This morning in my Bible reading I came across the most interesting passage about sexuality. The first nine chapters of Proverbs are spoken from the perspective of a father wanting to pass down wise advice to his son. In chapter 5, the father starts speaking about the dangers of sexual immorality and says this ::
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.
There’s something really interesting about the wordplay in this poem. When it encourages a man to be “intoxicated always” in the love of his wife, this could also be translated to be “led astray." It’s implying a sense of being swept away with love for his wife. But then at the end of the passage, it compares this blessed intoxication with the dangers of sexual immorality, which leads a man astray. The ESV Study Bible notes that “there is an ironic contrast of the two kinds of being ‘led astray’—one into delight and the other into destruction."
I think this is what Lauren F. Winner was referring to in her book Real Sex ::
This is why it is hard to discuss Christian sexual this abstracted from Christian social and marital ethics. When it comes to sex, one cannot leave out marriage. The NO to sex outside marriage seems arbitrary and cruel apart from the Creator’s YES to sex within marriage. Indeed, one can say that in Christianity’s vocabulary the only real sex is the sex that happens in a marriage; the faux sex that goes on outside marriage is not really sex at all. The physical coming together that happens between two people who are not married is only a distorted imitation of sex, as Walt Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort is only a simulation of real wilderness.
Even though a man having sex with his wife and a man having sex with his girlfriend are both having sex, two very different things are happening. One is the path to delight, the other is the path to destruction. One is real sex, the other is “faux sex." One is a glorious yes, the other is a definitive no. One is meant for your enjoyment and good, the other will harm you.
What about you? Is this the way you think of sex? Does sex before marriage strike you as being entirely different than sex within marriage? Do you think the two feel any different? When you saw the photo at the top of the post, did you think of that passion as being part of a marriage or as part of an affair? Do you agree that one kind is real and the other is fake? What are your thoughts on Proverbs 5? Do you like the idea of sex being given as a source of delight and intoxication? Share your thoughts!
(Top photo via Pinterest)