In matters of sexuality, the church is reflecting the world. Even to use the term “sexual immorality” is to sound as if one is from another galaxy.
I get it. We’re lonely and broken, and the promise of health and healing is held out to those contemplating extramarital relationships. The single Christian wonders if he will ever enjoy the pleasures of sexual intimacy. Married Christians seek something more in other relationships. As one woman proclaimed: “I’m happy with (this other man), and God wants me to be happy, doesn’t he?”
Yes, our society lies when it speaks of sex. These lies seep into our consciousness slowly but surely. Funnily enough, these lies are at least three thousand years old, for the Wise Man of Proverbs pointed them out:
- The first lie is that true fulfillment cannot be found in a committed, life-long relationship: “Drink water from your own cistern,” the wise man counters: “Be intoxicated always with [your wife’s] love (Proverbs 5:15-18).
- A second lie is that instant gratification is sweet and fulfilling: The wise man astutely describes the allure of her eyes and seductive words (Proverbs 6:5), but adds, “at the end of your life you groan” (Proverbs 5:11). Though the promise is bright and right there to be had, there is also the regret that follows, often a lifetime of regret.
- In an illicit affair, nice people offer the healing and sweetness your heart desires. A man actually told me that the woman he was having an affair with was “more spiritual” than his wife. She was categorically not spiritual! Those who cheat on their spouses are not nice people. They are selfish and do not care who they hurt (You? Your spouse? Your children? Your family and friends? Your church?). And the same ones who so casually break others’ hearts will walk callously away from you. The Wise Man notes that “many a victim she has laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26). Guess you weren’t so special after all!
- Another lie is that the man who has multiple sexual relationships is some kind of hero, a “cool,” suave ladies man who elicits the grudging admiration of others. The wise man counters that such a man is dumb as an ox and intelligent as a loaf of bread. In any culture neither is a thing to attain (Proverbs 7:22).
- These illicit relationships promise the sun and the moon but deliver only dust and regret. The woman in Proverbs promises luxury (Egyptian linen!), “delight” and complete secrecy. Her words (and no doubt her physical appearance) are seductive. But like a bird or a deer, he is walking right into a trap (Proverbs 7:23).
- Another lie is that all this can be done anonymously, that no one will find out. The Wise Man reminds us, however, that the Lord knew all along: “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths” (Proverbs 5:21).
The world tells us that the primary goal of life, especially in sexual matters, is self-fulfillment, and all other considerations are to bow down to that one throne. The sexual relationship is more an object to be acquired than a bond between two people who love each other exclusively. Common though it may be, these sensual lies are sure to break us and fail us.