• Jesus Loves Prostitutes

It's been said that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Though that's an overstatement—the first professions mentioned in Genesis are farming and shepherding 1—prostitution is a widespread reality. There is willing prostitution and forced prostitution, such as the sex slave trade.

While prostitutes are not living within God's will for their lives, they are not outside of His grace and mercy. They can reach out to the loving hands of the Savior and find hope, salvation, and new life.

According to Business Insider, there are over forty-two million prostitutes in the world, "three quarters of them…between the ages of 13 and 25." 2 There's no real way to know how many of them choose it and how many are forced into it. In America alone, prostitution rakes in millions of dollars each year, reaching well over $200 million in cities like Atlanta and Miami. 3

The Bible speaks of prostitution in both the Old and New Testaments. The general consensus is that it is immoral (see Proverbs 23:27-28). God's Word makes it clear that prostitution wreaks havoc on everyone involved with its practice—from practitioner to pimp to purchaser—and does great damage to the souls of the people involved. It's a perversion of God's purpose and plan for sex.

Yet Jesus loves prostitutes. While prostitutes are not living within God's will for their lives, they are not outside of His grace and mercy. They can reach out to the loving hands of the Savior and find hope, salvation, and new life.

To help us understand the topic, we'll define the word, discover what the Bible has to say about the topic, and develop a plan to reach the hurting person caught in prostitution.


The word prostitute is taken from two Latin words: the prefix pro (meaning before) and statuere (meaning to set up or place). In a literal sense, it means someone who sets up a place beforehand. Throughout the Middle Ages, the definition was generally understood as someone who is exposed publically or offered for sale. In its modern usage, a prostitute is someone who engages in sexual activity for payment; the term refers to both men and women.

Prostitution is part of what is deemed the sex trade industry, which includes sex tourism and sex slavery.


The Bible has a multitude of references to prostitutes and the act of prostitution. Some of the Hebrew and Greek words used for prostitution include:

  • A temple prostitute: qadesh (Hebrew)
  • A harlot: qedeshah (Hebrew)
  • To commit fornication: zanah (Hebrew)
  • A male prostitute: keleb (Hebrew; also means dog)
  • A general New Testament term for prostitute: porné (Greek) 4

Key Bible verses include:

  • "For a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well. ​​She also lies in wait as for a victim, and increases the unfaithful among men" (Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • "Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. ​​For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread" (Proverbs 6:25-26).
  • "Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" (1 Corinthians 6:13b).
  • "There istherefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).


In an article for Christianity Today, Rachel Marie Stone interviewed former prostitute Anny Donewald, who entered the field of prostitution at the age of nineteen.

When Stone asked Donewald about the most effective way to minister to strippers and prostitutes, she replied, "We want to offer a message of hope, rather than condemnation. Ultimately, I believe it's the Holy Spirit who convicts. They ought to know we're Christians by our love. But that won't happen if we come across as judgmental. If anything, that turns girls in the sex industry off from Christ. Besides, to these girls, the attitude is 'I'm already in hell—why are you telling me I'm going to hell?' What they need, instead, is a sense that a different kind of life is possible." 5

As is the case with all people—regardless of the sin in which they are entrapped—Christians must offer LOVE:

L—Listen to people. Make a sincere effort to get to know them and their situation.
O—Observe their life. Where are they coming from—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Find the root of the issue. Ask yourself, How can I assist them?
V—Voice God's truth. What does the Bible teach concerning prostitution? Even more importantly, what does it say about forgiveness, grace, and love?
E—Embrace them with the love of God in Christ. Empathize based on shared experiences, but keep Jesus the focus of your conversation and outreach.

Jesus loves prostitutes. Will you?


1 See Genesis 1:29; 4:2.

2 Gus Lubin, "There Are 42 Million Prostitutes In The World, And Here's Where They Live," January 17, 2012

3 Carina Kolodny, "9 Things You Didn't Know About American Prostitution," March 14, 2012,

4 "Prostitute," 2014

5 Rachel Marie Stone, "Hope for Women in Hell," October 27, 2014