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Sexy Asbestos

October 6th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 5: 3-6 (NLT)

 3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
      and her mouth is smoother than oil.
 4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
      as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
 5 Her feet go down to death;
      her steps lead straight to the grave.
 6 For she cares nothing about the path to life.
      She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Last week, I had the opportunity to walk through an old home in a historic part of Nashville that was being restored.  The beautiful old house was first built in the 1920’s.  The builder was refinishing the original hardwood floors and had made focal points throughout the house of the original brick fireplaces.  All in all, it was a striking combination of modernity and history.  A tour of the outside revealed an old siding that was obviously different from modern day external home coverings.  After asking what it was, someone told me that it was made out of asbestos. 

The word “asbestos” (for most people) immediately brings a negative connotation.  Asbestos, in the modern age, is well-known to be a dangerous carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance.)  Homes in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries used asbestos for insulation and for other building needs because it was so durable and seemingly indestructible.  

Actually, people have been using asbestos since ancient times.  In the Greek, the word “asbestos” means “inextinguishable.”  Legends say that Romans would throw their asbestos tablecloths and napkins into the fire to clean them. The result was a perfectly intact cloth that was completely stain free.  Asbestos was considered to be a miracle material, but even the ancients began to have problems with it. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder noted a “sickness of the lungs” in the slaves that wove asbestos into cloth or mined the mineral.  One can’t help but wonder how the knowledge that asbestos makes people sick didn’t stop it from being used.  Bottom line is, humanity is prone to put themselves in harm’s way if they think they can benefit from the process.  

This chapter of Proverbs is another very specific plea from a father to his son.  This passage tells of the dangers of the “immoral woman.”  Remember, this isn’t sexist because we understand the context: a father writing to his son.  The principles would be the same if a mother were writing to her daughter. Either way, sexual immorality is an issue that every member of humanity must at some time face. Whether male or female, single or hitched, young or old — each of us should listen to the voice of wisdom concerning this topic.

Solomon knew that his son would do battle with lust and impurity and that’s why he didn’t beat around the bush with this issue.  The most obvious–and most important–factor of the battle was Solomon’s acknowledgement that the immorality was fun.  It had benefits.  Solomon used the terms “sweet as honey” and “smoother than oil.”  In other words, he was saying that resisting this temptation wasn’t going to be easy because doing the wrong thing would feel right.

Wouldn’t it be easier if this whole issue weren’t so enticing?  If young men and women weren’t instinctively drawn to and driven by the desires inside of them?  If marriage suddenly blinded one’s eyes to all other members of the opposite sex besides one’s spouse?  That’s the “honeyed sweetness” of sexual temptation.  Simply put, sin is sweet . . . well, that is at first it is.

Read the rest of the passage.  Bitter poison . . . stabbing double-edged swords . . . pathways to death   . . . yikes!  I’m all about mathematical statistics and though I know that in the original Hebrew there was no division into verses, I still can’t help but notice that in this passage there is one verse about how sweet sexual immorality is and three verses about the horrible consequences that come from it.  In other words, the pain is three times the pleasure.  Wow, that equation wouldn’t work anywhere else in life, would it?  Hey, I’ll give you a million dollars today, but tomorrow you owe me three million . . . deal?

No deal.  Just like asbestos, we mustn’t build our lives with dangerous materials no matter what the temporary benefits may be.  Wow, isn’t this passage a bit harsh?  I mean, come on, the whole world doesn’t seem to worry that much about sex.  What’s the big deal?  From physical pain caused by pregnancy, abortion, sexually-transmitted diseases, and abuse to the emotional turmoil of sexual addictions, divorce, insecurity, and broken homes– sexual immorality is a big deal in the long run.  

You know who the only people are who not that worried about sexual issues?  Married couples who are faithful to God and to one another.  There’s a reason for this: God created sex to only make sense inside the paradigm of marriage.  It may not be a popular viewpoint, but it is still the only cultural example that exists of a healthy sexual relationship over the long term.

Sexual immorality (premarital sex, marital affairs, unrepented lust, etc.) is the asbestos of our culture. This desire seems truly “inextinguishable” in the lives of young and old alike.  And the long-term sickness is clearly present in a society where marriages don’t last, individuals devalue themselves and others, and both genders are plagued by a lack of self-control.  Sexual sin is our spiritual carcinogen and we constantly breathe in the airborne fibers of impurity.  Even if we don’t feel any adverse effects at first, a lifestyle of this kind of thinking and living will eventually make us internally ill.

But wisdom still calls to us.  “Those steps “lead straight to the grave.”‘  How much more clear could a father be to his son?  How much more valid could this advice still be today?  I encourage you, get rid of the asbestos.  Don’t let your guard down and don’t lower your standards for society’s status quo. Remember, society is sick.  Make a firm decision to avoid the road that leads to sexual sin.

It may be beneficial at first, but in the end it is a “bitter poison.”



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