Defining Your Dating Style: The Guided Path – Part IV
- Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Physical affection is a privilege of the marriage commitment. Said another way, sex is God's wedding gift, and He doesn't want the present touched until after the wedding! So what does that mean? What about holding hands, hugging, kissing and so on? Two important texts need our attention:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
From these passages, God's counsel about physical affection can be discerned. Sexual sin is prohibited, uniquely offensive to God, damaging, against God's will, a violation of the Holy Spirit's presence, and a sinful use of your body that was bought by the blood of Jesus.
These passages raise another rissue that must be tackled: What does it mean to defraud a person in a relationship? First Thessalonians 4:3-7 is a warning against sexual sin. Paul says that immorality is against God's will (see verse 3), a lack of self-control (see verse 4), characteristic of an undredeemed life (see verse 5), sin against a brother (see verse 6), and a lightning rod for God's personal vengeance (see verse 6).
Verse 6 says that to commit to sexual sin is to "transgress and wrong his brother in this matter." Some translations use the word defraud for the word wrong (KJV, NASB). The word translated defraud (pleonektein), means "to take advantage of," "to claim more," or "to have more than one's due."51 Note that the object of the verb is "his brother."
Some people use this verse to encourage singles not to defraud each other by sexual sin. Sexual sin is certainly taking advantage of another. However, the verse is better understood as referring to a future spouse who would be violated by a couple's sin. Leon Morris explains, "Promiscuity before marriage refers to the robbing of the other of that virginity which ought to be brought to a marriage. The future partner of such a one has been defrauded."52
These verses are also used to prohibit emotional defraud of a person being dated. Care should certainly be given to avoid violating a person in a relationship (see Romans 12:10), but the point of this pasage is to show love and respect to a future spouse. In other words, you should treat a person you are dating as if they are going to be someone else's spouse. How? By being physically pure (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3). It is far better to hurt the feelings of the person you are dating because of a lack of physcial affection than to defraud a future spouse.
So what constitutes sexual sin? Jesus said even the fantasy of extramarital or premarital sexual intimacy is sin (see Matthew 5:27-30). Paul went so far as to say that we should not even allow ourselves to be in a situation where lust can be fueled (see Romans 13:14). So how much physicial intimacy should an unmarried couple experience? Slim to none. I can hear what you are saying as you read this: "Come on, Rick, be realistic. Nobody can be that puritanical." But listen to the logic of that kind of thinking. Are we really willing to say that the power of our fleshly lust is greater than the power of the Holy Spirit? Purity is possible where there is a desire and willingness to be pure.
Ask yourself if being physical is necessary. And by the way, if the person you are dating is putting pressure on you to do more or go farther, you might want to reevaluate if you're with the right person.
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