Driving down the highway of life or the actual highway, one thing becomes clear: sex sells. Billboards, TV and internet ads, magazines, and other forms of advertisement regularly use sensual images, music, and voices to announce their products. Some ads are so ridiculous you can be left wondering what they are even trying to sell other than sex. What God has created, sin has perverted. What God called good, the enemy has twisted. Sex is created by God, but in today’s culture, you wouldn’t know that. The world encourages all forms of sexual freedom. For the most part, any restriction is viewed as too traditional, restrictive, and even bigoted, unkind, and unloving. Intolerant is the theme word for insults and trump card for winning arguments. Meanwhile, the church as a general rule has gone silent. We’ve adopted the ‘80s Anti-Drug campaign slogan, “Just say No.” We’ve intentionally or unintentionally demonized sex with an overemphasis on “purity culture.” Preaching abstinence prior to marriage is biblical, but that isn’t the whole story. In the wisdom of Proverbs, specifically chapter 5, the sage gives a balanced view of the beauty of sex in the proper context and the dangers of sex in the wrong context.
Proverbs chapter 5 is Solomon, the father and teacher, sitting with his son/student, and having “THE TALK.” Here comes “the birds and the bees.” Now the best advice I’ve ever received about “the talk” is that it isn’t the talk in a singular sense. It is a series of talks. That was such a relief and that is what we see in Proverbs. The wise warnings about sex begin back in chapter 2 and return in the conversation of chapter 5, then the end of chapter 6, and all of chapter 7. It isn’t just a talk in Proverbs, it is TALKS! There are hundreds of good books written about the different aspects of sex. This is one chapter, so we are limited on the subjects we can address. See the appendix for a list of books and chapters that we’ve found helpful and instructive in the area of marriage and sex.
The writings about sexual sin in Proverbs center around one character. She is called “The Forbidden Woman.” Keep in mind, the setting of Proverbs is a father instructing his son, so the wise warnings are approached from that male vantage point. The illustrations and the warnings can feel like the Scripture is demeaning or beating up on women. It is not meant to feel that way. We, the reader of Proverbs, are overhearing a father/son conversation. The principles taught can easily be transferred to a mother/daughter conversation, where the dangers of smooth-talking Adulterous Men are the villains. A few weeks ago, I visited my go-to used bookstore. I don’t buy books every single time I visit (Jen would debate this point), but I often do. I love books and the kind owner of the store knows this. The owner will set aside books for me that I’ve expressed interest in. I recently came home with a book entitled “Lists of Note: An Eclectic Collection Deserving of a Wider Audience.” At first, I had no idea why I could even want this book, but the owner of the store just knew I’d like this one. It turns out, the book is super interesting. After having Jen pull out a few inappropriate pages, I began reading some lists that the book contains. It’s an odd book containing lists from Einstein, MLK, Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Harry Houdini, and more modern folks, ranging from writers to filmmakers, scientists to musicians. One particular list has made me laugh a few times. List number six is from the “Anti-Flirt Club,” established in the 1920s in Washington D.C. Before the #MeToo movement, this was a club established to try to combat flirtation and out-right sexual harassment or in the worst cases sexual assault. The list is the rules given to their club members. There are 10 of them.
The list is humorous and truthful; it’s almost a retelling of Proverbs from a female perspective. The point is that the wisdom of Proverbs, with a little bit of work, is extremely applicable to both men and women. The Forbidden Woman and Man both exist. Forbidden or foreign or sometimes translated strange simply means: Not yours. That’s what adultery is: taking what doesn’t belong to you. It’s sexual thievery. Some authors have seen foreign as non-Jewish, but really I think the foreign means foreign from the ways or path of wisdom. Adultery is a willful abandoning of the path of wisdom. It’s diving into the disaster of Folly. In this book, we’ve already looked at the character Folly, but it’s important to note that in Proverbs, Folly and the Forbidden, Adulterous Woman are closely connected. They serve as a reflection, summary, and parallel of each other. Folly is the leader of Fools and the array of their foolishness. The teaching on the Forbidden, Adulterous Woman focuses singularly on sex. Proverbs chapter 5, most of 6, and all of 7 are wise warnings about her target, trap, and tricks. These combine to make a deadly poison. To stay true to the cultural context and the original, authorial intent of Proverbs, we will keep these warnings in the father-son, male-teacher to male-student framework.
