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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 decent human being sets out to cheat on their spouse … but it happens all the time. 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 it’s 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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Ralph M

commented on Jan 11, 2013

(My name does not print, so here it is. Ralph)This is so key to where we are in our relationship with God today. It is the guiding actions revealed in the simple words of Christ, "My people parish from lack of knowledge." The actual lack, comes from those who were supposed to instruct and call for the restitution through Gods Commands and laws to those that would not follow His commands. Man felt like God needed fixing in what He was over the years words are given different meaning, re-revisionist historians reflect lies and mans values...instead of Gods. While our flesh is a key to man falling, our very hearts are what God is after, in instruction and obedience, even more. From the fleshly following of hearts of desire and lust, to hearts that reflect Gods values and guidance. In this one area, sex, God created it...but with His purpose behind it. Remember, this was instructed BEFORE sin came in to the world, from our flesh and hearts. The pride and coveting nature of satan, in wanting to be like God, handed down in the same lie he thought he could take from God. And through that process, a division, flesh, heart and thought. Sex, was instructed in only ONE venue. That of the covenant of a man and woman, under the covenant (marriage) they made with God and each other, to obey His Word, follow His commandments and multiply, under His gift of sex. There was no disease, no barren womb that fell to death, in any way. Family, in the order of Godly structure, was perfect and not a compromise with God of 'rights, envy, lust or covet'...we brought that. Anything outside of the family God brought, destroys the family. Society reflects that value. Homosexuality, premarital sex, masturbation, lust, envy, covet, rape, molestation and even murder, to have these areas, is what man brought, compromises and installs in society as normal...not God. Playing with fire is easy to do today, when it reflects the fire won't burn you...and the Word of God lovingly warns us it eternal damnation with the one who passes that compromise as truth...and not the WHOLE TRUTH that God gives no wiggle room to. God did not create abortion to justify immorality, man did. God did not want a child to grow up in a family without a father and mother as their did. God did not create sexual immorality to the point of a man sticking his penis inside another man rectum, used to release waste and disease, man did. God did not reflect mans values to focus on the flesh, man did. God does not lie to us in any way, shape or mean, man does. "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge"...Those are words not meant to be trifled with. God Bless

Charles Wallis

commented on Jan 11, 2013

Good article - we see the terrible results of uncontrolled fire everyday. We also need to learn to "burn" for our spouse in our marriage.

R.l. Wilson

commented on Jan 11, 2013

Very good reminder. Thanks Aaron!

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