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By Elaine 

Author "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"



Shrine Prostitutes

(Deuteronomy 23:17)

The last remaining passage found in the Old Testament that is used against homosexuality is found in Deuteronomy 23:17.

Deuteronomy 23:17 (NIV)
"No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute."

This verse is rarely used anymore against homosexuality because its now widely understood that the word Hebrew word qadesh (Strong's #6945) means "a devotee by prostitution" or a "shrine prostitute". Most versions of the Bible now reflect this translation.

Before this however, the King James version read “sodomite” rather than “temple prostitute”. For those who believed that the sin of the Sodomites was homosexuality, this verse appeared to be condemning homosexuality. You can see from this how errors in translation begin to create a ‘snowball’ affect, compounding an error many times over.

This isn’t to take away from the actual verse itself. Shrine prostitution was a wide spread problem during the time of the Patriarchs. It was widely believed that having sex with the temple prostitute (either male or female) conveyed a blessing from the god of that particular temple to the participant. God was against the Israelites participating in such activities for a variety of reasons.

  1. The Israelites were to be a people set apart for God. They weren’t to mingle with the nations and their customs, which surrounded them.

  2. God is a jealous God and doesn’t want us to worship anyone else but Him (Exodus 20:3, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; Joshua 24:19-20)! Having sex with the priest/priestess of that temple was paying homage and having intimate relations with the god of that temple.

  3. The chances of catching a venereal disease would be much higher if you were a prostitute or had sexual relations with temple prostitutes.

It’s easy to see why God forbade such practices because temple prostitution is in direct conflict with the great commandment of Agape love (Matthew 22:37-40; Galatians 5:14; John 13:34). Items #1 and #2 were in direct violation of the first commandment of love. That being that we are to have no other god(s) above God Himself. Item #3 violates the second commandment of Agape whereby we are to love ourselves as we love others. Getting (or giving) venereal diseases isn't a very loving act either to yourself or the one you have relations with! Eek

In conclusion, we can see that this verse does not pertain to homosexuality. I strongly believe the other six verses will eventually be corrected as well.


For a more in depth look at this subject read "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"

by Rev. Sundby

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