While instructing his son, Solomon tells a haunting story. He says:
“For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” (Proverbs 7:6-9)
This young man goes out looking for trouble. He’s not sure he’ll find any on that particular evening, but he knows a loose woman who is known for her promiscuous living. Solomon says that he knows what street she lives on, what house is hers, and he just-so-happens to be passing by there at twilight.
“He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.” (Proverbs 6:32)
He pretends that he is out for just an evening walk, but that isn’t the case. In his mind, he’s just “window shopping” for something sensual and sexual. What he doesn’t realize is that as he’s casually perusing, a predator has identified him as her prey. Proverbs 7:12 says, “She lies in wait.” The forbidden and adulterous women are not only lying in wait in person but, in our culture, online. Tragically online platforms have become the “corner” where the forbidden becomes acceptable and many marriages, lives, and families have been destroyed. The young man in Proverbs chapter 7 goes for a stroll, in our time, the Simple just go for a scroll. Social media has been the death of many marriages. It’s foolish to believe that you are not a target. We actually have a sex industry. It’s gross to contemplate, but true. Prostitution, trafficking, pornography, and strip clubs are part of an industry that is targeting YOU, not to mention your marriage and your children. It is a multi-billion-dollar business. YOU ARE A TARGET! And the list of people destroyed through sexual sin is sky-high.
“…for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng.” (Proverbs 7:26)
Lyrics from “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals express the idea of a targeted trap really well. Released in 1964 as the sexual revolution in America was taking off, the opening words are: “There is a house way down in New Orleans, they call the Rising Sun. And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy, and God, I know, I’m one…” I wasn’t allowed to listen to that song growing up, and I suppose for good reason. It’s about a brothel, a whorehouse, or more classically a house of ill-repute. And I can’t use that phrase without thinking of poor Mrs. Patmore in “Downton Abbey” when her B&B becomes a topic for tabloid scandal. Places like “The Rising Sun” are targeted attacks. The Forbidden, Adulterous Woman of Proverbs, like Folly, calls out to young and old lusty fools. The Simple “is aimless, his temptress is not.” The target is chosen, and a specific trap is uniquely designed with the intention of capturing and killing the prey.
The older I get the more spiders seem to bother me. I don’t quite have full-on arachnophobia, but I recognize that they are kind of creepy. The study of the Black Widow spider is particularly disturbing. The female Black Widow spider lives longer and is significantly larger than the males. When the males come to mate, if he “is not fast enough when leaving the web…he is captured and eaten.” To kill their prey “the spider sinks its fangs into the prey to kill it and liquefy its internal organs. The resulting half-digested mush is then sucked out and eaten by the spider.” Yummy. The spider only consumes the insides of its mummified victims, leaving behind and suspended in her web, her trap, the hollow remains of her prey. The Black Widow spider is an appropriate illustration for the Forbidden, Adulterous woman. She sets an alluring trap, destroys her prey by hollowing them out, and moves on to the next customer…victim. The trap includes how she talks, what she offers, and how she looks.
A trap is alluring and enticing. It’s also hidden and concealed. The talk of a Forbidden, Adulterous woman or man is like the camouflage, concealing the snare.
“Her speech is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3)
“…to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.” (Proverbs 6:24)
“She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home.” (Proverbs 7:11)
“With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.” (Proverbs 7:21)
“And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters.” (Ecclesiastes 7:26)
With that seductive talk, she presents her offer. She offers an all-night party of food and sex. She even conceals the trap by decorating it with “religious motivation” and religious wording. She flatters him, giving the impression that he is the man she has been longing and looking for.
“She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, ‘I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.’” (Proverbs 7:13-18)
At our little hobby farm, we live trap different nuisance animals. Different pests require different enticements. It might be a can of tuna-fish, peanut butter, dog food, etc. The smell and enticement of those things make that little varmint see right past the danger of the trap. The Forbidden and Adulterous person, not only conceals the trap, but distracts from the possibility of noticing the trap. First, she offers him food. By saying that she has made her sacrifices, “in that culture her statement would have been understood to mean, ‘I have food at home from my sacrifices.’” Normally food that would have been intended as a community celebration, has been twisted to be a party just for two. C.S. Lewis, in the clever and instructive book “The Screwtape Letters” writes, “Mere excess in food is much less valuable than delicacy. Its chief use is as a kind of artillery preparation for attacks on chastity.” This young man doesn’t know it, but that feast that seems like a romantic dinner before a night of guilt free sex is a prelude to death. In Proverbs, she has prepared herself and her bed for this specific young man. She offers herself to him. He can’t resist.
