Pro 6:23-35 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, (24) to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. (25) Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; (26) for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. (27) Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? (28) Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? (29) So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. (30) People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, (31) but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. (32) He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. (33) He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. (34) For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. (35) He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.
There’s a myth that persists in the minds of young men. I call it the “perfect princess” myth. I talked about it in a post on the forms of lust a few years back. The myth is that men are bad bad bad and women are good good good. On any evangelical reading of the world and of Scripture the truth of the matter is that hearts of men and women are sick and evil (see Romans 3:23).
The myth often holds tightest in the minds of young men who obsess over women who have no interest in them but in many cases will use them as a sounding board for their frustrations with other men (husbands, boyfriends, etc), free food, or even financial support.
The author of Proverbs was aware of these dangers. As an aside, before it was an internet meme, I knew a guy who found himself in the “food zone.” The food-zone is the relationship space you enter when a spends non-romantic time with you for free food. The author of Proverbs would say that preying on a young man’s affections for free food is evil. But he would also say that the young man is just as evil for refusing the see the truth in the hopes of having his far-fetched desires for affection fulfilled. The “I can fix her/him” is a powerful narrative in the minds of the lonely.
The book of Proverbs warns young men here that such feelings of wanting to rescue such women are actually sinful because behind them is ultimately a desire (on one or both ends) to commit adultery. The proof is that when such a relationship reaches a sexual peak, nobody will sympathize when consequences occur. The attitude, the sneaking, the wishing, etc are all wrong. What’s funny is that I’ve heard this passage called “sexist” because it calls a woman evil. But at the heart of it it’s a warning to young men that evil women exist and that the innate desire to be with such women is itself evil.
Note: Observe that the evil of this character in Proverbs 6 is a particular type of evil. When the Bible says that all are sinful it doesn’t mean that all commit literal adultery. So the “evil woman” here is a particular kind of person for young men to avoid. It’s not a call (as I’m sure some monks have interpreted it) to avoid all women all the time.