Twice now in as many days, I have read commentaries referring to the woman in Luke 7:36-39 as a sex worker. No discussion, no argumentation as to why they assume that she was a sex worker. It is just stated, as if it is a universally accepted fact: the woman in Luke 7 was a sex worker.
It seems to me, however, that this is a case of the sex worker being in the eye of the beholder. Our classification of this woman says more about us than about her.
Luke simply calls her a sinner. Why then, would it be assumed that her “sin” was sexual? This assumption stems from an inability to think of women as fully human. In the male gaze that sees women only as sexual objects, her sin can only be sexual.
Crystal Lutton tells the beautiful story of a woman who had sat at Jesus’ feet; who later accused Jesus of not caring and then witnessed the resurrection of her brother; who anointed her beloved teacher’s feet with oil.
Christians have a historical tendency to interpret Bible women’s non-specific sin as sexual sin, and often, female promiscuity is inferred with no support from the actual text. The story of Jesus’ anointing by an unnamed woman in Luke is a prime example of our tendency to label and shame Bible women.says Lutton
If you want to label her a sex worker, at least argue your point.