Several times now, I have seen bloggers and sites note, “Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, please remember this on Easter.” First of all, the word “prostitution” is no longer an accepted term in circles working to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It is a legal term that is used by law enforcement, but when using a victim centered approach, the preferred term instead is “commercial sexual exploitation.”
“Prostitutes” are victims. Today, they are generally controlled by pimps and do not choose to be sexually exploited by their own will. The overwhelming majority are trafficked individuals, or soon will be. Looking at the legal definition of trafficking, I will refer to the AMP model– action means and purpose, which says, “The trafficker recruits, harbors, transports, provides, obtains, or so attempts through force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of commercial sex acts or labor acts.”
What if Mary Magdalene was a prostitute? Why does it matter? Where would the shame be in that? Could Jesus not use a “prostitute” as the first woman preacher? Could his radical inclusion not have changed her is she was? Or, more practically speaking, what if we have human trafficking victims coming to our church services? How would they feel if we are over-emphasizing that Mary was not a prostitute?
Bloggers and others should be conscience of media best practices when dealing with content that could pertain to human trafficking. Below is a resource from the Trafficking in Persons Report from 2014. Let’s honor victims and survivors by creating a space where all are welcome. Let’s be advocates.
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/235354.pdf (resource is a PDF)
 Link is to a PDF file.
**Cover Image from http://www.orthodoxkansas.org/MaryMagdalene.jpg**