Tim preached us an excellent and powerful sermon from Proverbs 5 this past Sunday at Cowley Church Community. Applying the chapter broadly, he addressed the 'pornification' of contemporary culture - something which I see the BBC is just waking up to. It's important stuff, and it's important that we face up to it as churches and families.
This morning I started work on Proverbs 6, and of course that chapter too ends in a discussion of the dangers of adultery. And it's there again in chapter 7. Why this heavy emphasis?
I think the answer has something to do with the way wisdom is presented in Proverbs, and something to do with the whole Bible story. In terms of the portrayal of wisdom in Proverbs, the fact that she is personified in chapter 8 giving a directly contrary appeal to the loose woman of chapter 7 is indicative. The adulteress represents folly, the life lived without wisdom and without reference to the God of wisdom. But why? Well, wisdom is often represented in the early chapters of Proverbs as faithfulness to the received teaching. I give you good teaching, says the father - don't forsake it! Don't forget it! Wisdom is being faithful to the wise teaching handed down, and not flirting with new ideas. (This is not reactionary; it is about the father handing down the covenant testimonies of God, not just the received wisdom of the ages). Adultery is the sexual counterpart of folly, forsaking what is good and what is yours for something else that is both forbidden and harmful.
And in the big story of the Bible, isn't that what's always going on? Adam is unfaithful to God; humanity forgets God; Israel deserts God. Adultery, adultery, adultery. Hence the appeal of the apostle Paul - I betrothed you to Christ, to be spotless for him! Don't desert him!
In a culture where adultery, and sexual immorality more widely, are rampant, we need to realise that behind the scenes this is not because of sexual liberation of any kind. It is because we have betrayed our God, and been unfaithful to him. Unfaithfulness breeds unfaithfulness.