I know this group of readers well enough to know that you value purity. You get that God asks you to save sex until your wedding day, but if you’re in a dating relationship, you realize sex isn’t the only line to consider.
Some of you have decided not to kiss until marriage. Others think kissing is okay. Some of you have said you will only hold hands. Others choose a different line. Some of you have realized you’ve gone too far physically only after the damage has been done. That’s why I think it’s wise to consider God’s boundaries, and your own, long before you ever have the opportunity to act.
Consider these principles to be checkpoints on the path to purity. If the level of your physical activity in your dating relationship allows you to stick to these principles, you have strong boundaries in place. If the level of physical contact in your relationship violates even one of these principles, you’ve probably gone too far.
Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of “whatever” targets to focus on. We are encouraged to think about:
- Whatever is true.
- Whatever is honorable.
- Whatever is just.
- Whatever is pure.
- Whatever is lovely.
- Whatever is commendable.
- Whatever is excellent
- Whatever is praiseworthy.
Instead of asking, “How far can we go without getting into trouble?” consider, “Will this help us to think about things that are pure and honorable?”
Can you hold hands and think thoughts that are pure and honorable? Can you hug and think pure thoughts? What about kissing? Making out? Sexual touching? Clearly there is a point when your actions will cause your thoughts to shift away from what is pure, honorable, and true and toward a desire for increased sexual contact. Don’t decide where your line is after your thoughts have switched to the impure. Decide ahead of time how far you can go and still keep your thoughts fixed on the things of God. This is a great standard to discuss with your parents, youth pastor, or trusted adult.
Not Even a Hint
Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (NIV).
God’s Word doesn’t suggest that we get as close to the line of sexual sin as possible. It asks us to do the opposite. As God’s people, we should avoid flirting (or hinting) with sexual sin. Why? Because the fire of sexual passion burns so hot, it’s impossible to dabble with. Inside of a marriage, this is a beautiful gift. But outside of marriage, if you step to close to the fire, you will get burned.
Are you hinting at sexual sin when you spend hours passionately kissing on your boyfriend’s couch? Are you hinting at sexual sin when you hold each other for prolonged periods, leaving each other wanting more and more physical contact? Don’t flirt with the fire.
If purity is your goal, make a commitment to never cause another person to want to cross the line. At all times consider whether your actions might cause your boyfriend to want to become more physically involved. That includes what you see on dates (movies, videos, TV shows), what you do when you’re together, how you relate to each other, how you touch, what you wear. . . everything you do!
While each of us is responsible for our own choices whether to sin and to pursue purity, we are wise to nudge others toward righteousness instead of tempting them to compromise.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. . . . So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Rom. 14:13, 19).
No Line in the Sand
It might seem easier if God drew a hard line in the sand and said, “Do not go past this point while you’re dating,” but I am not convinced that would keep us in check. If God drew an exact line dividing acceptable physical contact from the unacceptable, we would race right to that line and then push it “just a little bit” further. It is our human nature to sin and to push back against authority. If the Bible gave us a bunch of rules, we would find a way around those rules. In His wisdom, God didn’t give us a checklist in His Word for physical behavior before marriage. He did something better by giving us principles in His Word that we can apply to our relationships.
I can’t tell you exactly how far is too far, but I can encourage you to start asking different questions. Begin with these three:
- Are my thoughts pure when I have physical contact with my boyfriend?
- Does the level of our physical contact hint at sex?
- How much can I save for my future spouse?