Still doing wisdom for young men – of course adultery is on the list. There’s a lot of it about these days, and from the tone of this, there was then too.
It mixes morality and practicality. It says a life of lusting strangers is foolish as well as wrong. Mostly foolish actually now I look again. But they bolster each other. It is giving you self-talk so you can work on your discipline.
While not an active adulterer thank God, I know all about the temptations of it. I’d hoped it might lessen, but it gets worse in some ways as you age and are tempted to wallow in mourning your youth. All young people start to look poignantly attractive to you.
The writer knows it – he wishes for guys happiness in the wife of their youth. Mind you, Solomon’s empathy on this subject is pretty hollow, if it’s him. Solomon in all his glory never has a wife of his youth like mine!
The negative reinforcement focuses on what a waste of time and energy it is, how it can ruin you, send you broke, and won’t deliver ultimately of the things that will keep you happy. It gets you to pre-visualise the end of your life and think about all that that you may have lost, thrown away for lust.
It has a sense of the aimlessness of both cheaters which I thought was really wise… Both drifting ‘She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.‘
Mainstream society has largely thrown off the shame of sex outside marriage, but the underlying wisdom of this has held true in that most people spend the majority of their lives in monogamous relationships even so.
Cheating is still regarded immoral because few can deny the pain it causes in service of instant gratification. On the other hand there is little patience with dysfunctional relationships, hence the serial monogamy.
I do think the Christian ethic of the infinite value of every soul has a lot to contribute to expectation management in relationships. If you just toss relationships aside as they go bad, you are putting off learning to love. Chemistry is a flawed ideal for long term relationships, compared to love.
However, I also have known many relationships so bad I accepted they needed to end.
Casual sex remains almost completely irresistible to a lot of people for a while, but also for most unsustainable.
The urge is way strong, but the repetition seems to mean you have to be a little bit mad not to want after a while move on to something richer and deeper. And I mean all the other amazing stuff other than sex life has to offer, as well as richer and deeper for romance.
It ends with a warning that God is watching, knowing all. But it seemed not so much a threat as a reminder of the inevitable.
When five year olds have chocolate around their mouths, after being left alone in a room with chocolate, and they say they have no idea what happened to the chocolate …that is how our double standards, our sophisticated rationalisations over lust, look to God.
To me it has the same impatient ‘can’t we just skip the bullshit?’ tone when Adam and Eve cover themselves with leaves after listening to the devil.
It’s a great chapter, very helpful.