Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Mon, 07/12/2009 – 12:56
Bible Book: Genesis
Chapter: 39
Verse: 1 – 23
Text: Genesis 39

When one looks at the story of Genesis 39 in the context of the AIDS pandemic, one is struck by Joseph’s choice to say “no” to Potiphar’s wife. Abstinence is one of the many important aspects to be addressed in a discussion about HIV and AIDS.

A more in-depth reading of Genesis 39, however, shows that this story concerns much more than sexual temptations and the triumphing over them. The chapter forms part of the greater storyline of Genesis 39-41. In chapter 39 the narrator gives the listener (reader) two clear indicators with which he defines this section:
– Verses 1 and 2 tell us that Joseph was sold as a slave but that “the LORD was with Joseph”.
– Verses 20 and 21 say that he was put in prison “but the LORD was with Joseph”.

By making these statements, the narrator is showing us that the story of Joseph being sold as a slave, his faithfulness to his owner, his resistance to the unwarranted command of his owner’s wife and his imprisonment, is more than a “heroic tale”. Joseph is in the first instance blessed, favoured. Favoured in spite of suffering and in the midst of temptations. Somebody who has landed in the maelstroms of life, but who never “lost” the one thing – God’s presence. Or, better still, God never let Joseph fall from his hand.

So, blessed and accompanied by God, Joseph’s character is steadily growing in Egypt. This is clear from his faithfulness and loyalty to Potiphar and even the warden in prison. So the conflict with Potiphar’s wife actually serves to highlight Joseph’s character as one who is blessed and favoured.

Therefore, when we want to talk about sexual abstinence, in a manner that is faithful to the narrator of Genesis 39, we have to do it within the context of God’s favoured (gracious) presence. To us, the blessed presence of God means that the Holy Spirit will comfort and teach and lead us. This is where we find the source of responsible sexual choices.

Practically speaking, this means that young and old (for sexual choices are not only a young person’s challenge), man and woman (we have to be very careful not to implicate the role of seducer to only one of the sexes), will discover that their sexual choices take place before God.

Even when we are not consciously aware of God’s presence (perhaps Joseph himself wasn’t always so aware of the fact that God was with him), the choices we make should be inspired by what we learn from his Word:
– that both the other person and I are precious to God;
– that God created us to take responsibility (be stewards);
– that physical and sexual health is a precious gift from God that we must treasure;
– that there can be no joy and fulfilment when we are involved in dishonesty, injustice, humiliation or hurt;
– that true joy and fulfilment will follow whenever there are mutual respect, regard, loyalty, faithfulness, caring, cherishing etc. etc.
– that sexual intercourse implies mutual love (=agreement!)
(the list is endless…)

POSTSCRIPT: I think that one of the greatest challenges that the minister who wants to talk about abstinence has, is to do it in such a manner that those who have been doing the opposite will also become aware of God’s grace, and will also feel challenged to take up the responsibility for their sexual behaviour once more. (According to statistics there will be some of those present.)

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English

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