Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Christianity and sex positivism are hardly synonyms. Christianity conjures up ideas about perpetual virgins, strict sexual codes, alarmingly large families, purity culture, threats of eternal judgment, and a general absence of fun. It might come as some surprise, therefore, to realize that the Divine Plan included more seductresses than shrinking wallflowers.
Let’s begin with Rahab—the woman who helped bring down the city of Jericho. After being freed from enslavement in Egypt, and wandering for forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites found themselves in Canaan (aka the Holy Land). Canaan wasn’t empty and thus began a period of violent and bloody conquest. According to the Hebrew Bible, Joshua (who had succeeded Moses as the people’s leader) sent two spies to scout out the military resources of the well-defended city of Jericho. Their deceptive plan was quickly uncovered, and the two spies took refuge at the house of a sex worker named Rahab. Instead of handing the spies over to her neighbors, Rahab hid them underneath the bundles of flax that were drying on the roof of her house.
In exchange for her assistance the spies promised to save Rahab and her family from the impending invasion. They were spared when, according to the book of Joshua, everyone in the city—man, woman, child, and pets alike—were slaughtered (if this part of the story gives you pause it will come as some consolation that there’s no archeological evidence to support it).