I have been (or will be!) doing a lot of premarital counseling and weddings this year, including three weddings in my own family. It is a very exciting time of life – a hopeful time – for young couples as they begin to build a life together. I am always glad to be able to be a part of the ceremony, to give a short message, to help the couple exchange vows, to pronounce them husband and wife.
As I have been reflecting a lot about weddings and marriage, I am struck by the positive vision of marriage given in the Scripture, both in the Old Testament in places like Psalm 45 and in the New Testament, where Paul speaks of our marriages being pictures of Christ and His relationship with the Church. Of course, there is, because of sin, a danger that is very great too – it can all come undone. This is the warning of the father to the son in Proverbs 7. I have been thinking about that warning, how dark and sad and true it is. In this chapter, we are introduced to the forbidden woman (or the adulterous woman) who seeks to lure the unsuspecting young man into a forbidden adulterous encounter. The young man complies and the father comments that the young man has no idea what this is going to lead to – that it leads to death and the grave. It is a disastrous decision.
And then, as you continue to read Proverbs, you will see that the father uses the image of the forbidden woman (Proverbs 7) and the image of the woman Folly (Proverbs 9:13-18) almost interchangeably. Folly is loud and cries out for your attention, just like the the adulterous woman does in her encounter with the unsuspecting young man. To live foolishly leads to death, in the same way that lust and sexual immorality lead to death – Paul says as much when he declares that “the wages of sin is death” – not only do we experience devastating consequences personally and relationally when we sin – these things lead us away from the LORD, the giver of life, and place us under His wrath.
So there is this dark and sinister attempt by our enemies (world, flesh and devil) to lure us in, to call us away from the LORD’s way … and there is this bright vision of the LORD’s way – a way of love, mercy, forgiveness, beauty, truth and goodness. And there is this realization that the LORD’s way is not our natural choice … folly is just too loud, too seductive … and death is what we deserve. But thanks be to God that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … He took the penalty we deserve and so rescues us from the “depths of Sheol” or the “chambers of death” and gives us life, now and forever. And because of this, it is our work, our calling to listen to Folly no more, but rather to listen to Wisdom, to the LORD in His Word, to endeavor to follow Christ in obedience each day, to love the LORD with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. As the Church, the bride of Christ, may we faithfully do these things out of a deep love for Him and His work in us. And may God be glorified in it all.