What Does Harlotry Mean In The Bible

Definition of Harlotry

Harlotry is defined as illicit sexual behavior of any kind or prostitution, and it is explicitly prohibited in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. The Bible’s six-fold condemnation of harlotry (adultery, fornication, incest, rape, prostitution, and homosexuality) is expressed clearly and briefly in the Apostle Paul’s teachings on chastity: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13 KJV).

The Role of Harlotry in Ancient Israelite Culture

In antiquity, harlotry served as a means of cultural and economic exchange in the Ancient Near East. In the Ancient Israelite culture, harlotry was seen as a tool that could be used by women to increase their social power by providing a means of self-determination in otherwise oppressive societies. Additionally, it could also be used to gain entry into a higher class of society, or merely to gain wealth and resources.

The Bible and Harlotry

The Bible harshly condemns harlotry in all its forms, and its condemnation is evident throughout much of the Old Testament. In fact, many of the laws of the Old Testament specifically address harlotry and those engaging in it, including a law which states that a woman who commits harlotry must be put to death (Leviticus 21:9-10). Additionally, it also states that a man engaging in harlotry with a betrothed woman was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22: 25-27).

Modern Implications of Harlotry

In the modern world, harlotry is still condemned by both religious and secular authorities alike. Although prostitution is legal in some countries, it is still widely seen as a form of exploitation of those engaged in it, and its participants are frequently seen as victims rather than offenders. Additionally, there is evidence that prostitution often leads to other forms of abuse, such as addiction, physical abuse, and even murder.

Opposition to Harlotry

Throughout history, there have been a number of religious and secular authorities who have actively opposed harlotry. One of the most notable is the early church father, Augustine, who wrote extensively against prostitution and other forms of fornication. He viewed prostitution as a form of exploitation and he preached strongly against allowing its participants any form of leniency.

Modern Attitudes Toward Harlotry

Despite its long-standing condemnation, harlotry still has a degree of acceptance in some parts of the world today. This is primarily due to its cultural and economic implications, as many countries have legalized prostitution as a means of generating revenue and providing an outlet for the desires of society. Indeed, some feel that providing a form of legalized harlotry is a logical step in bridging the gap between the desires of society and the laws of the land.

Religious Attitudes Toward Harlotry

Modern religious attitudes toward harlotry vary widely. The Catholic Church, for example, strongly condemns any form of harlotry, as does most of Protestant Christianity. Other religions, such as Islam and Buddhism, also heavily discourage any form of illicit sexual activity.

The Impact of Harlotry on Society

The implications of harlotry on society as a whole can be far-reaching, both in terms of its economic and social implications. On the one hand, it can provide an outlet for those who lawfully wish to engage in its activities, while on the other hand, it can create an environment of exploitation and abuse for those who are forced into it. Additionally, the social and economic implications of harlotry can be significant; those frequently associated with it tend to be more prone to poverty, addiction, and crime.

The Moral Question of Harlotry

The moral question of harlotry further complicates the issue. Those who are in favor of legalizing harlotry typically argue for its economic benefits, whereas those who oppose it frequently cite its religious implications. Ultimately, when it comes to harlotry, the Bible’s condemnation is clear and unequivocal, making any attempt to fully reconcile the two sides of the moral argument challenging, to say the least.

The Spiritual Implications of Harlotry

The spiritual implications of harlotry can also be far-reaching. The Bible warns that anyone engaging in harlotry will be severely punished, both in this life and the next. Along with these punishments comes the spiritual death that comes with engaging in sexual sins. It is only through repentance and a consistent lifestyle of holiness that one can begin to experience the spiritual and eternal life that comes with a different lifestyle.

The Power of the Gospel

Ultimately, the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing to save anyone engaged in harlotry. The power of the Gospel brings the opportunity for transformation and redemption, and those who accept it can be sure of forgiveness and restoration. The Bible states that all of us are sinners, but that the grace of God is available to save us from our sins (Romans 5:8).

The Clear Stance of the Bible on Harlotry

The Bible’s stance on harlotry is clear; it explicitly condemns it as one of the gravest sins a person can commit. However, it also provides an answer that goes beyond merely condemning this form of behavior. In Jesus Christ, there is the opportunity for redemption and forgiveness, and those who accept His salvation have the hope of eternal life.


Harlotry is a sin that is explicitly condemned in the Bible, and its implications are both moral and spiritual in nature. Yet, despite this condemnation, those who accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be sure of God’s forgiveness and restoration, and it is only through His grace that those engaged in harlotry can hope to experience a new way of life.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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