“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.” Prov. 6:23-35
Not all women are innocent. Some are, but as this passage shows, some are clearly just as filled with lust as some men are. They are on the prowl, looking for a man to fulfill their lustful pleasures. Solomon specifically points out their lures—a smooth tongue, beauty, and eyelashes. The smooth words were addressed in the last post along with women’s beauty. Here, special attention is drawn to the eyes, particularly the eyelashes. They, too, have a power to attract. A little off subject, I’ve often wondered where the custom of painting the eyes and using eyeliner and such came from. I’m not against makeup, necessarily, but doesn’t it seem a little bit strange how we’ve just accepted as normal the lengths women go to in order to accentuate their eyes and lashes? (And maybe even more strange is that some guys are now even using “guyliner”!)
Ladies, if you’re reading this, I ask you to examine your intentions when you get dressed and put on your makeup and jewelry—when you curl your eyelashes and pull out your “ultra-long and sensuous” mascara (yes, I’ve seen the commercials)! A woman should look good to the glory of God. But, the tight and revealing clothes, the extra makeup, the extra effort on the hair, etc. what is it for? In your heart are your efforts really unto God or are they a product of your brokenness. Do you seek the attention of men to fulfill an area of pain or brokenness in your life? It is important to determine this—for your sake and for the sake of us men.
Men, women who are seeking to attract your attention because of their own lust or brokenness will always be around us. It is for us not to cast blame upon them, but rather to attend to our own responsibility in the matter. As we learned in the last post, we must keep away, if possible. And we must direct our affections to our wife if we have one. I believe Solomon is also bringing out in this passage that we need to train our minds to have a proper understanding of the situation. This understanding becomes a lamp and a light for us to guide our thoughts into appropriate thinking. The lustful woman is not a treasure, but a curse. Often, our own lust makes us overlook this.
Solomon’s warning to us, from experience, is that all sin comes with a much larger cost than we may have budgeted for. Often, when we are considering sin, we are tempted to minimize the cost. The truth is that the cost will actually be above anything we would expect. We may minimize the sin as just a little burning ember, but the reality is that we will be carrying a whole armload of hot coals. And we will be sure to be burned. We may minimize that the cost will be minimal—equal to but a loaf of measly bread—but the reality is that an angry wife can be deadly if she finds out (which she will eventually)! We may minimize and rationalize that it is no worse than the thief who steals when he’s hungry, but the reality is that when we are exposed (which we will be eventually), we will be despised much more than the common thief. In fact, in adultery, the disgrace never seems to go away. The vengeance of the husband whose wife we have stolen will also be long-lasting. His wrath will not be quenched no matter how much we may offer to him in recompense. No amount of pleading or bargaining can pacify a man whose well has been stolen from.
So, overall the message I see here for those struggling with lust or temptation to adultery is that we must consider the actual cost. We must recognize our tendency to minimize and must, instead, intentionally compensate that the true cost may be considered. There is a common strategy in treatment that has to do with focusing on the long-term benefits more than the short-term. The tendency of addicts is to focus on the reverse. An addict feels that he/she cannot live without his/her drug of choice, whatever that may be. They become so focused on the short-term that they force the long-term results out of their minds. They are willing to exchange the long-term consequences that come with their actions for a brief time of pleasure. Solomon has masterfully presented the long-term consequences as a focus that must be considered. We would do well to heed his wise counsel and give it thought in the context of our temptations to sin.