“Rejoice With the Wife of Your Youth”
“Rejoice with the wife of your youth . . . Why should you, my son, be in an ecstasy with a strange woman?”—PROVERBS 5:18, 20.
1, 2. Why can it be said that the romantic love between a husband and his wife is blessed?
THE Bible is not prudish about sexual relations. At Proverbs 5:18, 19, we read: “Let your water source prove to be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth, a lovable hind and a charming mountain goat. Let her own breasts intoxicate you at all times. With her love may you be in an ecstasy constantly.”
2 Here the term “water source” refers to the source of sexual satisfaction. It is blessed in that the feeling of romantic love and ecstasy enjoyed between marriage mates is a gift from God. This intimacy, though, is to be experienced strictly within the marital arrangement. So King Solomon of ancient Israel, a writer of Proverbs, rhetorically asks: “Why should you, my son, be in an ecstasy with a strange woman or embrace the bosom of a foreign woman?”—Proverbs 5:20.
3. (a) What is the sad reality for many marriages? (b) How does God view adultery?
3 On their wedding day, a man and a woman make a solemn commitment to love each other and to stay faithful. Nevertheless, many marriages are shattered by adultery. In fact, after analyzing more than two dozen studies, one researcher concluded that “25 percent of wives and 44 percent of husbands have had extramarital intercourse.” The apostle Paul stated: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) There is no question about it. Adultery is a serious sin in God’s eyes, and true worshippers must guard against marital infidelity. What will help us to ‘keep marriage honorable, and the marriage bed without defilement’?—Hebrews 13:4.
Beware of a Treacherous Heart
4. What are some ways that a married Christian could unwittingly get involved in a romantic relationship outside of marriage?
4 In today’s debased moral climate, many people “have eyes full of adultery and [are] unable to desist from sin.” (2 Peter 2:14) They willfully pursue romantic relationships outside of marriage. In some lands a large number of women have entered the workforce, and the gender mix has created fertile soil for improper office romances to develop. Then, too, Internet chat rooms have made it easy for even the most timid of individuals to strike up intimate friendships online. Many married people fall into such traps without realizing what is happening to them.
5, 6. How did one Christian woman become ensnared in a dangerous situation, and what do we learn from this?
5 Consider how a Christian whom we will call Mary got caught in a situation that brought her dangerously close to committing sexual immorality. Her husband, who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, displayed very little affection for his family. Mary recalls a time some years ago when she met one of her husband’s coworkers. The man was quite mannerly, and on a later occasion, he even expressed interest in Mary’s religious beliefs. “He was so nice, so different from my husband,” she says. Soon Mary and her husband’s coworker were romantically involved. “I haven’t committed adultery,” she reasoned, “and the man is interested in the Bible. Maybe I can help him.”
6 Before her romantic attachment led to adultery, Mary came to her senses. (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:19) Her conscience began working, and she proceeded to set matters straight. Mary’s experience illustrates that “the heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) The Bible admonishes us: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart.” (Proverbs 4:23) How can we do so?
‘The Shrewd One Proceeds to Conceal Himself’
7. When helping someone with marital difficulties, following what Scriptural advice will be a safeguard?
7 “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall,” wrote the apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 10:12) And Proverbs 22:3 states: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself.” Rather than overconfidently thinking, ‘Nothing will happen to me,’ you are wise to anticipate situations that could lead to problems. For example, avoid becoming the sole confidant of someone of the opposite sex who is experiencing perplexing difficulties in marriage. (Proverbs 11:14) Tell the person that marital problems are best discussed with his mate, with a mature Christian of the same sex who wants his union to succeed, or with the elders. (Titus 2:3, 4) The elders in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses set a fine example in this regard. When an elder needs to speak privately with a Christian sister, he does so in a public setting—such as at the Kingdom Hall.
8. What caution is essential in the workplace?
8 In the workplace and elsewhere, beware of situations that might foster intimacy. For example, spending extra hours working closely with someone of the opposite sex can set the stage for temptation. As a married man or woman, you should make it clear by your speech and your demeanor that you are simply not available. As one who pursues godly devotion, you would certainly not want to invite undue attention by flirting or by being immodest in your dress and grooming. (1 Timothy 4:8; 6:11; 1 Peter 3:3, 4) Having photos of your marriage mate and children around the workplace will serve as a visual reminder to you and to others that you have priorities. Be determined never to encourage—or even tolerate—seductive overtures from another.—Job 31:1.
“See Life With the Wife Whom You Love”
9. What chain of events can make a new romantic relationship alluring?
9 Safeguarding the heart calls for more than avoiding dangerous situations. A romantic attraction to someone outside the marriage could be an indication that a husband and a wife are not attentive to each other’s needs. It might be that a wife is continually ignored or a husband is constantly criticized. Suddenly another person—whether encountered on the job or even in the Christian congregation—seems to possess the very qualities that are lacking in one’s mate. Soon a bond forms, and the new relationship becomes almost irresistibly alluring. This subtle chain of events confirms the truthfulness of the Bible’s statement: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.”—James 1:14.
10. How can husbands and wives solidify their relationship?
10 Rather than looking outside the marriage to satisfy their desires—whether for affection, for friendship, or for support during a challenging ordeal—husbands and wives should work to solidify a loving relationship with their mate. By all means, then, spend time together, and draw closer to each other. Reflect on what caused you to fall in love. Try to recapture the warmth you felt toward the person who became your spouse. Think of the good times you have enjoyed together. Pray to God about the matter. The psalmist David implored Jehovah: “Create in me even a pure heart, O God, and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.” (Psalm 51:10) Be determined to ‘see life with the wife whom you love all the days of your life that God has given you under the sun.’—Ecclesiastes 9:9.
