May 6, 2021 | Sex and Cisterns
Dear Redeemer Friends,
I placed each foot carefully. Slowly. I ascended up the Mist Trail. I glanced ahead to watch my son. “Go slow!”. On the Mist Trail in Yosemite, there is a granite wall on one side and a 50 foot drop on the other side into the robust and churning Vernal Falls. With a slip, it is certain death. It is imperative that you stay on the path and do not ignore signs and barriers that warn of danger. My heart and eyes were vigilant to encourage my son on the path of safety. I want a long life for him! I want him to flourish, and a foolish or risky decision could be fatal.
Solomon, this writer of Proverbs, had this same impulse with his son. He warns and encourages his son to be attentive to his wisdom. Don’t ignore the barrier and signs of danger! Instead of the lure of adventure with boulders and robust rapids, he uses a woman with sweet lips to depict temptation. Just like with all temptation of sin- it looks like it offers something so sweet- honey- but in the end it leads to destruction.“Her feet go down to death, her steps follow the path to Sheol”.
Yet, sometimes our temptations consume us. They seem to be the only thing that will bring us life.We don’t heed warning signs. We believe we know what we need better than God does. We even start to question His goodness. As an adventurous hiker might say, “Does that sign really need to be there? Surely I can handle those rocks and water- I could get an even better view or picture from there.” We get mixed up. Yet, the proverbs go on to clarify the reality of temptation “6 she does not ponder the path of life;” Temptation does not lead to wholeness, or flourishing, but to death.
Even more specifically, Solomon warns his children of the perils of unhinged sexuality. One where the goal of sexuality was to consume rather than love. God’s Word in the proverbs makes clear sexuality is to be enjoyed, “be intoxicated always in her love” . It is a beautiful embodiment of the love of God, seen in the Trinity, and reflected in the Gospel. The distinction is it’s within the guard rails of safety, “with the wife of your youth”.
God made Vernal Falls in Yosemite to be enjoyed…from a safe distance. He made the trees in that ancient garden to be enjoyed! There was just one tree that was not safe to eat. Between the first man and woman’s flesh, and the enemy of God, Satan they were lured in to partake of this forbidden tree of death. Solomon warns of the same destruction when his children give in to temptation, “22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” He dies for lack of discipline. There are serious consequences to going where it is not safe, especially with something as beautiful and powerful as sexuality. God’s laws are always safe.
Sadly workers in Yosemite park acknowledge once someone begins to slip, those who try to save them are drawn in fatally to the waters as well. They cannot be saved. Similarly with the ultimate consequences of sin, man cannot save himself or even each other. Amazingly, the Scriptures relay the story of One who can do what man is unable to do. One who sacrifices himself so that the foolish can live. We see glimpses in humanity, when emergency personnel risk their lives to save those who were unwise to go beyond where it is safe.This is truly our only hope to stay on the path of life. He is both the fulfillment of all the commandment and teaching and the light which guides our feet.
Let’s worship this Light and hope of our life together this Sunday!
Jen Sanders, RPC Director of Care and Connection
Sex & Cisterns:
1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD,
and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray.