Dear Modern Mama,
Not sure why I got asked to give advice. My life lesson sounds simple: love God and love your husband. But I learned it in painful and difficult ways. Let me tell the story.
Elohim, the one and only God, asked Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife. Can you imagine? A prophet of God sent to pick a prostitute for a wife! Pick any woman. No divinely selected woman. No promised blessing on the woman or the marriage. The prophet Hosea faithfully followed God’s direction, purposefully choosing a wife with a bad reputation. Hosea’s difficult marriage became an object lesson, played out publicly to teach all of Israel.
I know, because I am that whore, chosen out of my life of sin and debauchery. For Israelites, sexual sin outside of God’s design of marriage carried a penalty of death by stoning. But in the idol-worshipping society of my day, Israel tolerated all kinds of sexual sin: temple prostitutes, prostitute daughters, adulterous daughters-in-law, and men who indulged in all of that. As a wayward and rebellious woman, I indulged in that sinful culture, too. I earned a good living by selling myself. My male customers paid me generously in bread, water, wool, flax, oil, drink—even silver and gold.
I did not know God when I met my husband Hosea. Back then, I didn’t want to meet God or some strange guy who thought he should be my husband. In my depraved lifestyle, I enjoyed earning money by fulfilling men’s sin-addicted thoughts. You can imagine how uncomfortable Hosea felt coming to where I worked. He looked so out of place, until he saw me and chose me. The idea of marriage came from Hosea, not me. At the time, I didn’t want to get married or have children. Somehow, I agreed to Hosea’s plan.
We had kids right away. Hosea insisted on naming our kids, with names he said God gave him. Fine with me, I didn’t care about the kids at first. I didn’t know how to parent children. I didn’t want to be a mother; kids just interrupted my work. Hosea named our first boy Jezreel, same as the valley city where King Jehu massacred the house of Ahab. With our daughter, Hosea said God wanted her name to be Lo-ruhamah, or “not loved.” Hosea called our next son Lo-ammi, which means “not my people.” I figured Hosea and God tried to shame me with that one, because, with my extramarital activities, how could I ever know who was the father?!
Even stranger, Hosea later renamed our younger kids. He took the “Lo” part off, calling them Ruhamah, or “loved,” and Ammi, “my people.” Later, I ran out on Hosea, so I didn’t understand these things until I went back to my family.
According to Hosea, God came up with the plan, the one thing Hosea did that I most love him for. After all my sinful betrayals, would you believe Hosea came to the slave block to buy me back? Not that anyone else cared to bid. But it got a lot of attention—everyone in town knew about our sham marriage and how I lived. I deserved nothing, but my dear Hosea bought me back and took me home.
Hosea taught me about true love, and more importantly, about God’s love. Just like God does for us, Hosea demonstrated unconditional love for me, an unworthy sinner. Our story became an object lesson of God’s mercy and forgiveness for all Israel. Not just a lesson for that time, but an enduring human parallel of God’s love and redemption. (Read it for yourself in my husband’s book.)
My Hosea is my hero. So many times I betrayed Hosea’s love and brought him nothing but shame. Yet he never stopped loving me. He bought me back from slavery when no one else would look at me. I know now that God chose to redeem me through Hosea’s love. My dear Hosea taught me how to love and obey Elohim. I am so grateful for my Elohim who gave me a chance.
Elohim, my one and only God.
Me, the sinner and whore.
Hosea, my beloved husband and redeemer.
My advice to you: love God and love your husband.
Love to you,
Gomer, late to learn about love, but grateful to be redeemed and restored