“That can’t happen to me.”
“I would never do that!”
“I’m not that kind of person.”
“I know I would never make a decision like that.”
“There is no way we would end up there.”
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Nearly one half.
Almost fifty percent of married men and women, who stood before others and made vows of fidelity, commitment, and love; fifty percent who would have said, “I would never do that!”…did that.
One of the things that I love about the Bible is that it does not shy away from some of the most difficult aspects of a very sinful humanity. It speaks with clarity, boldness, insight, frankness, and courage. Further, I love that in this particular instance, here in Proverbs 5, we are hearing the gentle, pleading, and yet firm words of direction and warning from a father to a son.
An important note here—if you are a woman reading this chapter (and other’s like it in Proverbs), please don’t be offended, as if Solomon is portraying all women here in this bit of counsel. As if all men should be afraid of and able to blame women for their sin. He is not doing that. He is describing an adulteress. You could switch the roles here quite easily, and imagine Solomon addressing his daughter, warning against an adulterer.
So, if you haven’t read Proverbs 5 yet, please go read it now.
(queue quiet piano music…)
Note the first words from the father’s mouth, “My son, be attentive to my wisdom.” (Proverbs 5:1)
That means you, dear reader. Whether you are married or not married, this wisdom applies to you. For the former, this wisdom will protect your marriage right now; for the latter, this wisdom will protect the marriage you may someday enter into.
Don’t be so prideful, thinking you are above this, better than this, immune to this. That will be your first step toward the destruction of adultery. Pride goes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18). I’m pretty sure that that 50% thought the same way, and look where that got them.
As a pastor, I can tell you far too many stories of couples in the church that have found themselves here. Couples who never thought they would be here. Couples that I never thought would be here. Walking with people who have fallen into the kind of destruction this father is warning against is some of the most excruciating ministry I’ve ever been involved with. I have sat with men who have groaned, with the feeling of their flesh and bodies almost consumed, and spoken just like this,
“12 How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
(Proverbs 5:12-14, English Standard Version)
Listen, dear friend. The complexity of this cannot be fully dealt with in a little article like this. I get that. Books have been written. Helpful books. But let me at least say this here.
Adultery. Does. Not. Pay.
It will not get you what you are looking for.
If you are considering it right now, please, stop for a moment. If you are thinking you can get away with it, that no one will know, you can’t.
He will know.
Your Father will know.
Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore?
for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?
Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make;
he’s aware of every step you take.
The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.
(Proverbs 5:20-23, The Message)
Dear friend, maybe you are reading this, and you are planning, considering, pondering, imagining, or fantasizing about this destructive path.
Or maybe you are reading this, blissfully married, “drinking from your own cistern” (5:15), “rejoicing in the [spouse] of your youth” (5:18), and “intoxicated always in [your spouse’s] love” (5:19).
And don’t try to be attentive alone. One of Satan’s most effective strategies is to isolate you from others. Every marriage needs the encouragement found in God-centered, Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled, Bible-saturated friends. Either way—tempted or contented—make sure your marriage is open to others, allowing them to strengthen you and keep you in the way of wisdom.
It is only on that path that you will find a good life. The happiness you are longing for. And while this little article may not be able to accomplish much, I am completely confident that this one little, Spirit-empowered chapter can.
This isn’t necessarily a breezy, happy, cheery text to take in today.
It’s weighty, sobering, and if we would honestly meditate upon it, quite disturbing. This is some of the darkest sin imaginable that can give birth to some of the most destructive actions possible. Grab our attention, Father. Keep us and guard us from sin. Show us the way to true contentment and a good life. We don’t want to end our days in utter ruin, our lives in a heap of rubble at the end of a dead end street. Please! Set our eyes always on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, so that we may live in the intoxicating place of committed, married love—either now, or in the future, if that should be part of the plan you have for us.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: ch. 6
Aug. 20: ch. 7
Aug. 21: ch. 8
Aug. 22: ch. 9
Aug. 23: ch. 10
Aug. 24: ch. 11
Aug. 25: ch. 12
Aug. 26: ch. 13
Aug. 27: ch. 14
Aug. 28: ch. 15
Aug. 29: ch. 16
Aug. 30: ch. 17
Aug. 31: ch. 18
Sept. 1: ch. 19
Sept. 2: ch. 20
Sept. 3: ch. 21
Sept. 4: ch. 22
Sept. 5: ch. 23
Sept. 6: ch. 24
Sept. 7: ch. 25
Sept. 8: ch. 26
Sept. 9: ch. 27
Sept. 10: ch. 28
Sept. 11: ch. 29
Sept. 12: ch. 30
Sept. 13: ch. 31
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.