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Evil Men and Women: Wisdom from Proverbs
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
The Proverbs contain general truths about common situations in life. It is not always possible to take a specific set of circumstances and apply them to what one reads in Proverbs but the book still gives us general suggestions about various situations that God’s people will face in life. There are many passages that God’s people would do well to meditate upon and make application to in their own lives. The book of Proverbs has much to say about how people live their lives, especially evil men, evil women, and their behaviors.

As one considers some of the passages in Proverbs, men are encouraged to avoid the evil allurements of wicked women. Proverbs 6:24-29 says, “To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.” Despite Solomon’s warning about sexual immorality, many people—including Christians—commit sexual sins.

Some find it hard to believe, but adultery is still one of the leading causes of divorce in our nation. Somewhere around fifty-nine percent of marriages end in divorce because of infidelity. This can be true of men and women when it comes to determin-ing the one who committed the adultery.

Suffice it to say, this proverbial statement is true. Christians need to stay away from close, intimate relationships with people of the opposite sex; especially when the other party makes it evident that they would be willing to sexualize the relationship. Sadly, some are looking for a person to spend time with at any costs including the destruction of their marriage and their family.

The Proverbs warn against people who are partici-pants in adulterous situations. A woman who is willing to participate in acts of adultery will ruin one’s reputation and make them look foolish. Proverbs 6:32 “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.” It has been said by people who have made this mistake that it was, “the most foolish thing they have ever done.”

Sexual sin is not easily dealt with or forgotten by the one who is impacted by its consequences. When it becomes known the person who struggles with that iniquity is placed to an open shame that ruins their status and reputation. The words following Solomon’s warning about adultery mete this principle out to the wise person. He says, in Proverbs 6:33, “Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away.”

In the moment, it might be exciting and pleasurable, but the pleasure of a few moments can ruin lives, marriages, and entire families. Looking at these situations holistically, the words of Paul ring true. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” The one caught in the sin does not always understand the cost of losing confidences and trusts that have been developed in the “bonds of holy matrimony” and even with people outside of the familial setting.

Sexual sins can be forgiven (I John 1.7) and couples who have been devastated by the effects can recover, but it takes time and great efforts at rebuilding what has been destroyed. In David’s sin with Bathsheba, it was more than a personal guilt that David was burdened with in this life situation. He also brought reproach upon the living God for his transgressions. 2 Samuel 12:14a says, “However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme..." While most are not kings representing God, there is a sense in which one gives ammunition to the alien sinner who wants to bring accusations against the church. In our lives, our actions reflect who we follow and what we believe.

Consequently, Christians should understand and practice principles of forgiveness in these situations—even when they are the mate that is impacted by the adultery. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” No one would say that this is easy, but Christians understand the great principle of forgiveness that Christ spoke of in His sermons. Others in the world are less likely to be forgiving and let past sins be forgotten.

Even if one considers the mate who committed adultery as an “enemy” scripture is very clear about forgiving them. Matthew 5:43-44 says, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” If the adultery does end in divorce (cf. Matthew 19.9), scripture and future interactions make it evident that forgiveness is still expected and needed.

Per the Law of Moses and the writings of Solomon, sexual sin was more serious in nature than stealing and certain other sins (Proverbs 6.30-33). While there was a punishment associated with theft, the penalty for adultery was more serious—death. Leviticus 20:10 says, “The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” While all sin separates humankind from God, the Old Testament spelled out different punishments for certain transgressions. In light of this one writer avers, the thief (in Solomon’s illustration) sins to take care of his want, the adulterer to satisfy his wantonness. The thief steals to “satisfy his soul”; the adulterer “destroys his own soul.”

Paul seems to echo these sentiments in his writings. He says, in 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” Clearly, sexual sins war against people in body, soul, and spirit. Even more reason to avoid them!

Adultery also creates problems for the one who is guilty of the transgression. One of the characteristics exhibited by the one whose affair is found out is depression. Sometimes scorned lovers will act in irrational sorts of ways and create misery for the one with which they had the affair. Oftentimes it is about the guilt that is left in the wake of devastating behaviors. Even if forgiveness if found regret remains and one is unable to “take back” this mistake once it is made.

Given these facts, it is little wonder that the Word of God describes adultery as “fire” (cf. Job 31.12). Just as fire consumes all that it encounters, the act of adultery tends to destroy all that are touched by its actions. Instead of the popular culture’s portrayal of adultery as glamorous, passionate, and desirable in romantic stories, it is just the opposite of what our society would have one to believe.

Indeed, the morals of our society have turned the definitions of good and evil into perversity and depravity. Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” We should never reason about immoral situations in the way the world does. Doing such will lead to the destruction of our souls.

Scott, Shelby, et al. (2013). “Reasons for Divorce and Recollection of Premarital Intervention: Implication for Improving Relationship Education.” Couple Family Psychology, 2(2) 131-145. “Overall, the results indicate that the most often cited reasons for divorce at the individual level were lack of commitment (75.0%), infidelity (59.6%), and too much conflict and arguing (57.7%), followed by marrying too young (45.1%), financial problems (36.7%), substance abuse (34.6%), and domestic violence (23.5%).”

Clarke, B.J., ed. (2003). “The Immoral Woman in Proverbs,” Allen Webster. The Sayings of Solomon: Pearls from the Proverbs. Power Publications, Southaven. Pg. 377.
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