Summary: A warning, the consequences, the alternative, and a reality check about sexual temptation in our lives.
Note: This sermon was introduced by a monologue called "Break for Commercial"
There is no commercial break. Real life isn’t scripted that way. Real life doesn’t consist of the neat little plotlines that can be resolved in a 30 minute sitcom or an hour long TV drama. And this of course is the tension between what we see on TV and real life. In the media we see seemingly impossible problems routinely solved in thirty to sixty minutes. But in real life, we see these same kinds of problems take an entire lifetime to solve.
And this is nowhere more true than it is about sex. We all know that we live in a sexually saturated culture. We’ve come a long way from Victorian America, where bathing suits covered the entire body and where a scandal was seeing a woman’s knee. In the 1950s, when a young entrepreneur named Hugh Hefner left his job at Fortune magazine to start Playboy, that opened the floodgates of pornography. Today pornography in the United States is a multibillion dollar industry. Sexually explicit images are also piped into homes through cable TV, dish networks, and the internet. According to the New York Times one out of four internet users access pornographic web sites. According to U.S. News and World Report, internet pornography usage increased by 40% from 1999 to 2000.
Yet the even more dangerous part of our sexually saturated society is the message that a person can act on their sexual impulses without any consequences. This is one of the enormous lies of our generation. Millions of people today act out every sexual whim and they wonder why their lives are falling apart.
The topic of today’s message is "Wise Up About Sex." We’re in a series called Wise Up About Life from the Bible’s book of Proverbs. So turn to Proverbs 5:1 and take out your outline.
1. A Warning (Proverbs 5:1-6)
The first six verses of the chapter give us a warning. Notice the reemphasis on wisdom in the first two verses. I defined wisdom last week as the art of skillful living. God built his wisdom into his creation. God’s wisdom is the like the wood grain in a piece of wood. Skillful living is the art of living with the grain of God’s creation rather than living against the grain.
All of chapter five talks about how to live with the grain in the area of our sexuality. Now because this chapter is a father instructing his son about wise living, the warning is about the "adulteress."
However, the principles we find here apply to all kinds of sexual temptation, not just a young man’s temptation with an extramarital affair. Had the author been writing for his daughter, he might’ve just as easily warned about the gigolo. So the "adulteress" in this chapter represents any source of sexual temptation. It could be a man or a woman. It could be the cover of a glossy magazine promising enticing pictures inside, or an email with an explicit message. It could be a romance novel or an attraction to your next door neighbor.
This chapter notes that what the temptation promises is always better than what it really delivers. Sexual temptation drips with honey. Honey is something sweet. Here honey represents words of seductive flattery that appeal to the person’s ego. Words like, "You’re special," or "You’re attractive," and "I want you" are words that drip with honey.
Sexual temptation is "smoother than oil." This is a way of saying that the source of temptation says all the right things, but that there’s really a hidden agenda. Just like pornography is more about money than it is about sex, most source of sexual temptation are really hiding a hidden agenda. Perhaps its an agenda for money. Or perhaps its an agenda for power.
But in the end, what starts as sweet as honey tastes as bitter as gall. When all is said and done, the sweetness is gone, and all that’s left is a bitter taste. Like a sharp sword slashes and cuts, in the end this temptation tears us up inside.
This is true of all sexual temptation. You see, this chapter is not blaming women for sexual temptation, but it’s using a case study to illustrate the power of sexual temptation. This case study is representative for all kinds of sexual temptation. So it could just as easily be a man tempting a woman, or the temptation of an internet chat room, or a magazine, or a romance novel, or a movie, or whatever.
So here we find the warning. THE TEMPTATION TO LIVE OUTSIDE OF GOD’S BOUNDARIES FOR SEX ALWAYS LOOKS BETTER THAN IT REALLY IS.
What looks as sweet as honey is really as bitter as arsenic. What looks as smooth as oil is really sharper than a sharpened sword. You see, sexual temptation creates an illusion, and then tries to persuade us that this illusion is real. Whether it’s the plotline of a romance novel or a seductive image that’s been airbrushed and altered, sexual temptation peddles an illusion. That’s why sexual temptation appeals to the world of fantasy.