Imagine you are a teenager in a foreign country and your family doesn’t know anything about your whereabouts. You are living and working in the home of your boss who has given you control over everything in his company.
You’re brilliant, smart and extremely successful in everything you do. And if that wasn’t enough, you’re good looking – really, really good looking – with a ripped body that would make any athlete or body-builder jealous.
The boss’ wife has taken notice. She wonders what it would be like to get a hunk like you in bed. She approaches you and asks you to have sex with her. You refuse, but this woman won’t take no for an answer.
Day after day, she keeps asking you to come to bed with her. On one of those days, the boss is out-of-town on business and she gives the other workers in the house the day off. She and you are in the house alone when she aggressively comes on to you and grabs you by your shirt.
What do you do? Do you give in to her advances? After all, you are in a foreign country, the boss is away, the other workers in the house are not there and the two of you are alone. Besides, who will know?
This isn’t just a scenario I made up. It happened to a Jewish teenager named Joseph. You can read the story in the Bible in Genesis 39, but first read Genesis 37 to find out about Joseph’s background.
He was his father Jacob’s favorite son among 12 boys. Jacob gave him a special multicolored coat to let everyone know how proud he was of Joseph. His brothers resented him and were jealous. They are the reason he was in a foreign country without any of his family knowing. First they threw him into a pit and then sold him to slave traders when he was only 17-years-old.
He wound up in Egypt in the home of a man named Potiphar and it was Potiphar’s wife who attempted to seduce Joseph.
Joseph steadfastly refused. One day when they were alone, she grabbed him, but he broke away from her clutches, leaving his cloak in her hands (Genesis 39:10-12). When her husband came home, she lied that Joseph had tried to rape her and Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison.
Now, let’s examine this sexual temptation a little closer, especially since we’re living in the hook-up age and it’s generally expected that teenagers will have sex. Here are six lessons we can draw from Joseph’s story. Parents, as well as their teens, should read and discuss these. Parents also should combat the belief that their teens are going to be sexually adventurous. Most teens will act within the boundaries their parents set.
Lesson 1: We will be tempted sexually (and in a lot of other ways). Temptation comes even as we’re going about our daily lives just as Joseph was doing. Sometimes, it’s unexpected and comes from an unexpected source. Therefore, we have to be ready for it at all times. We need to have a plan about how we’re going to deal with it when it comes. As much as possible, what we’re going to do in those moments should be determined beforehand.
Lesson 2: Sexual temptation is a trap. Sex is beautiful and a gift from God. Yes, we have sexual desires. Yes, it is pleasurable. Yes, it is gratifying. But if it is not confined to marriage between a man and a woman, then it is a great evil in the sight of God and should be avoided. Plus, abstinence, waiting until marriage and having sex God’s way is the best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Lesson 3: Be honest about what sexual temptation is. Joseph called it wickedness (or evil) and a sin. He recognized that it was an affront to God. We should always have God’s honor and glory uppermost in our minds – as Joseph did.
Lesson 4: Run. Running from sexual temptation is often the best thing to do. Sexual desires might be the strongest desires we have. We’re only fooling ourselves when we say that we can handle it when we’re alone with someone of the opposite sex and those hormones start raging. Will power probably won’t stop it and neither will a cold shower. The Bible is full of examples of those who didn’t resist or run, such as Samson, David and Solomon, and suffered tragic consequences because they didn’t. Fleeing — getting out of there — is the best option to not be overcome by it.
Lesson 5: Sexual temptation is relentless. Just because you refuse it once doesn’t mean it won’t come around again and again. When Satan tempted Jesus, scripture says Satan went away, hoping to find a more opportune time to tempt him again (Luke 4:13). Often, temptation works that way, coming at us in a weak moment, so we always have to stay on guard.
Lesson 6: Doing what’s right doesn’t always mean things are going to work out right. Joseph resisted Potiphar’s wife’s advances and ran from her when she grabbed him. But she lied about what had happened and he wound up in prison. We should always do what is right because it is right, no matter what the consequences might be.
Here are some Bible verses to help you react to sexual temptation the way Joseph did:
- Psalm 119:9-11
- Proverbs 2
- Proverbs 4
- Proverbs 5
- Proverbs 9:17-18
- Matthew 26:41
- 1 Corinthians 6:18
- 2 Timothy 2:22
- 1 Peter 2:11-12
- 1 Peter 2:19-20
- 1 Peter 3:13-14
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
And let’s not forget, Joseph was a young man making very mature decisions. With Christ guiding their hearts, our children can refuse and escape sexual temptation.
Next week: Esther: The Beauty Queen of Obedience