The answer to illicit pleasure is legitimate pleasure, that which rightfully and delightfully belongs to the one who is married. I find this embarrassing to read publicly because it is so uninhibited in expressing the passion of legitimate, marital, sexual pleasure. Passion, even sexual passion, is not only not bad; it is greatly to be desired within the appropriate boundaries.
This instruction is calling you to devote yourself to your spouse, family, whatever is good. Do some of you think, if only you knew my wife (or husband)? You would like to rejoice in your spouse if only he or she were desirable or would cooperate. First note the reality that the proverb recognizes here. Even the husbands and wives of desirable and cooperative spouses will yield to sexual temptations. Many a newly married person has been startled to learn that the same temptations that plagued him or her as a single remain in the marriage. It is true that the temptations grow stronger if the marriage is not pleasurable, but the answer is not in wishing that your spouse would get with the program. Rather it is in you being attentive to loving your wife or husband. Turn your attention to blessing your marriage.
If you are single, take the same principle and focus on taking delight in good, legitimate pleasures. Contrary to the foolish propaganda of the world, sex is not the only pleasure and passion of life; it does not even rank first. What does? I can think of a few things. Better than having sex is making a real difference in someone elses life for the good. Do you want to feel good about yourself and have happy memories that build up your self-worth? Then do good deeds. The world will say that such good deeds are substitutes for missing out on sexual passion. We say the world turns to sex as a poor substitute for missing out on a meaningful life. C.S. Lewis would say that turning to sex is a cheap alternative to having the passion for God which is placed in us as his creatures. The point is that we are created to desire after something. We do need to have passion for something, and the foolish world says it is sex. Say what anyone will about love, the world means sexual love at best or the mere animal act. But we know that we were created to have a passion for God.
But even here I want to be careful. God has made us physical beings and created us to live in a physical world. Our goal should not be to become spiritual beings who take no interest in physical pleasures; rather we delight in God through delighting in the legitimate physical pleasures he has given. Thus, the godly spouse will delight in physical intimacy with his or her spouse. The godly married person and the single will delight in the beauties of the created world, in doing good, in the joy of meaningful relationships. The answer to sexual sin is not mere restraint but pouring ones desires and passions into whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (cf. Philippians 4:8).
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