• The Explore the Bible lesson for May 4 focuses on Proverbs 5:3-14, 20-23; 6:23-24, 27-29, 32-34.
Although sexual standards are changing faster than the seasons these days, this week’s ancient Scripture reminds believers of fundamental truths regarding sexual boundaries for married people. Television, movies, literature and music either pass off adultery with indifference or even advocate its supposed benefits.
These texts approach the issue from an extremely practical perspective. Even someone who doesn’t claim to believe in God or follow Jesus would have a hard time arguing with the conclusions drawn by these Scriptures. What the Bible teaches in these texts is what we would call “plain common sense.”
A lifetime of heartache
The author of Proverbs makes it clear nothing but a lifetime of heartache awaits people who choose to wander beyond the boundaries of marital commitment. These teachings call on the reader to look far beyond the pleasures of immediate gratification to the lifetime of costs involved in marital infidelity.
The proverbs speak of discipline—the ability to look down the road to the cost involved in cutting corners on moral purity in the immediate moment. Discipline involves the ability to weigh the cost of the immediate against the long-term and act accordingly. The people who would argue strongest against marital infidelity are those who have committed it. No one knows the cost better than they.
Sadly, many in the church live with the private agony of the guilt of sexual impropriety, and those people should be taken into consideration in teaching these passages. The one most likely to commit adultery is the one who believes he or she is incapable of it. Teaching these texts, above all, demands humility and compassion.
Few would argue against the power of the human sex drive. Therefore, one of the highest of all callings is to be the one who directs those drives in the right direction instead of letting them run rampant.
One way to address impure sexual passions is to think of oneself as sitting in a movie. Watch the movie through the passionate scenes. Enjoy the thought of the possibilities if one chooses. Just be sure to watch the movie all the way to the end to see how things turn out.
Living with the cost
Moments of passionate desire may be exciting and thrilling in every way one can imagine. When the movie ends, does one want to live with how the movie turns out? In the end, no matter how great the temptation, no one wants to live with the moral, personal, marital, physical, financial and social cost of being known as one who violated the marital vows.
I once purchased an automobile I could not afford. I had been coveting that model for years as I watched others drive it. A friend who was president of a credit union offered the loan, and the car salesman was all too eager to make the deal.
In a moment of weakness, I signed the purchase documents and drove my dream car off of the lot. In less than 24 hours, I realized I had made a decision that provided the immediate gratification I desired but had also made me a debtor beyond my ability to pay. There are times when, 20 years later, I’m still paying for the car. At least it feels that way.
When one commits adultery, the debt is more than a feeling. Families are forever destroyed. Trust that never can be regained is forfeited. Children are tossed around as though in the vortex of a tornado and often find themselves emotionally and spiritually lost even years later in adulthood. Discipline means having the ability to ask oneself if the cost of the pleasure of sexual indiscretion is worth the price paid for a lifetime. It’s a question that traces itself all the way back to Eden.
My paternal grandfather, a deeply committed Christian, once commented that, even if there were no God, the Christian way of life still would be the best way to live. When it comes to moral purity, truer words never were spoken.