“All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare.” (Proverbs 7:22-23)
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him…feet that make haste to run to evil.” (Proverbs 6:16, 18)
“The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.” (Proverbs 22:14)
“For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind.” (Proverbs 23:27-28)
Yes, she started the day with a religious sacrifice and vow, and, in a twist of irony, ends the day with an empty vow and another sacrifice. This time a sacrifice will be the young, simple fool (Proverbs 7:7). He is her next victim.
The way she speaks, what she offers, and how she dresses are all part of the trap. She is dressed in an enticing and scandalous way. What she is or is not wearing, is like a cheap, flashing neon sign signaling her intentions. She is the sexual aggressor and the laziness of this simple youth in Proverbs chapter 7 is overwhelmed. Her body is on open display, but her heart and the truth are locked up deep inside. She is “the huntress…dressed…to kill.” She bats her eyes and puckers up her lips. It’s all a show! It’s a trap. Pornography is the prime example of this. Everything physically is displayed, nothing of substance, truth, love, or real intimacy can be found there. Pornography is an emotional, social, spiritual, psychological, and physiological trap set by the Forbidden and Adulterous Man or Woman.
“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey.” (Proverbs 5:3)
“Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.” (Proverbs 6:25)
“And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.” (Proverbs 7:10)
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)
The Forbidden, Adulterous Man or Woman sets a deceptive trap, and it has certainly been the ruin of many people.
In Proverbs, not only does the Forbidden, Adulterous Woman set a trap, but she pulls a ruthless bait and switch. She promises secrecy in her seduction and cleverly conceals the cost of one night with her. Like Folly, she advertises this all as free, but it’s far from being cheap.
She promises a discreet affair. “No one will know,” or “It’ll just be our little secret,” she says. She offers guarantees. Often affairs and the betrayal of a spouse are justified with, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” The Forbidden, Adulterous woman promises protection from her husband. She says: “For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home” (Proverbs 7:19-20).
The Forbidden, Adulterous woman promises secrecy, but in the end, the man who goes after her will say, “I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation” (Proverbs 5:14). What he thought would stay secret has become public knowledge. I once heard a story from a friend that a prominent man in his church died. The church celebrated and mourned the loss of this pillar of the faith. A few days later the widow called my friend and asked him to come over. My friend went to the house to help this grieving woman. She needed his help with cleaning some things out. Specifically, what she needed help cleaning out was her husband’s extensive collection of pornography. I vividly recall my friend saying that he filled multiple garbage bags up and put them by the road to be taken to the dump. Even after death, that man’s sexual sin became known in “the assembled congregation.” His widow would continue to carry that embarrassment.
Paul Koptak’s commentary on Proverbs, which has been extremely helpful in my study of Proverbs, was published in 2003. Ironically (and tragically), he ends his teaching on Proverbs chapter 6 with a quote from Bill Hybels, the former and now disgraced founder of Willow Creek Church. Hybels retired from ministry in 2018 in part because of accusations about sexual misconduct dating back decades. Ravi Zacharias, a revered apologist, died in 2020 and was celebrated for his Gospel work, until the truth about his manipulation, adultery, financial impropriety, and abuse of all kinds came out. The list of the fallen continues to grow. Sexual sin promises to be discreet. It’s the ad, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Scripture says the complete opposite! God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Jesus warned, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3). Retirement, death, changing careers, or moving across the country doesn’t nullify God’s warning about sexual sin. What is done in secret will ALWAYS come out. Don’t be deceived by the traps and tricks of the Forbidden and Adulterous person.
There is always a high cost to sexual sin. Just a little rhyme to maybe help remember this point: the FORBIDDEN will always keep the cost HIDDEN. It’s like the fine print of a contract or the litany of warnings at the end of certain commercials where the person talks so fast you have no idea what is actually being communicated. The traps and tricks that the Forbidden, Adulterer uses to target you will always conceal or minimize the long-term cost. The wise teacher warns that adultery exacts a terrible, almost unending cost. It’s the moral version of a timeshare. You get pitched, you buy, and then realize you’re stuck and so are successive generations. That’s adultery. It has devastating consequences.
