Scripture Focus: Hosea 3.1-3
1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
14 “I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!
Reflection: From Individuality to Mutuality
By John Tillman
It is sometimes difficult for us to understand the metaphor of faithfulness God is employing in Hosea’s story. How could we? Adultery is barely problematic in our culture.
We care about adultery when it happens to us or someone we love. We make a legal fuss about it. We sing vengeful songs about it. Collectively, however, we’ve basically come to expect and accept adultery. When both partners have remained faithful, we find it remarkable, unusual, worthy of celebration.
It makes some Christians feel better to blame promiscuity and infidelity on “our culture” and the “sexual revolution,” but it’s not true. Rampant infidelity might feel new but people are only doing more openly today what they did in secret before. Sexual exploitation began with Cain’s descendant, Lamech, and never slowed down.
Like Lamech, today’s sexual priorities are individual satisfaction. “What I want, what I feel, what I desire, trumps all. If that means that you or I must betray and leave wife or husband, so be it. It is my right to sate my appetites, no matter what they are, no matter the cost.”
Gomer chased sexual appetites. Like many who have done so, she came to ruin (Hosea 4.14), finding only loneliness, abuse, and bondage. What Hosea offered Gomer, and what God offers us, is a loving relationship of mutuality to replace transactional relationships of selfish benefit.
Sexual exploitation pushes down the weak. God puts genders on equal ground again. He refuses to treat the women resorting to prostitution differently than the men abusing them. Hosea promises to behave towards his wife in the same way he expects her to behave towards him. It’s not a one-way street.
Like the crowd in John 8.1-11, many voices accuse women of sexual wrongs while giving a pass to men. Righteousness is used to keep at a distance those we call “sinners.”
Hosea uses righteousness differently. Instead of separating himself from Gomer, he goes to her. Instead of treating her as beneath him, damaged, or as a slave, he lifts her up, restores her, and sets her free. It is no accident that this is exactly how Jesus treats us in our sins. In Hebrew, Jesus and Hosea have names with the same shade of meaning. Both names tell us that God saves. Jesus is our Hosea, our “savior.” Jesus breaks the curse of Eden, restoring the possibility of mutuality, respect, and love.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed. — Psalm 51.8
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about A Chiaroscuro Parable
The names of Hosea’s children seem harsh yet God makes it clear that his purpose is to lovingly reverse the meanings of these names.
Read more about The Sins Behind Sexual Sins
Many times sexual sins are a symptom of other sins such as greed, selfishness, inequality, and oppression.