This week, several people have spoken with Glenn or me about the devastating consequences of adultery; in some cases about how to save marriages and, sadly, in some, about bridges to happiness permanently burned by unfaithfulness. These words, from Proverb 6, are extremely relevant to our homes today. I’ve borrowed the comments that follow this passage from Glenn. He’s right and these truths need to keep being said over and over again.
My son, keep your father’s command,
And do not forsake the law of your mother.
Bind them continually upon your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
When you roam, they will lead you;
When you sleep, they will keep you;
And when you awake, they will speak with you.
For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
To keep you from the evil woman,
From the flattering tongue of a seductress.
Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.
For by means of a harlot
A man is reduced to a crust of bread;
And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.
Can a man take fire to his bosom,
And his clothes not be burned?
Can one walk on hot coals,
And his feet not be seared?
So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.
People do not despise a thief
If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.
Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold;
He may have to give up all the substance of his house.
Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding;
He who does so destroys his own soul.
Wounds and dishonor he will get,
And his reproach will not be wiped away.
For jealousy is a husband’s fury;
Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
He will accept no recompense,
Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.
Satan makes promises every day that he cannot and will not keep. Today’s proverb involves a promise. It’s a promise of happiness that Satan gives a man in order to entice him to be with a woman in a way that breaks his marriage vow. I’ve been around men who have forfeited their purity, faithfulness, and marriage to this enticement, and I have learned this: people don’t commit adultery for the wound and dishonor of it. They do it for the pleasure, and always, at the moment, they believe they’ll get away with it. As they begin the process of adultery, they attach shame to themselves. It’s a shame that’s difficult to ever leave behind.
Consider three consequences in this Proverb that come to one who violates his or her marriage to be with another. Let’s hide these results in our hearts, so we can remember them if Satan pays us a visit with this temptation.
1. Verse 26: “For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread.”
This can mean one of two things. Either he, like a piece of bread, can be seen, held, consumed and destroyed; or, the consequence of sinning with a prostitute is often that a man will lose everything and find himself begging for bread.
2. Verse 29: “Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”
Why does this need to be said? Because this is the result of a major lie of the devil which so many have believed. At the moment, a man believes he can embrace this indulgence, but his secret usually doesn’t stay hidden for long. One such man said to me, “I didn’t mean to…it just happened.” Another said, “She meant nothing to me, but now my wife is divorcing me. I’ve begged her not to leave me. If only I could turn the clock back, I would.”
It is often true that a person who breaks a marriage vow and is discovered will repent with tears, beg forgiveness, and then fully expect that things can immediately go back to normal in his or her marriage. That’s a childish viewpoint. Trust, which is the lifeblood of healthy marriage, is crushed in a moment and rebuilt only after much time has shown the guilty to be trustworthy again.
3. Verse 33: “And his reproach will not be wiped away.”
This doesn’t mean that God won’t forgive a penitent Christian who has repented. He will (1 Cor. 6:9-11). It means that some sins are harder to forget. Perhaps this is what the Spirit meant when He inspired Paul to write, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
Lust has contempt for loyalty, but good marriage cannot survive without loyalty. Hold on to your integrity in all parts of your life, and remember that no man or woman who ever committed adultery did so while evading the all-seeing eyes of God. Intimacy inside of God-approved marriage is a celebration and, in fact, a command (1 Cor. 7:1-2). But the same act outside of marriage draws the anger of that same God.
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).