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"Lover or Prostitute?” The Question that Changed My Life

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prostitutionA number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.


Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.
What do I mean when I say “really know Him?” Our understanding of knowing and knowledge stems from our western culture (which is based in ancient Greek philosophical thought). We believe we have knowledge (and, by extension, wisdom) when we have collected information. A collection of information is not the same thing as knowledge, especially in the culture of the Bible (which is an eastern, non-Greek, culture). In the eastern culture, all knowledge is experiential. In western/Greek culture, we argue from premise to conclusion without regard for experience--or so we think.
An example might be helpful here. Let us suppose a question based upon the following two premises: First, that wheat does not grow in a cold climate and second, that England has a cold climate. The question: Does wheat grow in England? The vast majority of people from the western/Greek culture would answer, “No. If wheat does not grow in a cold climate and if England has a cold climate, then it follows that wheat does not grow in England.” In the eastern culture, the answer to the same question, based on the same premises, most likely would be, “I don’t know. I’ve never been to England.” We laugh at this thinking, but when I posed the same question to my friends from England, their answer was, “Yes, of course wheat grows in England. We’re from there, and we know wheat grows there.” They overcame their cultural way of thinking because of their life experience. Experience trumps information when it comes to knowledge.
A similar problem exists with our concept of belief. We say we believe something (or someone) apart from personal experience. This definition of belief is not extended to our stockbroker, however. Again, allow me to explain. Suppose my stockbroker phones me and says, “I have a hot tip on a stock that is going to triple in price within the next week. I want your permission to transfer $10,000 from your cash account and buy this stock.” That’s a lot of money for me, so I ask, “Do you really believe this stock will triple in price, and so quickly?” He/she answers, I sure do.” I say, “That sounds great! How exciting! So how much of your own money have you invested in this stock?” He/she answers, “None.” Does my stockbroker believe? Truly believe? I don’t think so, and suddenly I don’t believe, either. How can we be so discerning in the things of this world, especially when they involve money, and so indiscriminate when it comes to spiritual things? The fact is, we do not know or believe apart from experience. The Bible was written to people who would not understand the concepts of knowledge, belief, and faith apart from experience. I suspect God thinks this way also.
So I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?
I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.

Dr. David Ryser
Responses to this article are welcomed. You may contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To all the DONATION complainers,
You just read the article for free- A prostitute gets her money up front. Would you report to work if you payment for services was not guaranteed? I think not! We who serve King Jesus and are not hirelings do. We work for free and just facilitate those with a thankful giving heart with the link below. It is this cold hearted attitude which has you paying up front for Christian Concerts, Books, Music and other services just like the world. Please dont miss this wonderful message because of this. If you dont want to give God has those that will and we are at peace with that. He hasnt failed us for 26+ years why would He start now?
With love,
Jose Bosque

Editors Note: Please help us continue to get this word out- No amount is too small- Thanks for your generosity!

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#178 LT 2014-02-24 01:40
Great article!
B/c of our Greek/westerniz ed cultural thinking, it has been twisted into an individualistic , self centered, self indulgent gospel, making it a business.
#177 JP 2014-02-22 03:37
This article reminds me of how much western culture demands that 'true love' be emotive and impractical.

Would God indeed be God if he was not building the Kingdom of Heaven? Would he be the same being if he did not bless? If he did not first love us ought we love him?

Because he first loved us, and because of the Kingdom, and because of his provision and blessing are all good, honest, and upright reasons to love God. I would opine that this article is arrogance and vanity and posturing that 'I really love god on my own while everyone else loves him just becasue he loved them first'. The secret premise of this article is just that.The premise is a lie.

We only came to love him because of what he did for us, and to posture and say one are somehow better than or that others shouldn't be like that that is vanity and self-gratificat ion.
#176 Megan 2014-02-21 16:42
This post was like a punch in the stomach.

It's so obvious once it's called out, but so easy to miss otherwise. Thank you for sharing! I think I have some serious heart-surrender ing and motive-examinin g to do.
#175 Saved by Grace 2014-02-19 17:09
This article is dead on. I grew up in a Christian home, was 'Christian' my whole life, but only got to know God as a personal God 2 years ago. This last month God has opened my eyes to the fact that at first I loved Him, not for Who He is, but what I could get from Him, the supernatural, gifts the blessings. I've read some of the comments and have seen a few that misses the whole point because they rather want to criticize. By experience I know this is something we can all think about. This article was the cherry on the cake for the revelation Holy Spirit worked in my heart..
#174 Man from Modesto 2014-02-18 10:36
The article is wonderful. Always nice to hear God's words speaking to the church.

