The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most disturbing in all of scripture.
In short, two angels come to the city of Sodom to warn a man named Lot that God is going to destroy the place, and that he and his family need to leave. Lot shows them hospitality & invites them into his home to stay the night. All the men of the city show up in a mob outside of Lot’s home and demand he send the visitors out so they can rape them.
Then, one of the most disturbing speeches in all of scripture:
“No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:7-8)
Look, angry mob, I have two virgin daughters – you can do what you like with them…
In my last blog post, I highlighted how women who may not have been up to “True Love Waits” sexual purity standards played a significant and integral role in the incarnation story.
In this post, I’m mourning how little value has been placed on women through history, and specifically their ownership of their bodies and their sexuality.
But the story of Saint Nicholas tells a vastly different tale.
It is said that St. Nicholas, an orphan to whom was left much wealth, used some of his inheritance to save three women from a life of slavery to prostitution. Their father was poor, he had no money for a dowry, so the women would be unable to marry. If they could not marry, they would be sold. The legend goes that St. Nick tossed bags of gold through the window of the home until each woman was assured in marriage.
Sure, it is still a story of women being bought and sold, but in this case - a dowry for marriage places greater honor on the woman than being sold into sex slavery.
These days, women are still being bought and sold – pieces of property of little worth to society. It’s not just in other countries, it’s not just in bigger cities, it is happening in our own backyards.
As we celebrate St. Nicholas on his feast day, may we lift up prayers for victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking. May we explore ways we may have a hand in supporting organizations that work to alleviate sex slavery. And may we look at ways that we can speak worth and love and joy and peace into the lives of individuals we encounter every day. May we take the time to remind them they are wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, and no one has the right to do with them what they please.
(IMAGE: Masaccio - St. Nicholas Saving Three Sisters from Prostitution)