11. What role do knowledge, wisdom, and discernment play in strengthening the marriage bond?
11 Not to be overlooked in strengthening the marriage bond is the value of knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. Proverbs 24:3, 4 states: “By wisdom a household will be built up, and by discernment it will prove firmly established. And by knowledge will the interior rooms be filled with all precious and pleasant things of value.” Included among the precious things filling a happy household are such qualities as love, loyalty, godly fear, and faith. Acquiring these calls for the knowledge of God. Married couples, then, should be serious students of the Bible. And how important are wisdom and discernment? Successfully coping with day-to-day problems requires wisdom, the ability to apply Scriptural knowledge. A person with discernment is able to understand the thoughts and feelings of his or her mate. (Proverbs 20:5) “My son, to my wisdom O do pay attention,” says Jehovah, through Solomon. “To my discernment incline your ears.”—Proverbs 5:1.
When There Is “Tribulation”
12. Why is it not surprising that married couples experience problems?
12 No marriage is perfect. The Bible even says that husbands and wives will have “tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) Anxieties, sickness, persecution, and other factors can place stress upon a marriage. When problems arise, however, you need to look for solutions together as loyal marriage mates seeking to please Jehovah.
13. In what areas can a husband and a wife analyze themselves?
13 What if the marriage is under stress because of the way that the mates treat each other? The search for a solution takes effort. For instance, it may be that a pattern of unkind speech has crept into their marriage and now characterizes it. (Proverbs 12:18) As discussed in the preceding article, this can have devastating effects. A Bible proverb says: “Better is it to dwell in a wilderness land than with a contentious wife along with vexation.” (Proverbs 21:19) If you are a wife in such a marriage, ask yourself, ‘Is my disposition making it difficult for my husband to be around me?’ The Bible tells husbands: “Keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19) If you are a husband, ask yourself, ‘Is my demeanor cold, tempting my wife to seek comfort elsewhere?’ Of course, there is no excuse for sexual immorality. Yet, the fact that such a tragedy could happen is good reason to discuss problems openly.
14, 15. Why is looking outside of marriage not the answer to marital problems?
14 Seeking solace in a romance outside of marriage is not the answer to marital problems. Where could such a relationship lead? To a new and better marriage? Some may think so. ‘After all,’ they argue, ‘this person has the very qualities I need in a mate.’ But such reasoning is false, for anyone who would leave his or her mate—or encourage you to leave yours—has a serious disregard for the sanctity of marriage. It is unreasonable to expect that relationship to result in a better marriage.
15 Mary, mentioned earlier, gave sober thought to the consequences of her course, including the possibility of causing herself or someone else to lose God’s favor. (Galatians 6:7) “As I began examining my feelings for my husband’s coworker,” she says, “I realized that if there was ever a chance that this man could come to a knowledge of the truth, I was working against it. Wrongdoing would adversely affect everyone involved and stumble others!”—2 Corinthians 6:3.
The Strongest Incentive
16. What are some aftereffects of moral uncleanness?
16 The Bible warns: “As a honeycomb the lips of a strange woman keep dripping, and her palate is smoother than oil. But the aftereffect from her is as bitter as wormwood; it is as sharp as a two-edged sword.” (Proverbs 5:3, 4) The aftereffects of moral uncleanness are painful and can be deadly. They include a troubled conscience, sexually transmitted diseases, and the emotional devastation of the mate of the unfaithful individual. Surely this is reason not to start down a path that can lead to marital infidelity.
17. What is the strongest reason to maintain marital fidelity?
17 The fundamental reason why marital unfaithfulness is wrong is that Jehovah, the Originator of marriage and the Bestower of sexual capacity, condemns it. Through the prophet Malachi, He says: “I will come near to you people for the judgment, and I will become a speedy witness against . . . the adulterers.” (Malachi 3:5) Regarding what Jehovah sees, Proverbs 5:21 states: “The ways of man are in front of the eyes of Jehovah, and he is contemplating all his tracks.” Yes, “all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13) The strongest incentive for maintaining marital fidelity, then, is the realization that no matter how secret an infidelity might be and how minor its physical or social consequences might seem, any act of sexual uncleanness damages our relationship with Jehovah.
18, 19. What do we learn from Joseph’s experience with Potiphar’s wife?
18 The example of Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob, shows that the desire to remain at peace with God is a powerful incentive. Having found favor in the eyes of Potiphar, a court official of Pharaoh, Joseph came to have a privileged position in Potiphar’s household. Joseph was also “beautiful in form and beautiful in appearance,” a fact that did not escape the notice of Potiphar’s wife. Every day, she tried to seduce Joseph, but her efforts bore no fruit. What caused Joseph to resist all her advances? The Bible tells us: “He would refuse and would say to his master’s wife: ‘Here my master . . . has not withheld from me anything at all except you, because you are his wife. So how could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?’”—Genesis 39:1-12.
19 Unmarried Joseph maintained moral chastity by refusing to get involved with another man’s wife. “Drink water out of your own cistern,” says Proverbs 5:15 to married men, “and tricklings out of the midst of your own well.” Guard against even unwittingly forming romantic attachments outside of marriage. Put forth the effort to strengthen the bond of love in your own marriage, and work hard to resolve whatever marital difficulties you may encounter. By all means, “rejoice with the wife of your youth.”—Proverbs 5:18.
What Did You Learn?
• How may a Christian unwittingly become ensnared in a romantic relationship?
• What precautions can help one to keep from forming a romantic attachment outside the marriage?
• When experiencing problems, what should a married couple do?
• What is the strongest incentive for maintaining marital fidelity?
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Sadly, the workplace can become fertile soil for an improper office romance
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‘By knowledge will the interior rooms be filled with pleasant things’