Consequences of Sexual Sin
Text: Proverbs 6:20-35
Pay Attention so You Can Be Guided
Another critical section is coming up. It is really the fifth thing that is done without proper forethought. Yet, this one is so prevalent, it deserves a fuller discussion and you can’t sleep through this discussion. Emphasis is given by using “bookends.” It starts by discussing commandments and instruction in verse 20 and ends with commandments and instruction in verse 23.
Retaining teaching takes constant effort. Almost nothing can be learned just once and then always remembered (James 1:21-25). You have to work at holding on to the teachings, no one can just give them to you. The word “bind” in Proverbs 6:21 is the Hebrew word qasherem, the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:8-9, which also discusses remembering the Law.
The reason to hang onto the commandments is given as a list:
“When you roam, they will lead you;
When you sleep, they will keep you;
And when you awake , they will speak with you.” (Proverbs 6:22).
This again is similar to Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:7-9 presents the role of the teacher in instructing, while Proverbs 6:21-22 presents the role of the student in learning.
The teachings of your father and mother are personified as nursemaid to a young child, guiding, guarding, and reminding the child. The Law is a guide, protector, and companion to those who hold to the Law.
Proverbs 6:23 forms a climatic list with the conclusion in verse 24:
“For the commandment is a lamp
And the teaching is light;
And reproofs for discipline are the way of life
To keep you from the evil woman,
From the flattering tongue of a seductress.” (Proverbs 6:23-24).
Commandments tell us what to do – positive instruction if you would. Teachings are both positive and negative instruction. Reproofs are negative instruction – telling you what you are doing wrong. A lamp is a single source of light, but it isn’t as bright as light found in the day time, but neither are as figuratively bright as following God’s way (Proverbs 4:18). It takes a balanced approach to learning in order to grow and there is no getting around the fact that disciplinary reproofs are necessary for the greatest gains.
When followed, these forms of teaching will keep a person from the seductress and the dangers she presents.
- What are the differences between commandments, instruction, and reproof?
- Not all parents are good parents? Does this apply to the teachings of a bad parent?
- When is light most needed?
How an Immoral Woman Operates
As mentioned before the seductress uses words to encourage her victim to commit immoral acts (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3). They are words that appeal to a man’s ego and since he believes they must be true, he accepts what he is being told without questioning it.
Another method is to allure through physical beauty. Men tend to be visually stimulated, so getting them to focus on physical beauty gets them sexually aroused. And when a person is aroused, they stop thinking clearly.
The third method is to capture a man’s attention with her eyelids. People automatically focus on things that move, so by fluttering her eyelids, he instinctively focuses his attention on her.
If a man is aware of how the trap operates, there is a better chance that he won’t be snared.
- John says there are three avenues for lust in I John 2:15-17. How does the seductress use these three avenues against her victim?
Why an Immoral Woman Offers Sex
Ego, or personal pride, tells a man that he is sexually appealing and it is no wonder a woman wants him. But in reality, men who have sex with a prostitute are nothing more than a way to make money and put bread on the table. Despite her words, she cares nothing for the men she allows to have sex with her. Instead, she is a hunter seeking out prey so she can profit.
- Is money the only motivation for sexual immorality? What other ways might a seductress see sex as a means to an end?
It Isn’t Love or an Accident
Many people think they can go partway, toying with sensuality but avoiding fornication. Have you thought about the things that lead up to sex? God warns against lewdness. Lewdness refers to shameless behavior, particularly in regard to sex. It is behavior that is involved in pure self-enjoyment or behavior characteristic of an animal. So things like foreplay or behavior that arouses sexual desire would be lewd. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is thinking about doing something that is wrong and justifying that it would be all right at least in this case. The reason lewdness and lust are forbidden is that they lead up to sex. You don't start something that you can't morally finish.
Solomon points out the problem when he asked, "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn't change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, "But I love her!" Solomon's point is that a man’s feelings toward a woman won't change the fact that they both have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger those desires and they will follow the instincts built into them.
Solomon also asked, "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn't mean to step on it, but you'll still be hurt because your intentions don't change what it is. Thus, the excuse, "But I didn't mean for it to go this far!" becomes an empty one because a man’s intentions don't change his body's drive.
This is why Solomon concludes, "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start intentionally stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when things go further than you wanted. This is also why Paul said, "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1). By that, he means touching a woman in a sexual way.
No Sympathy for Sexual Sinners
Adultery is compared to a thief who steals because he is hungry. People have sympathy for the thief, yet he must still face the consequences of his sin, even if it means he loses all that he has. The implied contrast is that there is no sympathy for the adulterer. While the urge for sex is strong, it cannot be argued that it had to take place. No life is ever in jeopardy when the temptation to have extra-marital sex is turned down. But like the thief, when adultery is discovered, the consequences must be faced (Deuteronomy 22:22).
- Why did adultery carry such a harsh punishment?
Sexual Sins Lead to Harm
The man who commits adultery shows a severe lack of judgment. He is engaging in something that carries large risks and severe penalties all for moments of pleasure (I Corinthians 6:18).
- The most serious consequence is the damage it does to a person’s soul. An unrepentant adulterer will not reach heaven (I Corinthians 6:9) and adultery is a hard sin to leave (Proverbs 5:22). In essence, the adulterer is committing spiritual suicide.
- There are physical consequences as well. People who do not respect marriage covenants rarely stay with one sexual partner. This leads to a rapid spread of diseases (wounds) (Proverbs 5:11).
- There are social consequences. People understand that adultery is a selfish act that destroys families. Even in societies where adultery is not illegal, the adulterer is treated with contempt. And people have a tendency not to forget this sort of thing since it is fodder for gossip.
Finally, there is danger from the rightfully jealous husband (Song 8:6). He is likely to take vengeance, even though that is wrong (Romans 12:17-19). If people feel no sympathy, the husband of the woman will feel even less. There is nothing that can be given to him to repay the damage the adulterer has done. The very attempt to pay him back will only make his anger worse.