“A foolish and bold woman, who knows not modesty, comes to want a morsel. She sits at the doors of her house, on a seat openly in the streets, calling to passers by, and to those that are going right on their ways; saying, Whoever is most senseless of you, let him turn aside to me; and I exhort those that want prudence, saying, Take and enjoy secret bread, and the sweet water of theft. But one knows that mighty men die by her, and that one falls in with a snare of hell. But hasten away, delay not in the place, neither fix your eye upon her: for thus shall you go through strange water; but do abstain from strange water, and drink not of a strange fountain, that you may live long, and years of life may be added to you.” (Prov 9: 13-18, Septuagint-translation)
So forgive the awkward topic. But this passage from Proverbs is part of our Church’s reading for today, the third Wednesday of Lent, and it sheds some helpful light, I think, on the “secret bread” and secret torment of many today, also among Orthodox Christians, – and that is, Internet pornography. Just recently I heard from an Orthodox priest that this issue has become more and more a topic at confessions he hears.
I think the above-quoted passage, while it was written over two millennia ago and wasn’t talking about modern-day Internet-pornography, does expose its ugly “thinking” and spirit. Scripture is telling me here, this is “secret bread” and “strange water.” It is both “bread” and “water,” so it does satisfy a certain hunger, and quench a certain thirst. But it is “strange water,” as well as “sweet water of theft,” which is not healthy for me, or appropriate to my actual needs. It is an imposter, and a surrogate for fulfilling my God-given desires and drives. I am, indeed, given desires, also physical ones, from God, as is any human being, that I may grow and be useful to others and myself. So for a person of faith, desires and drives are to be discerned and channeled according to one’s own, true vocation, and not according to the whims of “a foolish and bold woman,” like Internet porn, who simply “comes to want a morsel” of us. I am not called to waste my will on imposters.
So let me not “delay in the place, neither fix my eye” on “the foolish and bold woman” that is Internet-pornography, that wants to “turn me aside to her” and waste my God-given desires and energies at her “strange fountain.” O Lord, I turn my energies and will over to Your care today, that I may be useful to You, myself, and others, rather than waste my time. Amen!