“And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.'” — Proverbs 5:7-14
One of the first leaders I worked under would often remind us that with age and experience comes perspective. When you are young, one or two years seem like a long time. When you are old, ten or twenty years seem like a short time. If you can gain perspective while you are young, you will live a much wiser and focused life. This perspective is what Moses prayed for when he said, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
The father here in these verses of Proverbs is imparting perspective to the generations that follow him. In particular, he is continuing his teaching on the dangers of adultery and forbidden sexual relationships. He is telling his sons (all of his posterity) to listen to the perspective of an older man. They will lose so much life if they look for sexual fulfillment outside of marriage. Whatever pleasure they think they might gain will ultimately end in regret.
Stay Far Away!
The first download of perspective from the father is to go nowhere near temptation. Proverbs 7 repeats this warning again. The ruinous misstep is underestimating the powerful allure of what is forbidden. This, combined with your sin-tainted biological sex-drive, creates an overwhelming desire to do what should not be done. You should never think you are the one who can handle temptation. No, the wisdom of the father is to keep your way far from situations and people that would draw you into a sexual relationship that does not bring glory to God.
The second download of perspective from the father is to live a life you will not regret when you are old. The short-term rewards of sexual sin will pale in comparison to the long-term suffering it brings to you and your family. The father warns that you will lose your honor, your years to merciless people, and your strength to strangers. Even the wealth earned by your labor will go to someone you do not know.
Then, at the end of your life, you will utterly regret that you did not listen to the correction, wisdom, and instruction you were given. Sexual sin never stays a private matter, and the father warns that the regret and ruin will move into the public arena. God created sex to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage, and marriage is a public relationship that creates a family. Families then become the basic building blocks of society. When a person steps outside of the marriage relationship to express their sexuality, it brings with it a public dynamic because it breaks down the most basic unit that society is built upon. If you do not heed the father’s advice, not only will you personally reap the consequences, but you and your family will eventually suffer public disgrace, as well. As Moses warned, “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Looking Back with Joy
Listen to the heart of God, the Father, in these verses. His desire is for you to get to the end of your life filled with joy, not regret. The path of life is found in the fear of God, where you trust and obey Him. The path of death is found in rejecting God and his word. His desire is for you to live out your sexuality in conformity with his design for sex. You can find fulfillment in Christ alone, whether you are married or not. Sex itself will never satisfy your longing for lasting joy. Eternal joy is only found in loving and obeying God by faith in Jesus Christ.