“…none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.” (Proverbs 2:19)
“…lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed.” (Proverbs 5:9-11)
“For the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life.” (Proverbs 6:26)
“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 6:27-29)
“He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.” (Proverbs 6:33-35)
“He does not know that it will cost him his life.” (Proverbs 7:23)
“A companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.” (Proverbs 29:3)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral…will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
“Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality…orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19, 21)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4)
There is a particularly haunting scene at the end of “The Godfather” trilogy. Cinematically, the movie falls short of the first and second, but the scene I most remember is from the third. Al Pacino’s character has come to the end of his life. The movies detail his descent into a life of crime, cruelty, and misery. While he becomes powerful and rich, the loss of his marriage, daughter, friends, and all joy, come into clear view in the final scene of the trilogy. Corleone has become old and frail. He sits outside of some house in Italy completely alone. The fountain at the center of the picture is dry, seemingly symbolic of his dried-up joy, strength, and power. The shot of the camera just waits as Michael Corleone, sitting in a chair, slumps over and falls face-first into the dirt, dead, and nobody cares. No one comes rushing to his aid. He is completely alone in the world. No love. No tenderness. No family. He is alone in his sin. That scene, for me, provides a sobering visual for the warning in Proverbs chapter 5. Solomon warns that indulging in forbidden, adulterous sin will have dreadful consequences. He cautions, “…and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof’” (Proverbs 5:11-12).
Paul Koptak, so clearly and brilliantly writes, “When you take what is not yours, you can end up losing what is.” The warning against adultery, which in the moment may seem thrilling, sexually exciting, risky, and fun, will be bitter in the end. It leaves a person hollowed out. I have met men in the latter years of their life who played fast and loose with their sexuality who find themselves lonely and depressed. They long for the family they lost and the wife they betrayed. You can see and hear the groan that Proverbs talks about and the sinister, evil laugh of the Forbidden Adulterer. She laughs at the broken-down, old fool and moves on to her next, often much younger victim. They’ve all been tricked.
“This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” (Proverbs 30:20)
King David, a great hero of the Old Testament, the shepherd turned giant slayer, poet, warrior, musician, and man after God’s own heart, committed adultery. He stole another man’s wife. She became pregnant, so David had him killed to cover up his sin. Months later, when nobody knew, God knew and sent the prophet Nathan to confront the unrepentant King. David repented and penned what we know as Psalm 51. Nonetheless, there would be a high cost to his sin. Nathan told the broken man, “…the sword shall never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10). The child that Bathsheba had conceived died, one of David’s sons raped his half-sister, as a result, murderous conflict would erupt between David’s children, his son Absalom would attempt to overthrow David’s kingdom and then tragically die, and David would end his life as a weak, impotent, and vengeful man. It’s a tragic story and the crucial turning point was adultery. His story serves as a sobering warning and an illustration of the danger of the forbidden.
The central point of the teaching on sexual sin in Proverbs is “How to Avoid” the Forbidden, Adulterous woman. The wise teacher instructs his student to hear his words, love wisdom, and avoid the catastrophe that always accompanies forbidden, adulterous sex.
“So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.” (Proverbs 2:16-19)
Here are three distilled pieces of wisdom from Scripture that will help in avoiding the forbidden, adulterer in your life.
“Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” (Proverbs 5:15-19)
“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband…Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:2, 5)
“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1)
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15)
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
“But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” (Genesis 39:12) (The story of Joseph.)
“Flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
“So flee youthful passions.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlett Letter” was first published in 1850. It’s a story of adultery within an extremely religious community. The adultery is discovered when a married woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child. The woman, in defiance of her Puritan community, refuses to identify the man. In the climax near the end of the book, the town minister, Rev. Dimmesdale, reveals that he is the father of the illegitimate child. He has committed adultery. Throughout the book, this truth has haunted him to the point of deep anguish and distress, causing physical damage to his heart, and eventually leading to his death. He publicly, and before God, confesses his sin. During this dramatic revelation, his young daughter, who he had been unable to claim, kisses him. Hawthorne writes, “A spell was broken.” That is the Gospel. Psalm 85:10, says, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” That happened at the cross of Calvary. The righteous, spotless Lamb of God sacrificed Himself to offer us peace with God. The kiss, the meeting, to break the spell. The “spell” of guilt, shame, deception, grief, and betrayal can be broken. There is hope. In the warnings to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul adds, “And such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). The power of the Gospel can bring forgiveness and healing. Jesus died to pay the penalty for adultery, and He rose again, proving that His power can bring dead hearts, marriages, affections, and love back to life. The fictional, adulterous reverend in “The Scarlett Letter” sounds a lot like the real-life adulterous King David.
