Rahab and the Condom Conundrum

We read in book of Joshua that the non-Jewish harlot Rahab hid Jewish spies under bundles of flax from her roof (Joshua 2:6).

The fact that a harlot gave help to the Jewish spies is not to be taken as biblical approval of harlotry.  It is also not to be taken as an approval of lying.

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  1. kgurries says:

    Father, that is a great point. I think we can make better sense of all of this by considering the Pope’s comments in light of the three traditional sources of morality: object, intention and circumstances. I just finished a post on it here: http://opuscula.blogspot.com/2010/11/sources-of-morality.html

  2. pattif says:

    Exactly so, Father. And Our Lord’s parable of the dishonest steward (Lk 16:1ff) is not to be understood as a divine endorsement of defrauding one’s employer.

  3. rakesvines says:

    Lying no but broad mental reservation – maybe?

    And did St. Matthew include her as part in the Messiah’s genealogy to make Him take on sin in His flesh as what St. Paul will teach later, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Cor5:21)

  4. rakesvines says:

    And I did not miss the point with the Conundrum reference where the compassionate AIDs infected prostitude uses a condom as showing the beginning of conversion. To wit, the Pope rather than summarily dismiss that whore as totally evil, acknowledged his good intention regardless. He did not bless the condom use much less the whoring but noted positively the motivation to spare the Nancys or Johns of AIDs. And this tiny spark of goodwill can be the first step to holiness just as Rahab ended up in the DNA of the Incarnate God. (That’s how the genealogy came in.)

  5. SarahM says:

    Could this be the justification of Pius XII in his dealings with the Hitler, I wonder?

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Father Z. has said, “The fact that a harlot gave help to the Jewish spies […] is not to be taken as an approval of lying.” If this is not a petitio, why not?

    Is there clear, unanimous teaching on this point? (I know, I really out to take that dissertation I have about St. Augustine and the ‘mendacium officiosum’ off the shelf and read it right through, carefully: meanwhile, however…)

    Is it not, because what Rachab did was not- or ought not to be understood as – lying? But it seems clearly direct lying (Joshua 2:4-6). And the spies (are “spies” approved of, or not, and why, or why not?) seem to be encouraging her to go on lying (v. 14), and indeed to make the preservation of her and her family-members lives to depend on her willingness to go on lying.

    Are chapters 1-2 intended as (in significant part) a lesson in how corrupt and depraved Joshua and his loyal agents are?

    Ought the spies to have embraced martyrdom and Rachab encouraged them to?

  7. Stvsmith2009 says:

    I agree with your point Father Z. I think though, that some of the commentors need to go back and read the scripture carefully. Just read it and not try to read in to it what isn’t there. Matthew in givng the genealogy for Jesus was to show that Jesus was of the line of David, and therefore the King of Israel. The genealogy of a son was reckoned through the father, and we as Catholics all know that Joseph was Jesus’ foster father. Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, so any DNA Jesus would have received would have come from Mary solely, and not from Joseph.

  8. David Collins says:

    Could this be the justification of Pius XII in his dealings with the (sic)Hitler, I wonder?

    What?! Do you believe, SarahM, Pius XII helped Hitler?

    Venerator, there ain’t no rulebook or manual where everything that happens in life is covered right down to whether or not you sin by getting mad for 0.2 seconds because your sister’s cat’s grandmother climbed up the Christmas tree.

  9. SarahM says:

    Nope, I think he was playing Rahab…hiding the Jews while others were not in the position to do what he did.
    Rahab could have turned them over as could have the church, but the front given to Fascist Germany/Hitler was Pius XII and his church had no Jews just as Rahab had no spies they had all gone out the gate.

  10. rakesvines says:

    @Stvsmith: Point is, there’s a lying goysha whore in the genealogy.

  11. David Collins says:

    SarahM: Ah, that makes sense.

  12. PM says:

    Matthew mentions four women, apart from Mary, in Jesus’s lieage: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “the wife of Uriah.” Mary is a kind of counterpoint to all of these.

    None of the four were Jews (or Hebrew). Rahab was a harlot. Tamar masqueraded as a harlot. Ruth was an exemplary woman, but won Boaz through a kind of seduction. Bathsheba was an adultress.

    I don’t know what to make of this pattern, except to think that it must have some significance (and I am sure there is copious commentary down the ages). But it does seem to lead to the reflection that people are complicated beings, and that questions of right and wrong, good and bad are sometimes not simple.

  13. rfox2 says:

    I believe that for those of us who are trying to be faithful Catholics, we know that the Holy Father did not change Church teaching, nor did he intend to condone the use of condoms. We can safely take that for granted. The prevalent problem is not whether the pope was condoning condom use. The problem is that the world THINKS he did. His statements were subtle and a little opaque. Shouldn’t the Magisterium clearly and unequivocally teach the truth to the world, and leave the subtle points to theologians, Curial administrators, and canon lawyers? The problem is not the pope’s private theological opinion. The problem is the grave responsibility of the Magisterium to proclaim the truth without qualification to a world that needs the Truth.

    Your point is a good one Father, but it side steps the major issue at hand.

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