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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Homemakers becoming Homewreckers?

Adultery Destroys Families
by Paul Tautges

Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries has done extensive research on the subject of adultery in the United States. In an article entitled, The Allure of Cyber-Relationships (online affairs), he comes to this conclusion:

…adultery is becoming more common, and researchers are finding that women are as likely as men to have an affair. A 1983 study found that 29 percent of married people under 25 had had an affair with no statistical difference between the number of men and women who chose to be unfaithful to their spouses early in life. By comparison, only 9 percent of spouses in the 1950s under the age of 25 had been involved in extramarital sex. Another study concluded that by age 40 about 50 to 65 percent of husbands and 45 to 55 percent of wives become involved in an extramarital affair.[1]

How can Christians guard themselves from the destruction of adultery? Proverbs 2:16-19 provides some help. In four short verses, we are warned against two characteristics of adulteresses (what Solomon called strange women) and two tragic consequences of adultery.

Proverbs 2:16-19 To deliver you from the strange woman, from the adulteress who flatters with her words; that leaves the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her tracks lead to the dead; none who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.

I. Characteristics of an adulteress (vv. 16-17)

A. She flatters with her speech

The strange woman uses ego-feeding words to trap her prey. “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and smoother than oil is her speech” (5:3). However, God’s commands will “keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of a seductress” (6:24; Cf. 2:16; 7:2). Beware of her smooth words for, “With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him” (7:21). The end is certain: “The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it” (Prov. 22:14).

B. She forsakes her marriage covenant

The adulteress breaks her covenant with her husband, the “companion of her youth.” But, in doing so, she also breaks the covenant that she made with God. Solomon instructed his married sons, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). But, you say, how can Solomon say that? He had 700 wives! Yes, you are right (1 Kings 11:3), but near the end of his life he saw the folly of his ways. He wrote in Ecclesiastes, “And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her” (Eccl. 7:26). The covenant of marriage is sacred and, therefore, must be guarded with godly jealousy. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

II. Consequences of adultery (vv. 18-19)

Charles Bridge calls this strange woman, “The slave of unlawful desire; having no guide but her own will; no pleasure but sensual gratification; quickly she becomes her own and her victim’s murderer. Her house is the land of death…Eternal death is her doom.”[2] Simply stated, adultery brings destruction. The text reveals two ways destruction comes.

A. Her life and family are brought to destruction (v. 18a)

“For her house sinks down to death” means that her own life and the lives of all those in her house will suffer the tragic consequences of her sin. No man, or woman, is an island. Our sin always affects others to one degree or another.

B. Her victims’ lives and families are destroyed (v. 18b-19)

Not only will her own “house” be destroyed, but “her tracks lead to the dead.” The Hebrew words emphasize physical destruction and death, which indicate that it is correct to conclude that sin is the origin of sexually transmitted diseases, which flourish in the immoral and, in many cases, lead to premature death. “None…return again…nor do they reach the paths of life.” Proverbs 6:32 says the one who commits adultery “is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it.” Proverbs 7 describes this blind stupidity in picturesque words: “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life. Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death” (7:22-25, 27).

The most obvious biblical illustration of the destructive power of adultery is King David. Nathan the prophet pointed out David’s sin by telling a parable (2 Samuel 12:1-14). David then passed judgment on himself. At least four consequences of his sin were named.

David’s family would be filled with violence (“the sword shall never depart from your house.”)
David’s wives would be taken and defiled in public (Absalom fulfilled this)
David’s sin would be publicly exposed (what he did in secret is now known by all)
David’s son would die (“the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”)

Now more than ever we need godly wisdom to protect us from the destruction of adultery. Here are three practical ways to protect your marriage and family.

Nurture and delight in your love relationship.
“Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray” (Proverbs 5: 15-23).

Commenting on this passage, Melvin Efaw, my wife’s childhood pastor (who recently went home to the Lord), wrote over twenty years ago:

There is nothing more beautiful than the exchange of marriage vows by a fine Christian man and woman. Friends look on and heaven listens in. In God’s sight they are holy and binding vows. They are not to be treated lightly. They are made to be kept. Yet today many young people plunge into marriage thinking that if it does not work out they can end the relationship and try again and again. God says that men and women have the right to enjoy only lawful pleasures. In Eastern countries the two sources of water supply were the well and the cistern of rainwater. Each house had its own well and its own cistern.

So each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband. They are to enjoy one another only. They are to be true to each other. Some sexologists say that a marriage that is becoming dull can be helped by ‘healthy adultery.’ God says there is no such thing. He teaches that marriages are happier when one man and one woman are faithful to each other, and that in the final analysis sin against His laws can only bring misery and judgment.[3]

Flee lust.
“Do not lust after her beauty” (6:25a; NKJ).

“Everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).

Avoid spending time alone with the opposite sex.
“Now then, my sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her [the adulteress], and do not go near the door of her house” (5:7-8).

But what do you do if you find yourself inadvertently trapped? Learn from Joseph. When he found himself alone in a room with a powerful seductress who sought to overwhelm her prey, “he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside” (Genesis 39:12). Men, there is only one logical way to respond to the subtle, or not so subtle, advances of an adulteress: run for your life! “Flee immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Let us guard our marriages as if our very lives and families depended on it. Because they do!



[2] Charles Bridges, Proverbs (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994, orig. 1846), p. 19.

[3] Melvin V. Efaw, Practical Points from Proverbs (Huntington, WV: Self-published, 1986), pp. 6-7.

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