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Humanity’s Balance Beam: Sexual Temptation

August 26th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 2: 16-17  (NLT)

16 Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman,
      from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman.
 17 She has abandoned her husband
      and ignores the covenant she made before God.
 18 Entering her house leads to death;
      it is the road to the grave.
 19 The man who visits her is doomed.
      He will never reach the paths of life.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Well, the Olympics are finally over.  No more mulling through hours of televised competitive heats or marveling at the astounding structures that were erected by the Chinese for these games.  No more moment-by-moment clips of Michael Phelps’ impossible stretch that earned him the gold medal in the 100 meter butterfly.  No more searching and searching for the USA Men’s Basketball Team being aired, only to find that you can’t actually watch them win the gold medal (or at least I couldn’t find them.)  

Indeed, the Olympics brings out in most of us an interest in things that we normally don’t take note of.  For myself, at least, I can say that I do not regularly spend an evening watching female gymnastics.  By the second or third night however, I actually found myself commenting on their form or the difficulty of their routines as if I really knew anything about it– hey, I’m lucky to simply walk to my office without falling down.  I wholeheartedly rooted for Shawn Johnson on the balance beam, hoping that she would win the gold . . . which she did.  Again, not my standard behavior.  

Standard.  From the balance beam to any other of the Olympic competitions, each athlete faced a standard challenge.  The hurdles were the same height for all the runners.  The marathon was twenty-six miles whether the runners were from Russia or from the Philippines.  The balance beam was always four inches wide.  The crux of the competition is that each of the athletes faced exactly the same conditions.  These standards are what determined who walked away with gold hanging from their necks and who walked away with nothing but disappointment.

As we reflect upon this passage, a few things pop into my mind.  First of all, there is something special about reading through a book of the Bible in an expository manner (meaning we go verse-by-verse instead of just randomly skipping around.)  Why is it special?  Because if we skip around, we tend to skip over passages like this one that might seem difficult to discuss.  I like the fact that our journey through Proverbs has taken us (and will continue to take us) to places that we wouldn’t naturally go on our own.  Hey, isn’t that the point of the reading God’s Word- to cause us to change from our normal tendencies?

My second observation about this verse again points to the context and the author.  At first glance, this verse can appear to be sexist or harsh towards women.  I mean, where’s the talk about “immoral” men?  Are we just letting those male, cheuvenistic jerks off without a word?  Why are we picking on women?

Ah, again my friends who may be too swift to leap headlong off the cliff of conclusions, I call you to calm the choppy waters within yourselves by embracing the context of this verse.  Why is it about women? Because the author is a man writing to his son– also a man.  There’s no need to mention men’s sexual weaknesses here: those weaknesses are the very reason Solomon’s writing this in the first place.  He’s not letting men off the hook; he’s acknowledging men’s equal lack of wisdom concerning this issue.  That crucial contextual observation hopefully silences any gender animosity within us and allows us to listen to the truth of this passage.  What is that truth?

Well, it all goes back to the four-inch balance beam.  We all must traverse the same challenges, lures, and weaknesses when it comes to sexual temptation.  Honestly, eighty-five percent of what I deal with on a daily basis with students from middle school to college has to do with purity or sexual temptation.  It’s the “Achilles Heal” of our generation– of any generation for that matter.  It’s the elephant in the room that continually crushes students and adults alike with its weight and worry.  It’s the “x-factor” to spiritual growth or decline.

I literally would be unable to count how many times over the years that I’ve witnessed (often while protesting) a young man or woman who had everything going right for them in their walk with God being derailed by the wrong relationship or relationship decision.  And I’m not just talking about disease or pregnancy– sexual sin does internal damage to one’s spirit long before the external consequences come to light.  Like Jesus said, this issue is an issue of the heart.

Like Solomon, I’ve resorted to just saying it plainly: if you wonder what will make or break you in your life, career, marriage, and walk with God– this is it!  Casually stumbling down the path of sexual “immorality” (which means having a sexual connection with someone outside of marriage or within marriage with someone other than your spouse) will cause us to fall right off of the balance beam.  Can we get back up again?  Sure, that’s what grace and forgiveness is all about.  But Solomon knew that his son could avoid cataclysmic injury by seeking wisdom from God regarding his sexuality.

Oh and don’t think that we married people are exempt from this wisdom.  Our thoughts and intentions must remain with the one to whom we’ve made this “covenant” (verse 17) of matrimony or we too will fall off the beam.  Listen again to Solomon’s adjectives.  Promiscuous  Seductive.  These words have covert qualities– they sneak up on us when we entertain them, lying camouflaged around us waiting for the right moment to jump us.

So don’t entertain them.  Don’t walk down the path that leads to a relationship that is sexually impure.  Not just the relationship, even the path that leads there!   Walk the other way . . . in fact, run the other way! Consider this another street sign on the road to attaining wisdom.  The sign reads: “Wrong way!  Leads to death!  Road to the grave!”  Do these seem like warnings that we want to ignore?

Balance is a tricky thing- it doesn’t take much to lose it.  So get on this balance beam of our common challenge and concentrate.  If you stumble, it doesn’t have to be the end.  Get up.  Get forgiveness.  Get walking again.  These are all part of Godly wisdom as well.

One way or the other, Godly wisdom will “save” you from the ultimate fall.


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