genealogy of Christ, Matthew 1:3.
God links the qedeshah, shrine prostitutes and zanah, street prostitutes because what they share in common is a type of prostitution.
“I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, zanah, prostitution, nor your brides, daughters in law when they commit adultery, naaph, idolatrous worship: for themselves are separated with whores, [zanah], female prostitutes, and they sacrifice with harlots, [qedeshah], female shrine prostitutes.” Hosea 4:14.
“And there were also sodomites, [qadesh[, male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes] in the land: and they did according to all the abominations, towebah..." 1 Kings 14:23.
The Holy Spirit links the abomination-towebah activity of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 and 1 Ki 14:23-24 to shrine prostitution.
Do you agree with the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit, in 1 Kings 14:23-24 uses the Hebrew word towebah to describe the abominations of Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 and 1 Kings 14:23-24.
This Links the activity to shrine prostitution Leviticus 18:21, not homosexuality as we define it today, a committed, faithful, non-cultic relationship between two men or two women.
“And he took away the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes out of the land.” 1 Kings 15:12.
“And the remnant of the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes...” 1 Kings 22:46.
“And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes], that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove, asherah, sacred poles set up to worship the goddess.” 2 Kings 23:7.
The Holy Spirit, in 2 Kings 23:5-10, links qadesh/sodomites with Molech worship.
Are you ready to admit the truth? Do you agree with the Holy Spirit?
2 Kings 23:5-20 provides another undeniable Link between shrine prostitutes and Molech worship. Leviticus 20:5 also links Molech worship to shrine prostitution, twice using the Hebrew word zanah (prostitute) to describe the illicit sexual worship of Molech.
Fertility goddess bas relief from ancient Canaan.
God placed the Levitical prohibition of male-male intercourse in the specific context of forbidding Molech worship, Leviticus 18:21-22.
God deals with shrine prostitution in the Bible under the rubric of Molech worship.
Molech worship included worship of Molech’s fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth.
Molech worship is described as abomination-towebah, Leviticus 18:27-29.
Shrine prostitution is described as abomination-towebah, 2 Kings 23:13.
The Holy Spirit tells us the reason King Josiah destroyed the high places is so “that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.” 2 Kings 23:10.
This passage, in 2 Kings 23:5-20, links sodomites, male temple prostitutes or shrine prostitutes, with worship of Molech. Because God links Molech and shrine prostitutes, wise Christians must also make and affirm this link. It is dishonest for nongay Christians to refuse to acknowledge this clear teaching of scripture.
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are not talking about homosexuality in general. Scripture is quite clear on this.
The point at issue in the Bible is always shrine prostitutes. The Bible never makes negative comments about committed, faithful, non-cultic same sex partnerships.
Hands holding Bible
The reason King Josiah broke down the houses of the sodomites was so that
“no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.”
Since the Holy Spirit tells us the problem was false worship of Canaanite gods, it is wrong to ignore the clear statement of the Holy Spirit and insist, as some Christians insist, that the real problem was homosexuality.
If God intended us to believe the problem was homosexuality, God would have stated that clearly and unmistakably. Instead, God made it clear that the qadesh and qedesha were shrine prostitutes.
“They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean, qadesh, male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes].” Job 36:14.
These were not homosexuals in the sense in which we use the word homosexual today. They were idolatrous pagans, shrine prostitutes who rejected Jehovah and worshiped Ashtoreth, the Canaanite fertility goddess.
George Rawlinson on Molech, Ashtoreth And Shrine Prostitutes
George Rawlinson, 1812-1902, in History of Phoenicia, written in 1889, describes Molech as a god worshiped by the Canaanites and Phoenicians. Here is his description of shrine prostitutes.
“At the head of the Pantheon stood a god and a goddess, Baal (Molech) and Ashtoreth... As Baal was the embodiment of the generative principle in nature, so was Ashtoreth of the receptive and productive principle. She was the great nature goddess, the Magna Mater, regent of the stars, queen of heaven, giver of life, and source of woman's fecundity...
[Canaanite religion was notable for] the prevalence of licentious orgies [involving shrine prostitutes] and of human sacrifice... Early rabbis describe the image of Moloch as a human figure with a bull's head and outstretched arms; and the account which they give is confirmed by what Diodorus relates of the Carthaginian Kronos...
“‘In the worship of Astarte [Ashtoreth, the ancient Canaanite fertility goddess]
prostitution of women, and of effeminate men [shrine prostitutes], played the same part that child murder did in the worship of Baal...
[Worshipers believed] no service more acceptable could be rendered a deity than that of unchastity... Thus lust itself became a service of the gods...’
One fruit of this system was the extraordinary institution of the Galli. [Rawlinson equates the Galli [shrine prostitutes] with the KJV’s ‘sodomites’ - the ‘qedesha’ of the Hebrew text.]
