Exodus 21:22-23:13; Matthew 24:1-28; Psalm 29:1-11; Proverbs 7:6-23
One of the other ladies involved in this blog sent me a text today, essentially wishing me luck as I wrote this post. I hadn't yet read today's readings, so I didn't really know why she bade me well, but once I cracked open today, I understood. We're looking at somewhat obscure laws regarding goring bulls and restitution for theft in the Old Testament and warnings about the end of the age in the New Testament.
But as I sat with the text a little more and re-read some of my thoughts from years previous, I gravitated more toward the reading in Proverbs. The amount of time and space that Proverbs devotes to warnings about the adulterous woman has always caught my attention. Clearly, this subject was a most important one for the young man reading and learning from the wisdom of Proverbs. This particular warning is a passage of seduction: the woman sets out after the "youth who lacked judgment" (Pr. 7:7) and uses every tactic in her arsenal to ensure his downfall. His collapse, one that always puts me in mind of a balloon bursting or a building imploding, is complete and devastating (see Pr. 7:22-23). This man unthinkingly throws away his life - so many years ahead of him - by considering the temptation immediately before him.
I've looked at this passage in two ways over the years. Firstly, I've seen the wreckage caused by adultery. My husband and I have watched couples lose homes, jobs, marriages, even children because of adultery. Though the sexual affair promised excitement and energy and vitality, the lies couldn't prevent the mess strewn about afterward. I've seen similar devastation as a result of pornography as men were caught in their youth and held captive by the ease of the Internet and pay-per-view. I worry about the men of my generation, dealing with the shame and hidden-ness of addiction, afraid to confess, be known, and seek healing. So I see the adverse truths of this passage.
I've recently started thinking about this passage in a different light, though. This woman has prepared for this youth. She has dressed for him (vs. 10); she has decorated her home for him (vs. 16-17); she speaks words of intent to him (vs. 15, 21). I wonder if he could possibly have resisted her! She appeals to him on so many levels - sight and touch and scent. And here I am, in my mostly-clean yoga pants and a messy bun/ponytail, feeling good that I might have showered yesterday. (Maybe.) Now, I am confident in Eric's love and desire for me, but I'm uncomfortably aware that I often take his attraction for granted. Perhaps I, too, could pay heed to this woman - not to emulate her promiscuity, but to be more alert to the gift of my own sexuality as I move toward my husband.
Marriages are deeply precious to me - my own, those of my loved ones, those elsewhere in the church. Please, if you're married and in some sort of sexual captivity, confess to your spouse and a dear friend, and then go to therapy for healing. If you're not in danger personally, perhaps you need to have the courage to ask some difficult questions of your spouse and be prepared to hear hard honesty. And, no matter your marital status, be aware of the very great power of your body and your sexuality - and use them wisely for the benefit of the church and the glory of God.
- Sarah Marsh
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