Readers’ Choice Month:
This September, The Park Forum is looking back on readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post today.
Today’s post was originally published, on February 11, 2022, based on Proverbs 2.12-19
It was selected by reader, EN:
“This was really encouraging as a woman. In some circles, being a woman automatically makes you guilty of temptation but this was a good dose of truth to correct those erroneous assumptions.”
Scripture Focus: Proverbs 2.12-19
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
and ignored the covenant she made before God.
18 Surely her house leads down to death
and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return
or attain the paths of life.
Reflection: Temptation Has No Gender
By John Tillman
Much ink has been spent in Christendom warning men to avoid female temptresses. Today’s reading, a warning to “my son” about an “adulterous woman,” is one that is often cited. The lessons are valid and needed.
The proliferation of pornography is exploding and prostitution and pornography are seeking normalization, even for minors. The pornography industry, like the tobacco industry before it, taps addiction as an income stream. Physical and psychological damage to customers and performers is callously counted as the cost of doing business.
However, porn isn’t just for men, and men also commonly initiate adulterous (or abusive) sexual relationships. All people need to be warned about infidelity and the predatory industry of porn.
In addition, these passages have been often misused to paint all women as temptresses and all men as victims. The twisted extremes of “purity culture” taught women to treat their bodies like unexploded lust bombs on a hair-trigger. If a dress strap fell off of a shoulder, or a skirt hem rose up too high when sitting down, the lust explosion that could destroy a young (or old) man’s morality would be their fault. Men, instead of being protectors, demanded protection. Women were taught to bear the burden of dressing to protect men’s eyes and souls.
One way to prevent abuse of this passage is to recognize that it sits in balance with the four lines before it. A father is telling his son of the dangers that wisdom will save him from—but female seduction is not the first thing on his mind. The first dangers mentioned are the temptations of evil men.
Sections of scripture that mirror each other like this are intended to cast light on each other. We must widen our gaze in the scriptures, especially in Proverbs, where matched pairs in tension with each other draw us deeper than the surface reading of either one alone.
The picture of the female temptress informs the image of the men of wickedness. The temptations of leaving straight paths for ones that are dark and wicked tell us more about how one is seduced sexually.
Seduction and temptation are not feminine (or masculine), nor are they limited to sexual pleasures. Carnality includes the lust of the eyes and of pride, not just the lust of the flesh. (1 John 2.16) Power, wealth, indulgence, sexuality…nothing escapes the corruption of sin and no gender is exempt from responsibility.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the harp, I will give thanks to you, O God my God. — Psalm 43.3-4
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Readers’ Choice is Here!
We look forward to more of your recommended posts from the last 12 months. Which one helped you understand scripture?
Read more about The Sins Behind Sexual Sins
Many times sexual sins are a symptom of other sins such as greed, selfishness, inequality, and oppression.