The 5th chapter of Proverbs highlights sexual sin that is devastating and long-lasting. ♦
If we follow public opinion we will stray from Biblical standards. In a 2016 comprehensive research study, Barna Group finds that half of U.S. adults (50%) agree strongly that “choosing not to have sex outside of marriage is healthy.”
Were you expecting higher?
The research found that generational differences are significant. Six in 10 Elders (59%) agree strongly with this statement, compared to 53% of Boomers, 49% of Gen-Xers and 43% of Millennials.1
Barna’s research results are a little better for the Christian community. Practicing Christians (72%) are almost twice as likely as adults of no faith (38%) to say that choosing not to have sex outside marriage is a healthy choice. Women (56%) are more likely than men (43%) to hold this view. Compared to those who have never been married (41%), people who are married (53%) and, somewhat surprisingly, cohabitating adults (49%) are more likely to strongly agree with the statement.
While we’re on the topic, Barna asked American adults their opinion of traditional Christian sexual ethics, which teaches “that sex should only be within a marriage between a man and a woman.” Among all adults, the top five descriptions of this phrase are “moral” (36%), “good” (28%), “healthy” (27%), “right” (27%) and “unrealistic” (22%). The rest were “anti-gay” (16%), “too strict” (13%), “repressive” (13%), “virtuous” (12%), “unenlightened” (9%), “wrong” (7%), and “damaging” (6%).
With that backdrop of contemporary cultural opinion, the Bible certainly appears anachronistic. But in truth and in the eyes of God, Man is a fallen species, sinful and corrupted, but not irredeemable.
We would do well to listen to Solomon’s advice to his son in Proverbs 5.
Warnings Against Adultery
Once again Solomon pleads with his son to listen carefully to wisdom, which has been the overarching theme of the first 4 chapters of Proverbs. This time, however, wisdom is cast as a dire warning to avoid the lure of an unchaste woman in an adulterous union. In truth, it is both who sin – in this case the woman seduces and the man succumbs in a decision that leads to bitter loss and destruction:
“My son, be attentive to my wisdom…that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a loose woman drip honey…but in the end she is bitter as wormwood….Keep your way far from her…lest you give your honor to others…and at the end of your life you groan.” (Proverbs 5:1-11)
Certainly Solomon is recalling the disastrous adulterous affair that befell his own father, King David (2 Samuel 11). His appeal is for his own son to steer clear of such sin or tempting situation that will bring only regret and “utter ruin.” The consequences of this type of sexual sin is devastating and long-lasting, as befell David and Bathsheba, the resulting child and her own husband.
Marital Joys and Responsibilities
Fortunately, in the rest of Proverbs 5 Solomon offers a counter to this destructive option of adulterous sin:
Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? (Proverbs 5:15-20)
Indeed, Wisdom calls for private springs between a young man and his youthful bride – “the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). Why share with strangers, even the embrace of another woman?
Solomon finishes with the acknowledgment that “the eyes of the Lord” watches all of a man’s path. There is no escaping the toils of sin merely due to “lack of discipline” (Proverbs 5:21, 23). Goodness for all of us that though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
And while many may think this view of marriage and sexual sin is all counter-cultural and old-fashioned, the Bible clearly specifies marriage between a man and a woman, ideally in their youth to enjoy and rejoice in God’s blessings for a lifetime. Those that would contest this might consider, like Solomon, the ways and source of true Wisdom. While Man’s ways are full of selfish acts of pride and pleasure, God’s ways are good, wise, pure, holy and blessed.
Do you have a Biblical view of marriage? Why not?
For just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness…What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?…But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death,but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:19-23
1 “What Americans Believe About Sex,” Barna Group, January 2016.