WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT FREEDOM FROM GOMER THE SEX SLAVE
As a 21st Century Abolitionist, who is also a Christian Believer, I notice things in the Bible that I had never seen before I had learned about modern slavery. Take the book of Hosea for instance. There is sex slavery all over in this book.
The Leading lady, Gomer, is a sex slave bought and sold by others. The whole people of Israel participated in the use of sacred sex slaves in the temple/brothels of pagan gods. And what Gomer, a sex trafficking survivor of the Bible, experienced in God’s hands can teach us all a lot about how we can live in spiritual freedom even today.
Gomer’s story of slavery and redemption is set in a time of unparalleled prosperity in Israel. The crops were good, the power of their neighbor of Assyria had waned some. And in this time of prosperity the people of Israel became spiritually unfaithful to God. They began to worship – not-Gods. This pagan worship took on the form of prostitution – quite literally, as the “worshipers” would go to the temple-brothels and would pay raisin cakes to have sex with the priestesses there. This was their act of worship to the pagan gods. There’s a word I’ve heard that is used to describe these ladies in the temple- brothel… priestitutes. (Get it? Priestesses + Prostitutes = Priestitutes. Come on, it’s clever!) Theese were ladies who were used as sacred sex slaves.
Sex slavery was present in Israel at this time – PREVELENT. And it was an act of unfaithfulness to God to visit these priestitutes, partially because they were “praying” to the not-Gods for the blessings that had already come straight from the True God’s hand to Israel. In God’s complaint against Israel,
He says in Hosea 2:8…She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold— which they used for Baal.
It’s like God’s saying, “I give and give and give to you, but you don’t even recognize me. You run off after other non-gods and pretend like I do nothing for you.” To show them what their brothel-based worship is like to Him, God chooses to give them a very personal object lesson: the marriage of Hosea, his prophet, and Gomer – the prostitute wife.
From the very beginning what God tell us about Gomer is that she gets around. Gomer is a promiscuous woman who is not the least bit faithful to Hosea. She becomes a mother of three… who knows if they’re Hosea’s kids or not. And we know that she wasn’t just having flings, she was receiving money or provisions for her sex because in Hosea chapter three, Hosea asks her to quit her prostitution. And at some point her prostitution is done not just for herself but for an owner or manager – she may very well had ended up in a temple-brothels of the not-God’s. But whether she was in a brothel or just working for a manager, we do know Gomer became a sex slave. She was bought and sold.
But why did Gomer become a prostitute? Why would she do this when she has a husband? For that matter why does any woman become a prostitute even today?
SHE IS VULNERABLE TO THE COERCION OF THE AMERICAN PIMP
According to the US Department of Justice, the average age a girl in the US becomes a prostitute is age 13. How and why does a 13 year old end up selling sex on the street?
Well it often starts as something like this… “She meets someone.” Someone a little older, a little cooler, cute and funny who shows great interest in her. He lavishes on her complements, attention, and maybe even expensive or more mature gifts. She Eats. It. Up. Falls in love even! Once she’s given her trust completely to this person – her boyfriend flips the switch. Abuse is often involved – beatings, rape, or threats of violence. Followed by more love and affection – reeling her back in. She’s hooked and desperate to please him. Partially because she’s afraid of him when he goes crazy on her, and partially because she craves the affection he gives her in the other times. Partially because he’s probably moved her out of her city to a place where she doesn’t have access to help or anything familiar. And then she’s trapped. Turning tricks and handing over the cash. Not free to leave – invisible shackles on her heart and mind.
Why it that the average age a girl enters into prostitution is so young? Because the 13 year old girl is vulnerable. The pimp craftfully exploits her weakness. Luring her in with false promises of affection, provision, excitement, belonging…. Freedom.
