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. — Proverbs 5:15-23
The father’s heart for your sexuality is joy. Maybe you need to read that again. God created sex to be enjoyed by a husband and wife. Sex is not just for procreation or for satisfying a biological drive. God desires that the husband and wife be “intoxicated” with the love they share for one another. In other words, heterosexual marriage is the only context where the goodness and power of sex can come together to create a life-giving, joy-filled, and soul-satisfying sexual relationship. This is where the two become one in a way that glorifies God (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Ephesians 5:31).
For the Married: Rejoice in Your Spouse
The father’s advice to his son here is simple: find a wife and enjoy her. Do not share your body with any other woman but reserve your sexuality only for her. This is where you will find joy. When you have a spring of water that provides refreshment to your home, why would you waste it by letting it spill into the streets? It doesn’t do anyone any good for a spring of water to just be flowing down the streets. At that point, the water is dirty and undrinkable.
In the same way, sex pursued outside of his wife will defile it and waste what would have been a wonderful source of life. Rather, the young man should be totally enthralled with his wife. This section of Proverbs is written from the perspective of a father to his son, but this same advice can be applied to young women. This is for everyone who is married: be intoxicated with the love of your spouse!
Fight for Joy
Sadly, many married couples find their sexual relationship to be difficult to navigate. Busy schedules, young children, varying levels of energy, selfish behavior, neglect, or emotionally painful experiences from the past can hinder what God intended to be a source of great joy. If you fall into this category, I want to challenge you. You are not viewing or experiencing your sexual relationship with your husband or wife the way God wants you to view it and experience it. He wants you to be blessed, delighted, and intoxicated with your sexual relationship. Do not give up on this or begin to think that sex would be better with someone else. That’s a lie, and as you give yourself to your spouse, you will grow together and enjoy one another more and more.
It is also possible that you might need healing from the past, that you might need counseling to learn how to connect emotionally with your spouse, or that you might just need to stop being selfish with your time and and your body. Remember, your body belongs to your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). There are many factors in the sexual relationship between a husband and wife, but a healthy relationship begins with intimacy in other areas. You need to communicate honestly, forgive one another earnestly, and pursue each other persistently. Don’t settle for a sexual relationship in marriage that doesn’t sound anything like what the father is describing to his son here. Rather, enjoy all that God gave you to enjoy in the other person!
For the Unmarried: Do Not Be Ensnared
If you are not married, this chapter of Proverbs is for you, too. Do not be ensnared by a man or woman who is not your spouse. Expressing your sexuality outside of marriage falls into the category of the “forbidden woman” that is presented here. Whatever desire to be loved, known, or fulfilled that sex outside of marriage seems to offer is an illusion.
Sexual expression may seem like a means to self-expression, but it’s not. God did not create sex as a way to express yourself. He created it as a way to give yourself to another person. This giving away of yourself means a life-time commitment, where you not only give your body, but you give everything away. Sex will only be truly enjoyed when it’s experienced in the context of a covenant relationship, where you are both known and loved in a safe, self-giving, and committed friendship with your spouse.
The best way for you to glorify God with your sexuality as an unmarried person is to abstain from sexual relations altogether. Paul makes this simple in his instructions to the Corinthians: if you burn with passion, you should marry (1 Corinthians 7:9). Yet, God does gift some people with the ability to be single for his glory (1 Corinthians 7:7). If this is you, this is a beautiful calling and gifting from God that should be used for his glory.
For All: The Lord Is Watching
Whether you are married or unmarried, the last part of this instruction from the father should land on your heart. The father says, “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.” The LORD sees everything you think and do. What you do with your body matters to him. Specifically, whom you have sex with matters greatly to him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and this wisdom leads to a healthy view of sex. The Lord will not allow sexual sin to go undisciplined or unpunished. There is a great price to pay for ignoring the Lord’s will for your sexuality (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
Yet, there is great joy for those who live according to God’s word. There is a blessing that comes to those who walk in the law of the Lord (Psalm 119:1). God’s desire for your sexuality is joy, not pain, regret, brokenness, or sorrow. If you are reading this, and you realize that your sexual activity has not been pleasing to God, there is great hope in Christ! On the cross, Jesus took both the guilt and shame of your sin. If you will confess your sin, repent, and believe on him, you will be saved. Not only that, but he can restore all that’s been lost, which could be in your marriage or in your singleness. With Christ, there’s always hope for healing, restoration, and joy!