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Question:
I have been dating a guy for about 6 months. He and I have been struggling with drawing dating boundaries in the physical aspect of our relationship. What is your advice?

Answer:

There are no verses in the Bible that say what you can do physically before marriage. Now, before I get bombarded with emails, let me say that THERE ARE plenty of verses that give principles and standards by which two people can determine what is appropriate before marriage.

It would be very easy to answer “do this, don’t do that” but 1) doesn’t teach people to think for themselves and learn to be discerning, 2) all standards don’t apply to all people (age, spiritual maturity, place in life, depth of Christian life, surety of marriage all play a role in determining what is pleasing to God) and 3) a checklist of do’s and don’ts can’t cover every situation and variable.

It is far too easy and spiritually ineffective to simply state: “don’t you hold hands, hug, kiss or show any affection until the preacher says ‘I do!'”. That kind of approach, while on the surface may seem “safe”, is more prone to be legalism than practicing Godly purity (which is physical, mental and spiritual,not just physical).

So I want to give you some principles that you can consider and then allow you as a couple to decide. What is important is that YOU HAVE BOUNDARIES AND PLAN. If you attempt “purity on the fly” you are destined to let the boundaries slide, and failure is a great possibility.

  • Learn to ask the right question if you’re looking for a Godly answer. When it comes to lifestyle and behavior issues the right question is “what can I do to most glorify God?”, not “what can I get away with and still be a Christian?”
  • Purity is something you determine to have. Plan for it, set limits, seek God’s direction.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; (NKJV)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (NKJV)

Let me close with an excerpt from a lesson I did on moral purity. It has to do with not “falling off the cliff”. As it relates to this advice, the “cliff” would be fornication:

I tell my kids – if you don’t want to end up having sex before marriage (fornication; falling off the cliff) then stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible; which means being careful about things that lead to the cliff’s edge: holding hands, body contact, lustful eyes, immodest clothing, making out, petting and overtly sexual behavior. There is a trend today with kids that EVERYTHING except actual intercourse is not actually having sex and somehow that makes it okay (perhaps we can thank a certain ex-president for helping to clarify that for our kids).

I go on to explain to them, “If you aren’t CLOSE to the cliff, a stumble or a gust of wind won’t blow you over the edge.” If you stay a safe distance away from the cliff, then you have margin, you have room for error, you have a buffer zone for mistakes or failures. I tell them over and over that you cannot be shocked and surprised to lose your virginity when you have spent several weeks progressing the amount and intensity of physical contact to the point of finding yourself alone, in the dark, unsupervised, clothes off, doing “everything” physically possible except intercourse. At that point you are teetering on the edge of the cliff, balancing on one leg, with a hurricane force wind blowing behind you. Don’t act shocked when you get blown off.

Here is a link to that lesson: http://www.seriousfaith.com/dvo/devotion.asp?teachingnumber=452

Readers, what advice do you have for dating couples who want to remain pure? Put your comments on the message boards. Go here

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