“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.” (Proverbs 5:3-4)
The Forbidden Woman
“Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned?” asks one of the proverbs (Proverbs 6:27). The answer to this rhetorical question is obvious, as is our innate desire for sin, especially the sexual kind. God intended for sex to be an act that honors spouses, and honors Him, but much like other sins, mankind’s creativity for wrongdoing knows no bounds.
From billboards to social media, to movies on the big screen, or the device we keep in our pockets, if you want to find sex, you don’t have to look far. Young children access porn on a moment’s notice online, while some adults form groups with the sole purpose of fornicating.
Our fleshly weakness may explain why there are various passages in Scripture that warn us about uncontrolled desire. One such place is Proverbs 5, where a father cautions his son about the “forbidden woman.” Today, his wise words can serve to enlighten and strengthen us as well.
Whether we are nearing temptation, have already given in, or are seeking to remain strong, there is something each of us can learn from these five lessons on sexual temptation from Proverbs 5.
1. Establish Boundaries (Proverbs 5:1-2)
Living in a world of sin, something we all need is boundaries. Unfortunately, many of us learn this after answering the call of temptation. Too many parents give their children unmitigated access to the internet. And too many adults refuse to limit their own access for fear of missing out. No boundaries is like a wide-open door, an invitation for anything outside to come in.
Know your limits, and don’t test them. Approaching your boundary is a sign that you’re nearing a bad choice.
2. Humanize the Person (Proverbs 5:5-6)
The forbidden woman is a person, just like you, just like me. And just like us, no one chooses to sell their body when they think there is a better way to make money. Only people who have been abused, molested, and broken from early childhood pursue prostitution as a legitimate way to work. The same goes for the woman on the corner of a busy city and for the woman appearing in a late-night movie.
When we humanize people, we stop treating them as tools for our pleasure. They are people with emotions, goals, thoughts, and struggles exactly like us. They have family, friends, and more. If we knew them, whether as a relative, friend, or acquaintance, would we want them to engage in such behavior?
3. Flee (Proverbs 5:8)
Possibly the most underrated advice when facing temptation is to run. Flee. Escape the fire before you get burned. Saying no to sin early on is like pulling out a seed from the ground. Uprooting a tree is a much more difficult task.
4. Know the Consequences (Proverbs 5:9-14)
One reason we succumb to lust is that we either don’t know, or we ignore the consequences. The easiest way to resolve this issue is by ensuring that we not only know the consequences of our actions, but that we meditate on them. This is especially true if we are in seasons or places in life where temptation is higher.
Knowing what possible bad outcomes await can be sure motivation to walk the straight path.
5. Enjoy Marriage (Proverbs 5:15-19)
If marriage is a part of your life, then enjoy the blessing that God has given you. Realize that your spouse will never match up to lust. They will never look, act, or talk like those people we lust after. That’s because your spouse is real. Honor and appreciate that realness.
If you’re single, pray to God for strength to remain chaste and for discernment as to where you can put your sexual energies. Sex is a want, not a need, but no one denies that libido exists. Find a way to put that energy toward serving the community, a hobby, or anything positive that gets your mind off of sex.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
There is a reason lust makes the list as one of the seven deadly sins. Much of humanity has succumbed to the forbidden woman at one time or another, and just about all of us have heard her call. Whether we are talking about sirens from Greek mythology or Instagram models today, lust is always looming on the corner, beckoning whoever will listen. Those who answer waste time, and themselves, chasing after an ever fleeting high.
Let us as a church choose to be different today. May we each stand firmly, soberly, and righteously against temptation.
Further Reading (and Listening):
Photo credit: ©PlayBackMedia/Sparrowstock
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”
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