Seduction and the Snowball Effect
For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.
And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home … She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him:
“I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey …”
With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast … he does not know that it will cost him his life. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death. … Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. (Proverbs 7:7-27)
Whoever thinks the Bible is out-of-touch with modern life probably has not read this passage. This scene could be the screenplay for any R-rated movie, a vivid picture of seduction as a young man decides to sleep with another man’s wife.
The scene captures the compounding nature of sexual sin: like a snowball rolling downhill, a series of lapses, rationalizations, and eventually willful blindness leads to disaster. He wanders in the street at night, taking himself out of the public eye and therefore outside accountability. She greets him boldly with a kiss, and then makes her play for him.
She has made sacrifices to God, she says, making it sound as if they are in a state of innocence, diverting the attention away from what they are about to do. And she has been seeking for him – certainly he must know how important he is to her – doesn’t he? – the key to her happiness.
Then she presses home the charm with a series of images – a covered couch, colorful linens, fragrant spices – how could he refuse such a thrilling invitation? And finally the closer: her husband is far from home; their illicit romance is secret and cost-free. But for as enticing as all this may be, our narrator has the final word, lamenting that this encounter in the darkness will have an even darker ending: he is an “ox going to his own slaughter.”
As we’ve already seen in Proverbs, wisdom requires doing the right thing right away. It is crucial to resist temptation at the beginning of this chain of events, before the seductive power of sin overwhelms our defenses. Say no to the immoral thought before it becomes a daydream; say no to going to the place of temptation before you’re outside of accountability; say no to an advance before it becomes irresistible.
To speak in this way is not legalistic, but wise. Christianity teaches that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That is, our operating assumption is that everyone is susceptible to corrupted desires, and so fighting for holiness is something we need to do early and often.
The good news for those who have put their faith in Christ is that there is supernatural help available for fighting temptation. A combination of God’s wisdom through Scripture, God’s forgiveness through Christ, and God’s strength through his Spirit is what we need to avoid disaster. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians (who were famous for sexual brokenness): “No temptation has faced you except what is not common to all mankind. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
So today, don’t be blind to the compounding effect of temptation. Ask for God’s power and wisdom to protect you and others from the outset. And rejoice that the God you serve loves to answer that prayer.
Father, thank you for this scene from Proverbs and the warning of how irresistible sin can become. Purify my mind and desires to choose the wise path right away. By your Spirit, give me the power to walk faithfully with you. In Christ’s Name, Amen.