We have a significant issue in society today related to the stability of the institution of marriage - what was designed to be the pledge of one life to another for the entirety of their lifetimes. We even have issues with figuring out how to define marriage anymore - with everyone trying to "redefine" it to fit their desire. Probably not too many of us think we will deal with adultery when we enter into marriage, any more than we think we will have to deal with the issues of prostitution or pornography. Yet, today's culture puts the sanctity of this union we refer to as "marriage" to the test with all kinds of issues, doesn't it? You only need to view one night's television to reveal the subtle undertones of the issues we are facing - some not as subtle as others! What we don't realize is that damage we do when we give our hearts (and bodies) to someone outside of the sanctity of marriage - whether it is through prostitution, pornography, adultery, or fornication. It damages the beauty of what God designed within the boundaries of marriage.
Dear child, I want your full attention; please do what I show you. A whore is a bottomless pit; a loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast. She’ll take you for all you’ve got; she’s worse than a pack of thieves. (Proverbs 23:26-28 MSG)
Our seventeenth principle begins with a "wake up" call. Solomon lays it all out there in these principles for living a life with a solid foundation, but midway through, he calls us to attention - wanting our "full attention". There is a father's heart here - wanting us to realize the gravity of what he is about to share with us. More importantly, he is asking us not only to "pay attention" which involves the senses of listening and seeing, but to then go away "doing" what it is he has said and shown. It is the coupled method of learning - see one, do one, then be able to be an example to teach one. But this lesson must be pretty important because he calls us to attention - gets our focus again, as though we may have drifted a little in our sincerity of laying all the foundation stones in place one-by-one. Why is there this sense of urgency on his part for us to hear and obey? I believe it is because he has recognized the pull of anything which takes us away from "dead center" and grabs the strings of our hearts, entangling them in its grasp.
At first, we may only think this passage deals with prostitutes (whores), but read it in some additional translations and you will hear the undertones of a concerned father warning against the misdirection of heart which carries a good many into adulterous paths. In the most literal sense, this is the violation of the "marriage bed" - the giving of oneself sexually to anyone other than your spouse. The issue at hand is that of giving one's heart to anyone to whom it does not belong. To begin with, our heart belongs to God FIRST. We can actually "whore" our hearts to many a thing or person, can't we? Any time we put another (even ourselves) in the position God deserves, we are "whoring" ourselves to another. We are violating the relationship God wants to have with his people. I like the NIV translation, because it refers to this way as a "deep pit" - something which entraps and makes it difficult to get out of. Anything or anyone that takes the attention of our heart, grabbing hold of its affections and attentions is a dangerous thing and we should be alert to avoid it at all cost. This is the underlying meaning of this passage.
Yes, there is a clear call to keep our hearts pure in the realm of our marriage - avoiding giving our hearts to anyone other than our spouse. Yet, the deeper meaning is to keep our hearts pure and in love with the one who gives us the very breath we rely upon for life itself - God. In turn, we avoid the many pitfalls which await us if we don't. The issue at hand is that of focus - for what we focus on the most gets the priority of our attention. To have any other focus than him will introduce many an unwanted issue into our lives, just as much as having any other focus in our married lives other than our spouse would create a similar type of havoc. The call is to pay attention - to get our focus right. We don't get lured by the adulterous or whore when our focus is on the one we love the most! Just sayin!