Of Joseph, Potiphar's Wife, And The Dangers Of Office Romance
To those in the Christendom, the Old Testament story of Joseph is not in any way unfamiliar to them as they had for the umpteenth time read about it in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-47. As recorded in the Bible, a great deal of attention is given to the story of this young man: the great grandson of Abraham, grandson of Isaac, and son of Jacob. Not few Christians know the story of the favored teenage boy who was given a coat of many colors by his father. Jacob’s favoritism caused Joseph’s brothers to throw him into an empty pit and then sold him into slavery. This landed Joseph in the land of Egypt, far from his home in Canaan.
In time, Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, purchased him from the Ishmaelite, and so Joseph came to live in Potiphar’s house. God’s favor was with Joseph and soon Potiphar put him in charge of the entire household; which is invariably his office. The position, within the context of today’s politics, is aptly Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Domestic Affair to the Chief of Army Staff. Now Joseph was young, successful, and very physically attractive, and it was not long before Potiphar’s wife took notice of him and attempted to seduce him.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelite who had taken him there.
The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’” (Genesis 39:1-7).
Relate the foregoing situation to our contemporary world were men are falling all around women, and vice versa. Celebrities, entertainers and TV personalities (secular and Christian alike) are losing their jobs and going to jail for sexual harassment, manipulation, and misuse of women. Pastors, priests and spiritual leaders are being charged with sexual molestation and abuse.
An entire movement and hashtag (#metoo) have been created to collect the thoughts, stories, grievances, laments, and accusations of women and men all over the globe who have been sexually assaulted and mistreated. According to Vault, an organization that has since 1996 been providing in-depth intelligence on what it is really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, and how to position oneself to launch and build a dream career, had in a finding it called “Romantic Research” , and carried out in February 2019, said, “Most people who participated in an office romance (64%) chose to keep their relationship (mostly) a secret, 38% did not tell anyone, and 26% only to a select few. Only 16% of respondents chose to sing their love from the rooftops and tell everyone, including their superiors.
Vault’s Research team, in their findings observed that this probably explains why 75% of people assume that their office romances did not affect anyone else, for the most part, no one knew about them in the first place.
Looking at the foregoing findings by Vault’s Research team, particularly as it was conducted in the USA, and not Nigeria, not few readers of this piece would be quick to dismiss it by concluding that the result may not hold true for office romance in Nigeria. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the “World is a global village”. What happens in the US today is not remarkably different from what is happening in Nigeria presently as long as office romance is concerned.
Against the foregoing backdrop, there is a school of thought in the Christendom that has it that the allure of the temptation which Joseph experienced from Potiphar’s wife can hardly be resisted by any man in today’s world.
The view held from the aforementioned school of thought cannot be pooh-poohed as Nigerians have been witnessing men falling from grace to grass merely because of what they have in-between their legs. All around us, celebrities, entertainers and TV personalities (secular and Christian alike) are losing their jobs and going to jail for sexual harassment, manipulation, and abuse of the relationships they had with women. Never has it being so alarming in Nigeria as to the rampancy of sexual peccadilloes associated with pastors, priests and spiritual leaders charged with sexual molestation and abuse. In fact, the immoral bar was recently raised when a popular bank’s Managing Director was alleged to have procreated two children through another’s man wife, thus leading to the death of the man.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask “Why does Joseph refused, and why is it difficult for men of today to take a cue from him and refuse too when faced in the same or similar situation?” The foregoing is a question that has been begging for answer.
But in the case of Joseph, the bible recorded, “But he (Joseph) refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her” (Genesis 39:7-10).
Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife even after multiple advances, day after day. He refused to even be around her. Joseph’s reasons for not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife are found in Genesis 39:8-9. Potiphar trusted him, giving him charge over everything he owned. Potiphar withheld nothing from Joseph, except his wife. Committing adultery with Potiphar’s wife would have been wicked and a sin against God. Scripture’s Command: Flee! Ultimately, Potiphar’s wife became so aggressive in her advances that Joseph had to run!
“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (Genesis 39:11-12). Scripture actually gives this very advice: “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness…” (2 Timothy 2:22).
When faced with sexual temptation, the Word of God says to Flee! Run! Get out of there! Remove yourself from the situation.
Often though, we do the opposite. We stay. We continue to look at those websites, stare at those images, watch those movies, build that emotional relationship with someone other than our spouse, etc. King David made the same choice. He stayed.
At this juncture it is expedient to ask, “How Did Joseph Resist?” It is germane to answer the question by saying that the lesson to learnt lies within the answers provided in this context.
The answers are that Joseph was convinced that his relationship with God mattered most, and that God’s standards existed for his good. Also, he was convinced that sin’s pleasures are fleeting. And that a greater reward lay ahead of him.
Men, particularly Nigerians at the top, should always have it at the back of their mind that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13), and finally, there is always a way of escape. Put your eyes on Jesus and run toward Him!