I recently reached out to a friend who just got married last May. She and her husband were a shining example of godly courtship leading up to their marriage. When I found out that their first kiss took place at the altar on their wedding day, I had to find out how they did it.
We live in a society that pushes a “do whatever feels good” philosophy much like the Greeks and Romans of the early Church times. Paul advised against sexual immorality in several of his letters that comprise the New Testament.
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.” Ephesians 5:3 NLT
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Colossians 3:5 NLT
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
When singles and young people ask, “How far is too far?” I think they’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about dancing as close to “the line” as you can without actually crossing it. It’s about living a life above reproach. It’s about drawing your own line so far back that there’s no way you’d cross any questionable lines or find yourself ridden with guilt.
I used to know a girl that was adamant about maintaining her virginity, but would do absolutely anything and everything sexual with any man except actual, technical sex. What kind of witness is that? Is that purity? Is that maintaining healthy boundaries? I don’t think so. And I’m sure most would agree.
We can all agree that according to Scripture, sex outside of marriage is not God’s best plan. And if we want God’s best for our future marriages, sexual purity is important. But there’s a bit of grey area where God expects us to use good judgment and discernment. It’s up to each of us to decide how far is too far. Therefore, we have to create healthy boundaries long before we find ourselves in a compromising situation.
When I spoke with my married friend, I was pleased to find out that she and her now husband did exactly what I have put into practice myself (yay me!). She said early in the relationship, they had a conversation and drew clear boundaries for physical contact.
For each person and couple, those boundaries may be drawn differently. For me, personally, I know that based on my past struggles and sexual temptations, I can’t even kiss a man on the lips before our wedding day. I’m a single mom, so obviously I’m not a naive, doe-eyed, innocent virgin. In light of that, it may sound extreme to some for me to draw such a stern line. But let’s be honest, a kiss can be a slippery slope that leads to more and more until we’re in a place we can’t recover from. The kiss is the “gateway drug” to physical intimacy, if you will. I’d rather play it super extra safe and not have any grey area. This is something I’ve prayed about and believe God has asked me to do. Again, your line in the sand may be different.
The second tip that my friend gave me was something else I’ve already put into practice (2 points for the win!). She said they set clear boundaries around spending too much time alone together especially in the late evening hours.
I have a 10 pm curfew. I know not all sex happens after dark, but as a dear friend pointed out, temptation is harder to resist when we’re tired. As attraction and the relationship grows, that time frame and alone time in general may have to be adjusted in order to safeguard ourselves. Clear and regular communication as adjustments are made is also essential so both parties are in agreement.
Again, this may look different for each person and couple, but the important thing is to focus on how to protect yourself and one another from sin, not how much can you get away with. In a healthy relationship, both parties should be in total agreement on this topic and be able to hold each other accountable. When one has a moment of weakness, the other can be strong and uphold the boundaries. If the lines get blurred, a conversation is definitely in order to re-calibrate.
If you are both chasing after God first and foremost, then your hearts will be in the right place. My desire is that my life and my relationship would point people to Jesus. My heart is to have a marriage one day that is a reflection of Christ’s love and is completely counter-cultural. That begins long before the wedding day! It is harder to do things God’s way, but it’s always worth it!
My friend reported that because of their decision to abstain, they are enjoying a multitude of God’s blessings in their marriage that made it all worth every sacrifice. That’s what I want someday. I want to be able to say we did things God’s way and because of that, He can bless us abundantly as we chase after His high calling in our life and marriage.
By the way, drawing these boundaries in a seemingly extreme way for protection applies to ALL sin, not just sex. If your struggle is with drugs or alcohol, don’t go near a bar or the people you used to gain access through. If your sin is lust or cheating, avoid friendships with singles of the opposite gender especially when in a relationship. Avoid any situation that could potentially become compromising. RUN AWAY!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1