This verse is the cornerstone of my philosophy of helping couples deal with affair and pornography issues. It’s amazing that even after Former President Bill Clinton’s embarrassing display of what the definition of “is” is that so many people have embraced his philosophy that an affair is only an affair if someone has intercourse. This is ludicrous. The people who justify this, of course, are the spouses who are crossing boundaries. The spouses who remain faithful have a completely different view.
When sexual boundaries have been violated in marriage and couples come to me for help, I talk with them about their promise to each other when they each said “having thee only.” The idea of “having” here is not that your spouse is your property. It is the concept, instead, that your spouse is enough for you. You don’t need anyone else. If you want certain chaos in your life, just add one more. If you think it’s fine, you can bet your children and your faithful spouse at home won’t. And please don’t call it persecution. Give me a break. It’s called sin and selfishness and if they are your brothers, hurt and craziness and despair and shame will be your cousins.
If you read the chapter in Proverbs above you will see the previous verses before verse 23 address the importance of seeking wisdom and making it a part of your life.
“Keep my commandments and you will live.” vs. 4
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. vs. 7
“Esteem her (wisdom) and she will exalt you.” vs. 8
It continues like this verse after verse extolling the advantages of wisdom. And then we have verse 23 that finally gives us a dose of what wisdom really is. The foundation of wisdom is….(drum roll please…) … guarding your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
I make no claims to know what that means, but if the human “heart” is the “wellspring of life” it must be pretty tender and if we are to “guard” it, it must be worth protecting. The following verse (24) gives us a clue: “put away perversity from your mouth” and in verse 27 we are told to “keep your foot from evil” and then to illustrate what evil is chapter 5 and 6 talk mostly about avoiding sexual activities outside of marriage of whatever stripe.
But Solomon, our guide in Proverbs, is not trying to be a naysayer and take our fun away. He’s trying to spare us trouble. He says we are to “be captivated” by the love of your wife and to “rejoice in the wife of your youth.” In this is honor and blessing. You want trouble? You want misery? You want to ruin your life? Then dink around outside your marriage. Here’s a few choice words he uses to describe the result (in chapters 5 and 6):
“bitter as gall”
“sharp as a double-edged sword”
“feet go down to death”
“steps lead to the grave”
“no thought to the way of life”
“paths are crooked”
“give your strength to others”
“strangers feast on your wealth”
“at the end of your life you will groan”
“brink of utter ruin”
“cords of his sin hold him fast”
“he will die for lack of discipline”
“led astray by his own great folly”
“reduces you to a loaf of bread”
“preys upon your very life”
“no one who touches her (prostitute) will go unpunished”
“blows and disgrace are his lot”
“shame will never be wiped away”
Unfortunately, most of the people who see me on these issues have already crossed the boundaries and the list above starts to happen to them and they want some help putting their lives back in order. It isn’t easy. But I say it’s impossible unless they learn to guard their heart. It starts there. It’s worth protecting.