The prophet Hosea was called to live out a parable of God’s persistent love in the midst of Israel’s betrayal. God commanded Hosea to marry a common whore and have children with her (Ch. 1-3). God “goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love” (Message).
God wants us to identify with Gomer in her wretched state to understand how spiritual adultery offends God. We can see the heart of God as He calls us back to himself. God does not give up on us. In our day both spiritual and moral idolatry keep us from relationship with Him.
Who is responsible for this spiritual condition of our culture? Hosea 4: 14 gives us a clue: It is fathers who have not set the example in taking the lead in spiritual and moral fidelity. Hosea calls the fathers out for their failure: “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves slip away with prostitutes, and they offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes [who give their bodies in honor of the idol]…the people without understanding [stumble and fall and] come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14 – Amp.).
To win the favor of the fertility god Baal and the goddess Asherah, the Canaanites engaged in “sacred” prostitution, which involved ritual sexual acts with “sacred” prostitutes. “These rituals took place at special shrines located on hills under the shade of trees and were designed to promote fertility in the land…The Israelites encouraged their daughters to visit the shrines, hoping that their participation in ritual sex with the priests of Baal and Asherah would encourage their gods to give them numerous children. But their fathers were just as guilty, for they too visited the shrines and has sexual relations with the priestesses there…to enhance their own virility” (Chisholm – Handbook on the Prophets).
Israel became so infatuated with idols and sexuality promiscuity that they surrendered to “a spirit of prostitution” in which “the men consort with harlots and… sacrifice with temple prostitutes” v. 14 NET). “Verse 14 is in fact a landmark in moral history by its refusal to treat a man’s sexual sins more leniently than a woman’s” (Bible Speaks Today). Here Hosea makes clear that the daughters are innocent when compared to the men, who were not setting an example to their daughters, but were going to prostitutes, both religious and secular.
Verses 12-14 reveal people who had forsaken the Lord and turned to promiscuity. They show how self-indulging and mindless religion is in fact guilty of producing spiritual decadence, which in turn produces a moral breakdown in the culture. God declares they are, “a stupid people, ruined by whores” (v. 14 – Message).
Men, God’s directive in the sixth commandment is: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.” Paul exhorts us, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity” (I Thess. 4:3 – Message).
It seems to me that in a sensual and sexually-confused time, Christian men need to step forth and practice sexual purity. We can apply this by resolving to: 1) Be a one-woman man, 2) Live and model a virtuous life of purity, and 3) Acknowledge how much we and other fathers have failed in our culture. God help us as men and fathers to do that.