An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his incredible folly. – Proverbs 5:22-23
Incredible folly”! That is how adultery is described in Proverbs 5:23. But in secular society, adultery is characterized in more glowing terms: “sexual freedom,” “adult entertainment,” “mature adventure,” “free love.” Who is right about adultery? Is it something to be embraced, or something to be avoided?
Look at the facts. Adultery can mean that “you will lose your honor” as well as your fortunes (5:9). Having spent years building a solid reputation for integrity and generating respect in the community, the adulterer finds himself exposed as a cheat. He’s cheated his wife and kids, and he has shown that he is not above lying to save his own skin. Should his wife react by legitimately terminating the marriage, “strangers will obtain [his] wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of [his] labor” (5:10). His “free love,” he discovers, is not at all cheap!
Then there is the unpalatable truth that sexually transmitted diseases are common among the unfaithful, so the adulterer may “groan in anguish when disease consumes [his] body” (5:11). He will no doubt bear his share of shame and find reason to reflect on his own lack of discipline. He may even be wise enough to admit, “I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace” (5:14).
Modern society is certainly blasé about adultery, but shame and stigma, ruin and regret are still part of the package. The allure of adultery masks the reality of moral, social, spiritual, and financial ruin. He therefore takes steps to avoid the adulterous path, to banish the adulterous thought, and to discipline the adulterous desire. He will also nurture the romantic and sexual love of his wife, so that adulterous attraction is not so alluring because his desires are being appropriately sated and his commitments are being totally fulfilled.
Selfishness is the main reason for stress in all aspects of marriage. Unselfishness is the best cure for marital ills. Selfish people want their sexual needs fulfilled, while unselfish people desire to meet the needs of their partner. Selfish people make sexual demands, unselfish people give sexual satisfaction. Any man whose wife meets his sexual needs as he meets hers will find he has no desire to stray, and adultery will be far from his mind. He will cherish his wife and be cherished in return. His honor will remain intact; his integrity will be unsullied. Anything less is “incredible folly.”
For Further Study: Proverbs 5:1-23
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.