Last weekend the US East Coast experienced destruction by a certain female: Hurricane Irene. We tracked her moves, listened to response plans, and rallied our resources to counter her attack. Usually, sea breezes soothe and refresh, and coastal skies fill with pastel palettes of color, but the beautiful and gentle can turn evil. Once past, peace was restored for most, though some lives were forever changed by Irene.
Sexual intimacy is God’s wedding gift, inviting a man and woman to be freely “intoxicated” in love (5:19). Desires are satisfied “at all times with delight” (5:19) when we drink from our “own cistern” (5:15) and enjoy the spouse of our youth (5:18). Physical intimacy in the marriage covenant starkly contrasts stolen delights outside of marriage. If sex within marriage is the warm sands and gentle breezes of a coastal paradise, adultery is the devastation by a tropical tempest coming ashore.
More subtle, less public, yet equally destructive, an adulteress ravages lives. The tempter (male or female) is not only deceiving, but is deceived (5:6). The appearance of an adulteress may be beautiful; her words are persuasive and compelling (7:21). God’s plan for contentment in sexual intimacy (5:15-19) comes up against the Enemy’s plan to take casualties as men and women fall into infatuation with a cheap substitute.
She (the adulteress/adultery):
- flatters her targets, married or unmarried
- forsakes her own rightful companion
- forgets the marriage/spiritual covenants made
Though she may not seem toxic at first contact, “can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” (6:28). Death is her own end, and death is what she offers: death of a dream, a relationship, a marriage, a home, a family, a testimony. I’ve listened to many women share their private and painful stories of how an adulterous affair (their own or their husband’s) has broken their hearts and ravaged their homes. I’ve wept with them as they count the high price paid for momentary pleasure. Our Enemy counts his casualties with a smile.
When a man or woman responds to the lust’s lure, “as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:23). The Enemy doesn’t plan for our contentment; the Enemy, who has always come as an angel of light and beauty, plans to take casualties.
Young couples may think they’re too in love to fall prey. Old couples may think they’re too experienced to fall prey. The truth is that adultery has ravaged many marriages, “many a victim she has laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26). Many have fallen. Many mighty have fallen.
If we warmly embrace or coldly repel the one to whom we’re pledged, God sees. If we welcome (with a glance or an email or a smile) one to whom we are not pledged, God sees. He gives us the gift of sexual intimacy within marriage; “a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths” (5:21). God sees how we use His gift of sexuality, whether we honor Him in our marriages or embrace the Enemy’s substitute.
Never has it been so easy to welcome images into our homes, into the palms of our hands, and ultimately into our hearts, all the while under the adulterous deception that it’s private and harmless.
To avoid the snare:
- Attend to and invest in your own marriage. (5:15-19)
- Avoid and ignore temptation. (5:8)
The Maker of gentle breezes and pastel sunsets designed joy for us in the miracle of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. The Enemy adorns his lures in beautiful, non-threatening garments, with voices mimicking the gentle surf. Don’t be fooled. “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless … For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord …” (Proverbs 5:8, 21).
Passages to explore in Proverbs regarding Adultery: 2:16-19; 5:1-14; 6:20-35; 7:1-17