God knows; and he is merciful! He hath proved his mercy, most of all, in my afflictions. By giving me this burning torture to bear up on my breast! By sending yonder dark and terrible old man, to keep the torture always red-heat! By bringing me hither, to die this death of triumphant [humiliation] before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost forever! Praise be his name! His will be done! Farewell! That final word came forth with the minister’s expiring breath.
King David wrote:
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:3-5)
Praise God, the spell can be broken.
Claire, Belle, Maverick, Ruby, Mavis,
Adultery. This lesson has been burning in my bones to write for a lot of years. And just a heads up…THIS.IS.MY.SOAP.BOX… Like you, my life was burnt by this word. I’m sure if we took a poll the vast majority of the people we know would raise their hands and say that they’ve been affected by this sin in one way or another. Whether it was their Mom or Dad when they were young, our husband or wife when they were grown, maybe one of their siblings cheated, or maybe they themselves are the adulterer. Either way, we have all felt its pangs. This letter may be very triggering for you. For that I am sorry, I can relate. My hope and prayer is that we will repent and learn from past sins. Glean some wisdom from the Word, teach it to ourselves and implement it with others.
Proverbs has so many warnings against adultery. It’s literally the heading of Chapter 5 in my Bible. With so many warnings I know the Lord knew that this would be a problem for His children. So I can’t bury my head in the sand and pretend that it won’t potentially be a problem for my children. So we talk. A lot. Proverbs 5:1-6 says, “My son, be attentive to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion.” (Learn from what I am teaching you, I am trying to help you not create baggage for your life that you will be toting around forever) “For the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end, she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander and she does not know it.” I don’t think this is directed towards just men. Girls, we need to heed this warning just as much as the guys do. What’s the warning here? That whoever is the forbidden one, their words are sweet and smooth. They will make you feel special, they will lie to you and make you think things that aren’t true. They sound like they will fix all of your problems, like your world would be amazing as long as they are in it. I like the word choice of Forbidden, We all want what we can’t have, whatever is out of our reach or different than our normal…man we want it. The Bible warns us and says their end is as bitter as wormwood. What’s wormwood? Well, I’m glad you asked. It is a bitter herb that in large doses can be fatal. Is it just me or is it ironic that Scripture compares adultery to something that is fatal?
It’s the death of so many things. It’s the death of relationships. It’s the death of love. It’s the death of trust. Just to name a few. “Her feet go down to death.” If you chose this path, you chose death. Verse 8 shows us how we are to guard our way. “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house.” Let’s be honest, we can spot people we should be avoiding a mile away, but we like it. We like the attention, we like the words of affirmation, we like the way it makes us feel, so we inch our way closer and closer to their doorstep until we are so close we can’t go back. It’s the old saying, “sin takes us further than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay and costs more than we are willing to pay.” Proverbs 6:27 says, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” We can’t play with sexual temptations and not get burnt. Girls, you should never be alone with a man that is not your husband. Guys, you should never be alone with a woman that is not your wife. You shouldn’t be texting people of the opposite sex, phone calls or emails. It takes just one small spark to start a roaring fire. We must guard our way. How far are you willing to go out of your way to guard your way? Your Dad and I started over five years ago now really doing the best we can to guard our ways and your ways. Not like we are perfect or anything. Far from it, especially him. I’d like to think I’m a little closer to perfection than he is. It’s a joke, people. Tell me we still have some sense of humor in the world?! Any hoot, maybe you can take some of the things we have learned and they will help you as much as they have helped us. We avoid driving on certain roads because of some of the “establishments” that are on them. Does it add drive time and annoyance? For sure. But it’s well worth it. While we are driving you know our code, when we say “eyeballs” your eyeballs close or you lock in on the book you are reading. (Yep, we make our kids read in the car.)