The part I like best is the ending note to "donation complainers." Well said!
#173 Stuart Hatchard 2014-02-15 23:10
We read this article to the church this morning thank you Dr. David Ryser I also preached on it sang one song felt God now. got a Lady to read the article quoted the word that dropped into my heart as my wife finished reading it to me, You have made My house a den of thieves' got thanked for sharing it and some took an extra copy to pass on there was a real excitement in the place I spoke for nearly an hour it seemed like 5 minutes I got the impression that the congregation want to go and sit with God and talk about their relationship with Him and ask Him am I a lover or prostitute
#172 Megan Emily 2014-02-15 03:39
This article put into words a concept I've been struggling with for the past year -- whether I know God, whether I love Him, and if not, why. Especially in academic circles, it's easy to know about God and to discuss and dissect Him. In my personal life, it's easy for me to go back and forth between God and whatever else I find interesting at the time. This article was very inspiring and is a topic which needs far more discussion and consideration in the church, and as a result of reading this, I was able to write a response that has started some helpful and intelligent conversations among Christians I know. Thank you for encouraging me not only to continue trying to put this idea into words and bring it to others' attention but also for giving me a way to begin that dialogue.
#171 Stuart Hatchard 2014-02-13 22:56
I'm a Pastor my wife and I have asked each other several time where has the servant hood gone
I can remember my mother saying to friend when I was a kid "oh! that one free to get in but pay to get out" 3 Weeks ago I was talking to a solo mum. She said "I'd like to come to your church how much does it cost?" "nothing" I replied she responded "but my friends went to a church and they had to pay" It's free we'll come and pick you up if you like" the look of bewilderment followed a I don't understand look, that shook me to the core. I think I was just as confused as she was. thanks to my son in law my wife read me this article when she finished like a quiet voice in me "but you have made it a den of thieves. followed by 1cor 13. hope you don't mind I am going to give each member of the congregation a copy Sunday morning and talk about it things have got to change
#170 Cole J Ritter 2014-02-13 18:55
This article is so true! I have not yet attended a Christian Church where part of the opening protocol includes passing the offering plate. If we are going to truly execise our faith in Gods' provision, especially for the ministry itself, perhaps each church would receive a greater blessing and out pouring of the Holy Ghost if the church ministry would install an offering box outside the sanctuary.

Parishioners entering the Church would pass by the "offering box" and drop in their tithes and offerings before entering the sanctuary. After all, Jesus drove out the money changers from the Temple of God! "My house will be called a house of prayer (worship)"!
#169 Gary Frazier 2014-02-13 15:23
Unfortunately, people have been lukewarm, in God's church, for a long, long time!
I began to notice this, when I was attending a church with a membership of nearly 1000 people and always noticed that, on Visitation night, only 30 or 35 showed up (and they were always the same people). I realized this, anew, when I was a Bible college student and every kid was required to have a student ministry. Kids would do just enough to garner an "A" in ministry and nothing else.

It's really sad, when you consider how many Jehovah's Witnesses, or how many Mormons are laboring to earn their salvation, when you cannot get Christians, who know that we are saved by faith, to be willing to bring others to know the Lord.
#168 Rhonda Hudgins-Bundy 2014-02-11 15:27
Excellent article and I can well see where it took months to even partially reconcile the question within yourself.

I think the Matthew 7:21-23 passage is the perfect one to go with this article, as it brings us back to the question "are we lover or prostitute?" Are we serving and doing what we do out of love for Him or are our motives much less pure and for what He gives us.

To stay in the thought-line of that entire passage, not just those verses ... are we sheep or goats, as the church I grew up in would often asks.

I've always said, I'd rather serve God in life and die and find out I was wrong, than to refuse Him and die and find out I was wrong. After reading this, as pure as my believed intent has been, it has still been about what He can either do for me or keep me from ... not just because I love Him.
#167 stacy 2014-02-10 23:28
good article