Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. Exodus 22:22-24
I’ve been blogging a lot more about sex work than I thought I would at this site. I thought I would write once a week about sex work, and then once or twice a week about something else. But it seems like all I want to write about is sex work. I thought I should explain why I care.
Theological Underpinnings In Exodus 22:22-24, we see an example of God expressing God’s concern for widows and orphans. Close by, texts speak about welcoming the stranger and serving the poor. Over and over there is concern in the Bible for individuals who are the most vulnerable in society: the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
Who are today’s poor, strangers, widows and orphans? I believe that the most vulnerable populations in the world today are the poor, women, children, and sexual minorities. So when the Bible says take care of the widows and orphans, we should hear, “Take care of the poor, women, children, and sexual minorities.”
But note that the text doesn’t say, “Rescue the widows and the fatherless.” Instead, it says, “Do not take advantage.” In other words, do not exploit the vulnerabilities of the most vulnerable. Exodus 22:22-24 says to not do negative work towards them. There’s no implication to do positive work towards them, but of course, that’s even better than not exploiting them.
Humanist Underpinnings The International Humanist and Ethical Union says this about humanism:
Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities.
And although Humanism is generally non-theistic, I still believe that the individual right of humans to give meaning and shape to their own lives is important. The poor, women, children, and sexual minorities have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. And people with privilege have to protect that right.
Personal Relationships Through the years, I’ve met hundreds of sex workers. Are they different from non-sex workers? Nope. Are they sometimes more vulnerable to the issues of racism, sexism, gender discrimination, classism, etc.? Yes. But seriously, are they less than me? Are they less than you? Abso-fucking-lutely not. They are whole people, who, whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion, are trading sex for something they need.
Ripple Effects The final reason I believe in supporting, resourcing, and caring for sex workers is this: We are all connected. There’s no way that treating any population of our society as “less than” is appropriate. Because as they go, so we all go. Nazi Germany vilified the Jews. At first, it was only a little bit. Then it grew, and grew, and grew. Before long, anyone who didn’t fit in, whether liberal, intellectual, gay, lesbian, or Jewish was included in the persecution.
And conversely, if we start treating anyone better, we will all be better.