18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman
20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth
and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’
The modern tendency is to explain everything, which reduces things to the level of our own understanding. But the mark of true wisdom is humility, which shows itself here in the author’s amazement. The modern says “that’s just a bird,” or “it’s only a ship,” and goes on with his day in a mood of indifference. Somewhere along the way he has lost his sense of wonder, and is bored with the things that ought to inspire. But it is he who is boring, the beauty is there but he cannot grasp it.
Perhaps the most tragic effect of this attitude is the degradation of sex. The intimacy of “one flesh;” the arousal of love and inspiration of song; the beautiful dance by which life is conceived; has become “just an appetite.” But this so-called liberation, which discards guilt along with meaning, turns out to be nothing new. Whatever we call it, it is the way of adultery, and the destination is the same now as it always was. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” says the adulteress. Though she has long forgotten the significance of sex, and in spite of her numbness, she justifies herself nonetheless.