Another kind of refraining

Day 5 – Another kind of refraining
In looking through the Biblical uses of the word embrace, I came across this passage in Proverbs and felt I would be remiss if we did not address this topic in the space we have here.


It sounds like such a harsh word in our culture. Images of The Scarlet Letter come to mind. The word sounds labeling, to some people, maybe archaic, and to others shaming. Here is reality:

God cares about sex. He thinks it’s a good idea. He created it. He also cares about sex in the boundary of marriage. This is a hard line. If you were with us yesterday about boundaries and margins, this is a tight boundary. When I speak about this, please know that it is as a sinner saved by grace alone. I have been, as Paul says, “the worst of sinners.” I sit in no place of judgement. But not speaking is not an option, if it means someone will not hear the beautiful message of Grace that God has for us.

That said. Sex outside of marriage is dark stuff. It leaves devastation and destruction, fear and regret. Make no mistake, God redeems even this. Of course He does! But the world will tell you that you don’t need His redemption. That you do not need Him to stand in that place of forgiveness for this particular thing, after all it’s no big deal.

Hear me now: It is a big deal.

There are always aftershocks. Satan tells us that sex outside of marriage is no big deal and it’s only between two people. The reality is that these waves of emotional shocks, physical shocks, and raw consequences effect the whole people of God. And God cares…for one sparrow and His entire flock.

Read Proverbs 5:15-23 below and let’s see what wisdom we can glean from the Word, as well as some Grace…

Drink water from your own cistern,
    flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
    streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
    and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
    a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
    be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
    and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
    and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
    and because of his great folly he is led astray.”

This passage is gorgeous. How like God to use such beautiful language to tell us about something the world would degrade so often! He truly is magnificent. Let’s work through the passage just a bit.

  1. 15 – “Drink from your own cistern.”
Enough said. Not your own cistern at any given time. Not your cistern that feels right, but the one cistern that is your spouse in the one flesh relationship. And listen for the Gospel…drink from it, sister! Drink deep and share one another in the marriage bed.
  1. 17 – “Let them be for yourself alone and not for strangers with you.”
Marriage is between two people. Not 3, not 7, but 2 (Mark 10:8). This brings two specific issues to mind.

Privacy – be sensitive to your partner, no crass joking about your sex life or even over- sharing without permission. I’m talking about girl talk around the table too, not just men acting like boys. Be aware of how your partner feels about conversations about sex and use sensitivity.

Pornography – I believe strongly that God has a hard and fast boundary on this one too, and it is demonstrated in this passage. Porn invites other people into your sex life, with or without your partners permission. It is NOT ok. It is degrading to you, degrading to your spouse, degrading to the women and men on the screen. It does not build up in any way. Porn is not ok together as a couple, nor is it ok individually – married or single. No matter what age you are, porn messes with your brain, your future and your current sex life, and your relationship with God. If you have questions about this or need help, please let me know. As a therapist, I can explain more, and there are resources of grace to restore.

  1. 19b-20 …”be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?”
God’s way of addressing things always strikes me as utterly perfect, usually gentle, always very clear. “Why should you be…”

Yes, why?

God asks us why we would want to give up the abundant life for scraps on the floor. I have been there. It isn’t worth it. Ever. His plans, although a challenge at times, of self-discipline and unclarity, are always better. Always. Why would we embrace the forbidden, when we have the whole garden for ourselves. We trade our relationship of trust with Him and with our spouse or the spouse He has planned for us, for something that falls through our fingers like bathwater from a faucet.

Girls, he redeems even that. He redeems all of it. Hold on tight to that.

The Hebrew here offers us special insight, related to our Ecclesiastes study. The verb translated “be intoxicated” in verses 19 and 20 can also be translated “to be led astray” or to be led far off.* It is so easy to be cast away by another’s influence.
But I have Good News. The prodigal was where? Luke 15:20 tells us he was “a long way off.” Cast far away of his own accord and the shame built around him by the so-called friends he was entrenched with. Far off means nothing to God, though. He is the One who removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Far off is speaking His language. He reaches His hand in the pit of our present or the pit of our past and offers Life.


There is certainly a time to refrain from embracing. I hope this devotion speaks Life to you and not death and shame. He treasures you. You are precious. Beautiful to Him. Shout praises for His ever faithful redemption in the cross and empty tomb of Christ our Lord. And rest in His bosom. Rest in His Word. Rest in His shelter. When shame and regret press in. When we are called to refrain from embracing in this world, hold fast to Him, embrace the One who loves you more than anything.   

Discussion questions:
What is something your spouse or someone you love does for you that makes you feel valued and respected?
Have you ever seen the devastating effects of adultery? How were others around the situation effected? (You do not need to be specific.)

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