The Galli were men, who made themselves as much like women as they could, and offered themselves for purposes of unnatural lust [unnatural in the sense of not procreative] to either sex [shrine prostitutes]. Their existence may be traced in Israel and Judah, [I Kings 14:24, 15:12] as well as in Syria and Phœnicia.
At great festivals, under the influence of strong excitement, amid the din of flutes and drums and wild songs, a number of the male devotees would snatch up swords or knives, which lay ready for the purpose, throw off their garments, and coming forward with a loud shout, proceed to castrate themselves openly...
They joined with the priests and the sacred women at festival times in frenzied dances and other wild orgies, shouting, and cutting themselves [as the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:19, 28] on the arms, and submitting to be flogged one by another.
At other seasons they wandered from place to place, taking with them a veiled image or symbol of their goddess [because they were shrine prostitutes], and clad in women's apparel of many colours, and with their faces and eyes painted in female fashion, armed with swords and scourges, they threw themselves by a wild dance into bacchanalian ecstasy, in which their long hair was draggled through the mud...”
(from George Rawlinson, History of Phoenicia, 1889, Chapter XI.)
Is it sinking in yet? Can we now agree that this view is not just gays trying to alibi their sin? According to another conservative evangelical author, Dr. Elmer A. Martens, in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, Vol. 1, p. 113,
"the worship places of religious cults in ancient Palestine were located atop hills and mountains."
Cybele had become the most prominent fertility goddess by New Testament times. In first century Rome, Cybele had five temples, one of which sat atop the Palatine Hill overlooking the Circus Maximus.
Fertility goddess temples contained idols, an asherah pole representing the fertility goddess and massebah, stone pillars which were phallic symbols, representing the male deity.
Dr. Martens links six religious activities to the pagan worship of the ancient Canaanites:
The entire list of forbidden acts in Leviticus 18 and 20, such as sex with a sister, sex with a step-mother, sex with a menstruating woman, sex with an animal, same sex activity in worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess and sacrificing children are said to be the doings of the Egyptians and Canaanites, Leviticus 18:3 & 21, 20:2-5 & 23.
These pagan practices, including shrine prostitution, were forbidden for Israel.
Margaret Murray on fertility goddess worship
Marrying a close blood relative (incest) was a practice which came to be associated with the Egyptian cult of Osiris. Isis, the Egyptian Queen, was called Mother of God and Lady of Heaven. She was both mother and wife of the reigning Egyptian king. When God gives Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, the practice of marrying one’s sister or aunt, is prohibited.
(From Margaret Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, Hawthorn, 1963, pp. 105-106).
Philo admits the truth about shrine prostitutes
Philo, also links the Holiness Code prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to the forbidden sexual religious practices of Egypt.
Philo, 20 BC-AD 40
“(40) And I imagine that the cause of this is that among many nations there are actually rewards given for intemperance and effeminacy. At all events one may see men-women [androgynes] continually strutting through the market place at midday, and leading the processions in festivals;
and, impious men as they are, having received by lot the charge of the temple, and beginning the sacred and initiating rites, and concerned even in the holy mysteries of Ceres
(41) And some of these persons have even carried their admiration of these delicate pleasures of youth so far that they have desired wholly to change their condition for that of women, and have castrated themselves and have clothed themselves in purple robes...
[Philo here describes the castrated Galli priests who served Cybele or other fertility goddesses worshiped in Rome].
(42) But if there was a general indignation against those who venture to do such things, as was felt by our lawgiver..."
Moses was the Jewish Lawgiver. Philo refers to Moses' writings in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 and tangentially Deuteronomy 23:17 and links those verses to the shrine prostitution he has witnessed in the Roman empire.
The view that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 prohibits temple prostitution or shrine prostitution is therefore, at least 2000 years old. Our gay Christian viewpoint is rock solid, historically accurate and reflects Jewish and Christian views for more than two thousand years.
The Bible is crystal clear about shrine prostitutes. God prohibited His people from worshiping false gods like Molech and Ashtoreth. Whatever name you give them, shrine prostitutes, cult prostitutes or temple prostitutes, God prohibited the same sex activity connected with fertility goddess worship.
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 prohibit Israelites from becoming shrine prostitutes and engaging in idolatrous worship of Molech and Ashtoreth.
This understanding fits culturally, doctrinally, historically, linguistically and religiously.
This understanding, that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 refer to shrine prostitutes, is a faithful, hermeneutically sound way to interpret scripture.
This understanding honors God and honors scripture, rightly divided.
And, this understanding upholds the holiness and sanctity of the infallible word of God.
Even some of the most virulently anti-gay Christians ever to draw breath, including John MacArthur and Robert Gagnon, admit this truth.