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Proverbs holds a view of romance, marriage and sex that was counter-cultural back then, and it’s counter-cultural now. In Proverbs, the highest possible value is placed on faithfulness and friendship in marriage. I’m not entirely sure those are the leading ideas in culture at large today.

The Danger of Sexual Temptation

Keep in mind that Proverbs was written as a manual for boys, so most of the advice is directed toward men. Don’t let that throw you off though, because even though men were the audience, this stuff is universally applicable.

Proverbs 6:23-26 says,

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. 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.

Proverbs is warning us not to let lust override the commandments of God’s word. As the old saying goes, “forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest,” but it’s also the most poisonous and destructive when it comes to marriage. I don’t know if you caught it, but verse 26 is pretty hilarious. Here it is again, with some more direct wording:

A prostitute may be cheap, but if you’re unfaithful your wife will kill somebody, maybe even you!

Being a pastor can be sobering at times. I’ve been given a front row seat too many times to watch the destruction that unfaithfulness brings to a marriage. It’s horrifying to watch. Usually I’m brought in to help … but I generally feel like a helpless bystander with little or nothing to offer. It’s just carnage. You’ve probably seen it yourself.

No pastor sets out to cheat on their spouse, but it happens all too frequently. Why? It’s not because somebody goes out and does it. It’s far more subtle than that. The seeds of adultery are planted in the mind. People have affairs because one day they allowed themselves to consider it. That’s all. And then, inevitably, they flirted with the idea (even if they didn’t yet even flirt with an actual person). And the momentum gathers …

27–29: 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.

For whatever reason, men love to play with fire. We like to walk on coals and expect not to be burnt. We know the rules, but we love the tease. Proverbs says that’s dumb. Solomon’s warning is clear: We won’t get away with it—we will get burned.

Lust is often compared to fire. Solomon does it here in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul encourages men to get married if they’re “burning with lust.” The fire comparison really is apt.

Fire is incredibly powerful, not to mention fun and useful. The problem is, it’s also difficult to contain and enormously destructive if it isn’t kept where it belongs. Sex is an awful lot like that. Wonderful and powerful… but will destroy everything in its path if it’s used out of place.

Fire in a fireplace = awesome!

Fire in your kitchen = big problems!

Don’t see how long you can carry fire next to your chest. God intended sex, romance and relationships to be handled in a certain way, and walking close to sexual temptation is a sure way to get burned.

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Rhyne Neubert

commented on May 12, 2014

One pastor said that I do not have a woman in my office unless another woman, preferably my wife, is also in my office. Another pastor said when I have a woman in my office I keep my office door open, my secretary is to remain at her desk all the time the woman is in my office and I keep my desk between me and the woman. A pastor can get into trouble if he sits beside a woman who he is counseling and pats her hand or such.

Benson Awhinawhi Of The Redeemed Christian Church

commented on May 12, 2014

While i thank Pst Aaron for this write-up to the fore, i advice every christian leader to apply any or all in ur comment.While we are always warring against the flesh,there is this thing about appreciating/commenting on Gods good creation-including beautiful women..The Bible says that we should not "lust with desire".May God grant us the Grace to resist and overcome.IJN.

Benson Awhinawhi Of The Redeemed Christian Church

commented on May 12, 2014

While i thank Pst Aaron for this write-up to the fore, i advice every christian leader to apply any or all in ur comment.While we are always warring against the flesh,there is this thing about appreciating/commenting on Gods good creation-including beautiful women..The Bible says that we should not "lust with desire".May God grant us the Grace to resist and overcome.IJN.

Adewale David Owolabi

commented on May 12, 2014

Watch and pray is applicable on this issue. The temptation posed by opposite sex is real and volatile. It must be handled with care. Many Men of God has falling by the tricks of opposite sex. Watch out for signs and pray that God uphold you as a servant of God. God help us!

Carolyn Ponder

commented on May 12, 2014

What about parishioners of the same gender?

Richard Scotland

commented on May 12, 2014

I remember an older preacher saying that the time to say "no" is not when you are both naked in bed as that is too late, but as soon as you have an unclean thought. He was preaching on Jesus teaching about adultery.

Rev. Phyllis Pottorff-Albrecht, United Brethren Communi

commented on May 12, 2014

I have often wondered why it is that, in so many churches, the pastor will frequently dwell, at length, on the picture of Jesus blessing the children, as outlined in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18 - but skip over the rest of the story, which provides the prelude to the story about the blessing of the children. In the prior verses, Jesus ALSO spells out His teaching about the sanctity of marriage. In Matthew 19, when the Pharisees asked Jesus WHY Moses had allowed the early Israelites to divorce their wives, Jesus replied - Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so - Matt. 19:8. In Luke 18, prior to blessing the children, Jesus told about a widow who was persistent in demanding justice from an unjust judge. The rest of those chapters demonstrate that Jesus stopped to bless the children and spell out His teaching about the importance of marriage while He was making His final journey to Jerusalem. When I look around at the prevalence of divorce among modern-day Christians - and at the millions of books which are being published for the express purpose of helping Christians to adjust to the prevalence of divorce, I cannot help but wonder if those millions of books are nothing more than a monument which modern-day Christians are building, which proves nothing more than that modern-day Christians are suffering from the same hardness of heart which Jesus found among the Pharisees when He was making His final trip to Jerusalem! Perhaps it is time for Christian leaders throughout the world to sit down and ask themselves - what did Jesus really mean when He said - What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder - Mark 10:9. Perhaps the most urgent prayer which modern-day Christians should be making is for the Lord to heal the hardness of heart which has overtaken too many modern-day Christians - and too many modern-day Christian leaders!

Suresh Manoharan

commented on May 13, 2014

Spell-casting? Another name for Divination? I know of a pious lady, who simply prayed sincerely to our Lord Jesus to deliver her husband from clutches of adultery and her prayers' have been wondrously answered.Her erstwhile errant spouse is a faithful christian and is wondrously used by the Lord.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on May 13, 2014

Spell-casting? Another name for Divination? I know of a pious lady, who simply prayed sincerely to our Lord Jesus to deliver her husband from clutches of adultery and her prayers' have been wondrously answered.Her erstwhile errant spouse is a faithful christian and is wondrously used by the Lord.

John S. Marquis

commented on May 27, 2014

Adultery in a marriage by either a man or a woman is often caused by a breakdown in the relationship. Yes, many men are risk takers and thrill seekers (like to play with fire). Knowing that how many wives offer then marshmallows to roast? Much is written in Christian circles about men loving their wives, understanding them and meeting their needs, however?..goes both ways.

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