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What about Rahab?

Some people might wonder what Christmas and a prostitute have to do with each other. And how we are supposed to explain any of this to our kids.

How do you explain those awkward things in the Bible to your kids? I preached from Joshua 2 recently about a character named Rahab, who the Bible describes as a prostitute.

It may not help a whole lot, but this isn’t a challenge unique to the Bible. How do we have those difficult conversations with our kids? About politics, or sex, or money, or the inconsistencies they see, or technical areas like math or science. It might help a little bit if we realize that awkward moments aren’t only in the Bible. They are all around us when we have little people around.

My kids are currently <1, 7, 9, and 11. We haven’t had the “what is a prostitute?” question. Yet. But we’ve had plenty of humdingers that leave a parent feeling inadequate. My general belief is that we are better off being honest with our kids. The things we have decided are off limits or embarrassing are sometimes seen with freshness and clarity through their eyes.

What is a prostitute? Well, I don’t think anyone (even in the Ancient Near East) ever sets out wanting to be a prostitute when they grow up. A prostitute is someone trying to make a living. With sex. What is sex? Sex is a form of connection between two bodies. We’ve tried to teach our kids that sex is a form of connection designed for the context of marriage. Prostitution is taking a good thing (sex) out of context (marriage). Water in the toilet, shower, or lake is fun and useful. Water two inches thick on the main floor of your house is a disaster.

The point in the Bible story is not what Rahab did for a living. The point in the Bible story is that Rahab had faith. She believed in God and trusted her future to him. God used Rahab because of her faith. He used Rahab to help his people Israel. And God used her in spite of what many of us might have treated as a disqualifier. Sometimes I get from people that they think they need to be perfect to come to church. Or perfect for God to use them. That’s so far from the truth that it is easy to refute from the Bible itself. And a story about a prostitute in Joshua 2.

You probably ought to know the rest of the story. After all, why is a pastor preaching about a prostitute during Advent? Jesus hung out with sinners, including government employees and whores. We know this. But can’t we keep Jesus a little further separated from the prostitute at Christmas time?

If you turn in your Bible to Matthew 1, you will find the family tree of Jesus. You will find the highlights of how Jesus got here to earth as the God-man from a human perspective. And if you look carefully, right there in the family tree of Jesus, you will see Rahab. I don’t think that’s anything close to an accident. And I hope if you’ve been holding back from church or the Bible or God because of your failings or weaknesses or reputation, that maybe you will think about that. Maybe the kiddos aren’t the only ones who should be asking questions. Who is this God who has revealed himself most fully to us as Jesus? Why did he choose to come to us by this family tree? There’s something to think about.

This column will be published in an upcoming edition of The Shelton Clipper, which serves Gibbon, Shelton, Wood River, Alda, and Cairo.

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