Your Dad has worked to quit hugging women at church because we felt like it’s not appropriate to cross that physical barrier. And when a hug is inevitable, making it as appropriate as possible, even if that means awkward. I’ve told him to become a bad hugger. There are certain men and women in our lives that we know we need to avoid. I know that sounds harsh and you’re probably thinking “UGH! GASP! A pastor shouldn’t avoid people.” I’m sorry but Proverbs 7:12 says, “She is at every corner and she lies in wait.” It doesn’t specify which corners. Corners at church, corners at work, corners at the grocery store, corners at a football game, corners at the kid’s school…he/she is lying in wait.
Keeping our marriage safe and protected is our #1 priority after our relationships with the Lord. We don’t have internet at home. We don’t have smart TVs; you don’t have phones. Claire, you just got your first computer at 17 to do a few college classes on. We have “Covenant Eyes” installed for when you are connected to Wifi for accountability reasons. I realize the internet is a necessary evil in the world we live in. But I have watched and felt the effects of the burns it can leave. According to internetsafety101.org, “Children are accessing pornography via mobile devices.” PornHub said its users watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography in 2016 via smartphones and 11% via tablets.” I can’t even imagine what that number is mid pandemic. Covenant Eyes says, “1 in 5 mobile searches are used for porn.” That statistic was from 2015. I’d imagine it’s much higher now. According to guardchild.com, “70% of children 7-18 have accidentally encountered porn online, often through a web search while doing homework.” I could rattle statistics all day in your direction about how Satan is trying to make this a normal thing. Grooming us to think this is all fine and monogamy in a relationship the way God created it, is a thing of the past. But what it comes down to is how far are you willing to go out of your way to guard your way.
Which brings us to our next point. Guarding our homes. Proverbs 5:15-19, “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight, be intoxicated always with her love.”
We are supposed to keep ourselves for our spouses. We are not to be scattering ourselves abroad in the streets. Our bodies, our love, it’s for our spouses and no one else. I think we all need to be careful with our intentions as we post pictures of ourselves on social media, who is that for? What’s the purpose? How are you dressing when you are out? Is it to flaunt your body and draw attention from the opposite sex? We are supposed to be intoxicated with our spouse. Not every Tom, Dick or Mary that passes by. What are you doing to grow in that intoxication of your spouse? I love country music. Dad calls it my sinful music. Haha. But I love all of the sappy songs. It makes me think of him and our story. Makes me think of when we were young and dating. Whew. Ok back to writing, I may have been daydreaming there for a minute. There is a Tim McGraw song that says,
If I never think about her I’ll never miss her at all
Never wonder what she’s doing Never give her a call
Never see her again and I’ll be free as a bird
But the trouble with never is never, never works
If I never bring her flowers, I’ll never see her smile
If I never try and kiss her, she’ll never drive me wild
And I’ll never feel the need to say those 3 little words
But the trouble with never is never, never works
You get the gist. We must figure out the ways our spouses feel and receive love. Figure out ways they feel cherished. Feeding that fire to grow together. The Lord created sex. He created it for the context of marriage for us to enjoy. (AND ONLY MARRIAGE, so this is for your future selves) To enjoy each other, to express our love and somehow it brings glory to the Lord. Satan likes to hijack and pervert things the Lord created for good. Has Satan hijacked your sex life? Does your sex life need the redeeming power of Jesus? Because He offers it. He can make it new.
Scripture continues in its warnings. Proverbs 6:25-26 says, “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes. For the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life.” I like the NLT version of this verse, “For a prostitute will bring you to poverty but sleeping with another mans wife will cost you your life.” We must guard our desires. If we know Jesus as our Savior we are in a continual epic battle with our flesh. When it rears its ugly head we have to squash it. “The Expositors Bible Commentary” says, “Playing with temptation is only the heart reaching out after sin.”
So the Bible warns us and I extend those warnings to you, I only want to see the Lord rain down His blessings of a beautiful, healthy marriage for you all. I pray that you guard your ways, guard your sex life and that it will be an honor to the Lord. Remember, marriage is a picture of the Gospel to the World. That makes marriage the number one enemy of Satan. Guard it. Protect it at all costs. It is a treasure.
Questions for Reflection
How do you feel the church has failed in teaching about sex?
How do you feel the church has succeeded in teaching about sex?
Do you recognize yourself as a target? If so, why? If no, why not?
What are some forbidden traps that you’ve run into? What was the cost? Wounds?
Have you been tricked? What was the lie you believed?
What accountability in the area of sexual purity do you have in your life?