WE ARE VULNERABLE TO SPIRITUAL TRAFFICKING
You and I are vulnerable too! Each of us in varying degrees can be vulnerable to physical slavery, but EVERYONE is vulnerable to spiritual slavery. When looking at the book of Hosea and also looking at my own life, I think the thing that makes us most vulnerable to spiritual slavery is… discontentment. When something is not the way you really want it to be. Who reading this can say they have never experienced discontentment?
But no matter how good things are going there always seems to be something in our lives that leaves something to be desired. Sometimes these things are just a bummer to us. And sometimes they are areas of deep heartache.
Discontentment makes ALL of us vulnerable to spiritual enslavement to not-God’s because the enemy takes advantage and starts to lie to us. The Pimp of Hell (if you will) – tells us that if we could just have this one thing, it will make us happy at last. Happy in a way God will not let us be.
We are each vulnerable to spiritual bondage and on our own, we are nothing but slaves to sin, death, and our own destruction. Each of us a spiritual slave needing rescue, just like Gomer the sex slave needed rescue. And God provides it for us both.
WHAT IS GOD’S RESPONSE TO OUR ENSLAVEMENT?
In Gomer’s life, the story of freedom goes, that after being lured into sex slavery, God told Hosea to go and love his wife again by purchasing her freedom and bringing her home. (Hosea chapter 3) This was to be an example of God’s faithfulness to His very unfaithful people.
What is interesting to me is that Hosea uses both cash currency and then 430 pounds of barley in trade to pay for his wife’s release. Hosea pays what he can in cash and scrapes up the rest in trade. Hosea goes broke to bring his bride back home!
You and I are like Gomer and like the slaves of today – because we too were once slaves. We have a spiritual trafficker that looks for ways to deceive us, and lead us into bondage. And you and I need to be bought back to God.
There was a price paid for you and I – the sacrifice of Jesus’s life on the cross. 1Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”
Jesus paid the redemption price to buy us for Himself – spilling His blood, giving his last breath for us in payment for our freedom. You could say God went broke that day to buy us back.
MORE THAN AN OBJECT
The Thought came to me while reading Hosea….Is it possible that Gomer was more than an object lesson to God? I think so. Sure when God sent Hosea to love her and purchased her freedom it was a great object lesson that revealed His faithfulness to Israel and pointed towards the redemption price of the cross for us. But Gomer truly experienced slavery and truly received freedom. Isn’t that a gift of love from God to GOMER? God sent Hosea to Gomer to show His love not only for Israel – not only for us – but for Gomer as an individual. God rescued her for her benefit, not just for Israel and not just for us – for HER. He showed His tender love for her as he set her free.
WALK IN FREEDOM – WITH THANKFULNESS
If Jesus paid an extravagant price to buy you and I back from our spiritual trafficker, how can we receive the freedom He offers? I think the first step is to acknowledge we have been unfaithful and that our unfaithfulness leads us into bondage to sin, death, and our own destruction. And then acknowledge that you are freed by God who loves you enough to go broke on a cross – buying you back for Himself!
Then, I would like to suggest you practice gratefulness. In Hosea we can see that it mattered to God that His people should remember His blessings to them. And they did not. This made them vulnerable to spiritual adultery. And I think the same is true for us – it’s true for me. When we focus on what we don’t have and lose focus of what God HAS blessed us with, we get discontent and more susceptible to the enemy’s tactics to lure us into self-destruction. So if step one is to acknowledge the price that has been paid for your spiritual freedom (thru Jesus’ death on a cross) then step two to living in freedom is to practice gratefulness for ALL of the ways God is taking care of you.
o Keep a gratitude journal of 5 things you are thankful for each day
o Pray with your children at night and thank God for whatever blessing you can see coming from His hand into their lives each day.
o Brag on God and tell others how He is taking care of you.
o Try praying only thank you prayers – no requests – for one week!
Remember (as James 1:17 tells us) that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father and is a sign of his unfailing love for you.
And that’s what really has proved to be freeing to me – experiencing God’s love for me. As Gomer might tell us, it is LOVE that UNSHACKLES us!