The Folly of the Forbidden

(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)

The Folly of the Forbidden

By Sarah Komisky

“And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…”

– Genesis 39:7 (NKJV)

He’s your co-worker, one of the dad’s at your child’s daycare, youth pastor, professor, guy you sit next to in class, someone in your inner circle, the one that you see frequently at the gym, drummer in the band plastered on your wall, or the person that brews your coffee everyday. He’s attractive…He’s wonderful…he’s off limits.

Instead of turning your eyes elsewhere when you hear those curse words fly out of his mouth, or catch a glimpse of a wedding band, or get introduced to the girlfriend at his side, you begin your quiet pursuit. You convince yourself your fantasies are harmless. You take extra time primping before seeing him and pick out just the right outfit to get his attention. You thrive on conversations here and there. And while he might be way older, taken, or completely contrary to what you believe, you settle for the cheap thrills from the bits and pieces of him. You silence the warnings inside and succumb to secrecy. The taste of forbidden fruit has held you captive and now it’s inescapable.


Potiphar’s Wife wasn’t that different from many girls who catch a glimpse of beauty, but go too far when they try to pursue someone who is clearly forbidden. Her affair began when twenty-something Joseph entered her world after being employed by her husband. Joseph was considered “handsome in form and appearance” (Genesis 39:6, NASB), and the son of the exceptional beauty Rachel; he was stunning to behold. Yet the line was crossed when this woman’s thoughts were cultivated into an unhealthy appetite and turned into action (Genesis 39:7, NASB).

The two were completely different. Joseph, was a Hebrew who worshiped Yahweh (the one true God), while Potiphar’s Wife was a married Egyptian women who didn’t know Joseph’s God. For Potiphar’s Wife, Joseph was clearly forbidden on the basis of adultery, which was punishable by death in ancient times. Yet for Joseph, the relationship was also forbidden, not only because of man’s laws, but because it committed an even greater offense – disobeying God.

Although the story is centuries old, the temptation is still the same.

Over and over women have fallen into different forms of forbidden romantic relationships. These include:

  • Those who are inappropriate for your age (John 16:13, NKJV)
  • Men who are married or are in a relationship (Proverbs 5:22, 6:32; Matthew 5:28; NKJV; Hebrews 13:4, NIV)
  • Someone who doesn’t believe what you do (2 Corinthians 6:14, NLV)
  • Same-sex romantic relationships (Leviticus 18:22, TLB)

Now why are these forbidden in this first place? Is God a “kill joy” or someone that is constantly telling us do’s and don’ts. I say He is neither one of those. Think about the original humans known as Adam and Eve. God said they could eat and roam His beautiful garden freely, but He warned them to not eat from the one tree that had the potential to seriously harm (destroy) them (Genesis 2:16). God wasn’t saying, “Don’t eat this because I just don’t want you to have it…MUH HAHA!” No! God said (I paraphrase), “I love you enough to give you good options, to warn you of what’s not good for you because I don’t want to see you get hurt, and to let you make a choice.” God gives us better options that will bless us, and pale in comparison to what we think is good.

Yet, like Eve, we too take the bite of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6). Why? Like a child who is told “no” for good reasons by their parents, the child insists on doing the wrong thing, like eating five candy bars or sticking a finger in the electrical socket. In our twisted fallen nature, we want what isn’t good for us, we are curious, it excites us, and we enjoy a challenge. Yet, we cannot touch fire without getting burnt. Forbidden fruit, while shortly pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25, KJV), like sugar, will always leave us dissatisfied in a pile of disastrous possibilities like pregnancy, a broken heart, loss of virginity, tainted reputation, guilt, humiliation, addiction, STD’s, and the list goes on.

Before we are quick to judge Mrs. Potiphar, we need to check ourselves (Psalm 139:23-24). Have we ever fantasized or lusted over someone forbidden? Have we ever “conveniently” run into this person to chat? Have we dressed to get a head turn? Have we schemed to get their attention? Have we hid our actions?

This forbidden person is not our property, but someone else’s. We need to realize that affairs begin in the mind and adultery is committed there. What we think is “harmless” or “hidden” is not only harmful for us, the person we pursue, but also others who are innocent.

So when someone catches our attention, we must be careful to guard our eyes, as both Potiphar’s Wife and Eve (Genesis 3:6) were lured by them. Like Joseph, we can honor God when we are faced with temptation and turn in a new direction with God’s help (Genesis 39:8, 10, 12). We can acknowledge the beauty God created and bounce our thoughts in a new direction by thanking God for who we have or the one we will have someday. In the safety of His boundaries, we can taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).