In comparison with the case study of David and Bathsheba we considered earlier in the week, Joseph’s dealings with the wife of Potiphar offer us a refreshing perspective. His is an example of purity and integrity. He models for us a life void of sexual compromise.
The factors that contributed to purity are certainly many. Still, I would like to highlight his respect for and establishment of boundaries. Those boundaries are visible at many different levels.
He respected the boundaries set in place by God. In verse 9, Joseph made it clear that he would “sin against God” if he were to lie with Potiphar’s wife. God designed sexual intimacy for a husband and wife in marriage. Outside of that context it is sin. Pursuing sexual purity will require that we respect the God-given boundaries…even in the face of strong and repeated temptation.
He respected the boundaries of what was rightfully his. According to the early part of verse 9, this woman was one of the only things in the household that Potiphar had withheld from Joseph. He had no business taking something that did not belong to him. Pursuing sexual purity will require that we do not take (mentally or physical) what does not belong to us.
He established personal boundaries that prevented compromise. Even though she dangled the temptation out there on a daily basis, verse 10 indicated that he did more than say “no” to her advances. He also tried to avoid her as much as possible. And, to top things off, he even ran away from her in verse 12. Pursuing sexual purity will require that we keep a safe distance from temptation we know to be strong and relentless. Rather than lingering to weigh the options or to see how explicit the temptation might become, there will be times when we simply need to turn off the entertainment or leave the room.
Do you have your own boundaries that protect you from sexual compromise? Are your boundaries pretty clear? Do you use them consistently?