It still amazes me when people conclude the Bible doesn't deal with everyday life stuff. I love N.T. Wright's assessment:
It's a big book, full of big stories with big ideas and big mistakes. It's about God and greed and grace; about life, lust, and loneliness. It's about birth, beginnings, and betrayal; about siblings, squabbles, and sex. And that's only Genesis.
Our passage in Genesis is incredibly graphic and tragically relevant. Judah's behaviour with Tamar is reprehensible, and Potiphar's wife's actions toward Joseph remind us more of a recent Hollywood production than a 3000 plus-year-old tryst. Perhaps the more things change, the more they remain the same! How will we manage the sexual temptations that come our way daily?
Potiphar's wife takes an interest in Joseph. Apparently, he was well-built and handsome (something only a few of us men know about!) Day after day, she tries to seduce Joseph. He rejects her every advance. "How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). Joseph easily could have rationalized away a poor choice here: "God doesn't appear to be stepping up for me - why should I step up for him?" We are good at this: "My marriage isn't all I hoped it would be - surely it's okay to add a little extra to my life every once in a while." Some of us are single: "Surely by now God would have provided for me." The longer our singleness goes for some, the higher the temptation is to lower our standards. A survey of young adults asked about their greatest temptation, and 90 percent said "sexual compromise." One guy said when he heard that, he knew what the other 10 percent struggled with: lying!
The account with Mrs. Potiphar takes things to a new level as she grabs Joseph to lure him to her bed. He flees - sans jacket. She makes up a story of rape, and Potiphar has Joseph thrown into prison. He may have lost his coat and his title, but he found his character and took another unlikely step towards God's purposes for his life.
What would have happened if Joseph had given in? What will we lose in life if we give in to the temptations we face?
David encouraged us to beware of the enemy's arrows aimed at "the upright in heart." (Ps. 11:2) Are there any arrows pointing at us today?