Perhaps I've been avoiding this post too. Proverbs 5 includes some "sensitive" topics. As a parent or early elementary teacher, the question crosses your mind, "It's Scripture, should we avoid that?" There are for sure ones who would answer that question in a variety of different ways (probably very emphatic about their position too). My preference at this point is to boil it down to the principle and acknowledge that we'll get there soon enough.
Here are a few key points re: discernment:
- "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable...." -- unquestionably.
- Yet -- just as unquestionably -- God expects us to use discernment. Not only for our own lives but also on behalf of our children as they learn discernment.
- There are respectful ways to deal with sensitive topics.
- There are appropriate places and times for such discussions.
- There are things we do not need to have the answer to just because the question came into our mind, or that we do not need to know "now" just because the question "just now" came into our mind. (Thanks for introducing this South African-ism to our family. See December WFM post to understand.)
- Scripture contains a wide array of genres and material. There are some passages that read much like news reports that you would most certainly mute or change the channel on if it were to be being broadcast across tonight's television screen (think Judges where every one did what was right in their own eyes).
- Children mature at different rates. You know your child, or at least are striving to, and God will give you a sense of what he or she is ready to deal with.
- Historically, some Jewish communities did not permit the guys to read Song of Solomon until their bar mitzvah; some, not until they were thirty or had gotten married. So, in keeping with our historic, Judaic religious heritage, we're in good company if we choose to carefully address these specific passages.
That he says, "that your lips may guard knowledge" even says to me that it was important to this dad how his son talked about these things. We deceive ourselves if we think lewd speech is only typical of today's generation.
But he then plays off the words "lips" and starts discussing what he calls "a forbidden woman." "For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edge sword. Her feet go down to death... listen to me... keep your ways far from her."
It's important for our kids, however young, to know that certain things are "forbidden." The whole story of Scripture started with forbidden fruit, after all. But it's also important for them to get that those things are not forbidden to keep something pleasurable away from them; they're forbidden to protect them from what will be harmful to them.
As I let this passage marinade in my brain, I thought of God's power to redeem such a forbidden woman, and I thought of the honey and the oil and the bitter taste of vinegar (in place of wormwood). And I thought of a marinade my mom taught me for London Broil that illustrates these ingredients being blended together (with garlic and soy sauce) and redeemed for something delicious, similar to this recipe for Flank Steak. I love edible illustrations for biblical truths. Anyway....
So the first two-thirds of the passage deals with the forbidden woman, and the first half of the final third delectably describes the what's worth waiting for before finishing up with the "Why would you want anything else!?" challenge.
You may choose to insert other words, or summarize a verse here and there like this family. But the point is: a godly marriage is a beautiful thing and it's good for Mommy & Daddy to enjoy each other. (Insert children saying "Ew!" and turning away as you kiss, peeking, "Are they done yet!?")
- There are things that God forbids ... for your good. (Keep far away!)
- There are things that God gives for you to fully enjoy, at the right time. (Why would you want anything else!?)
- God is always watching, so choose wisely.
- Enjoy your London Broil & your discussion.
Grace & peace,