Question and Answer

The Meaning of "Stews" in WLC #139

Question:

While reading the Larger Catechism of the Confession of Faith I encountered a term unfamiliar to me. In question number 139 the term "stew" is used, i.e., "allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them...." Is this a reference to a male prostitute?

Answer:

Thank you for your question, and thank you for your careful reading of the Westminster Standards. You have come upon one of the few uses of the "slang" of that age (1640s), the use of the term "stews." The term originally indicated a public bath house (where you "stewed" in hot water), but came to be used for a house of prostitution. It appears that the reputation of such establishments came to be similar to that which we attach today to "massage parlors" and the like.

The term does not refer specifically to male prostitutes, but to prostitutes in general. The catechism answer reflects that it is not only a sin to use prostitutes, but that it also is sin to "allow" or "tolerate" them as if they were OK for some people; God's law applies to all.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

Return to Formatted Page