He Said-She Said: Unmarried and Vacationing Together
- Thursday, April 09, 2009
EDITOR’S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: Is it okay for an unmarried man and woman to go on vacation together?
HE SAID: Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive (1 Corinthians 10:23).
This passage falls into a section of 1 Corinthians sometimes labeled, “The Believer’s Freedom.” I often hear it used to rationalize or refute one’s actions. Even though Paul spoke this to the Corinthians in regards to eating, this verse can also shed light upon the question of vacationing with an unmarried person of the opposite sex.
Paul seems to be saying in one breath, “Do anything you want, it is okay,” yet in another, “That may not be such a good idea.” Our initial belief or opinion often dictates which statement we put more emphasis on.
A younger (or less mature) person may receive this counsel, focus on the former part, and use it to justify their actions. An adult (or mature believer) should focus on the latter, taking the time to consider the ramifications of their decisions and ensure their actions are both beneficial and constructive.
In answering your question, I have to ask a series of my own questions:
What is the ultimate purpose, intent, and expectation for vacationing with this single person of the opposite sex?
Your honest reply to this may answer your own question.
Oftentimes I can justify my intentions as pure and honorable, yet when I am honest with myself (and with the Lord) I sometimes fall short. I find some of my decisions are made from a more self-serving perspective rather than one of selflessness.
Have you discussed your purpose and expectations with the one you are considering traveling with? Has the other person shared with you his or her reasons for wanting to go? Don’t assume anything, communicating intent and desire is essential before taking a trip. Honest communication is the foundation of any friendship or relationship.
Is the other person your significant other?
If he or she is, how would you feel if your future spouse went on a vacation alone with another person whom he or she was dating at the time? Would that impact your impression of him or her?
Even if you both believe you have found your “soul mate” in one another, boundaries must be established, not only if you travel together, but also for anytime you are alone. Successful relationships have pre-determined boundaries.
If this is just a friend, do you desire the person to become your significant other?
If so, your answer to my first question may have already answered yours.
If you have a friendship with someone with hopes of growing it into a relationship, there is no reason for you to travel alone with that person. If things were to develop into a relationship during the vacation, will you be able to communicate honestly, establish boundaries and be accountable in the heat of the moment? Chances are, probably not.
Why aren’t others asked to go along?
If you want to be totally alone with an unmarried person of the opposite sex on vacation, significant other or not, it would be safe to say there are probably more good reasons you shouldn’t be doing it rather than reasons you should.
I have taken a number of vacations with groups of singles. On some of the trips, I had interest in another person going and other times not. In every instance though, I always made sure we would be accountable to others and have boundaries during the trip.
Paul shares with us one more thing to think about in his next statement.
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24).
As a long-time single, it’s easy to think of my own wants, needs and desires first. However as a follower of Christ, Paul says I shouldn’t be seeking my own good, but the good of others. I need to consider how my actions may negatively influence or impact the thoughts and actions of those around me before making a decision.
Will vacationing with another single of the opposite sex sway those around you? Will it give a younger believer the approval to do the same? How would your vacation affect your witness to others?
In any case, there is not a biblical or moral definitive “Okay” or “Not Okay” for traveling with an unmarried person of the opposite sex. However, Paul challenges us in these verses to make our decisions and actions beneficial, constructive and with the good of others in mind.
Can you do this ... honestly?
SHE SAID: Technically, there is nothing wrong with an unmarried man vacationing together with an unmarried woman.
But, as a believer, how are we to live? Technically or biblically? Technically stays on the surface and relies on what we know to be true (and however Satan may be deceiving us and or how we are distorting what we think is truth). Biblically goes much deeper (to the heart) and relies on what God says is Truth.
My interpretation of living biblically is living in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and headed toward holiness; it goes much further than living technically. And if you want to live biblically, then you must search the Bible, apply it to all areas of your life and be open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in and through you.
Getting to the heart of the matter (literally), first examine your motivation. What is your purpose of vacationing alone with someone else? For the sake of my answer and for its brevity, I will assume that you are attracted to one another and want to enjoy travelling to a destination together as romantic partners.
Now, considering that there is attraction and that you are interested in one another for more than friendship, then know that there will be temptation involved. And if you are planning on keeping yourself pure until marriage (meaning you do not want to engage in premarital sex), then you are putting yourself into a situation where you will be tempted. It’s not a matter of if, but when it will happen while you’re on vacation (James 1:13-15).
Before you even go there, make sure you test your actions (Galatians 6:4a). What are your desires? Are they God-honoring or self-gratifying? Also, know in advance that you will reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8). So, if you don’t sow wisely, then there’s not going to be a good outcome.
If you are committed to maintaining purity, then it would be good for you to reflect on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6a before deciding whether to vacation together and consider whether this could be a situation in which you will be tempted and not able to control yourself:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.
Another important point to consider is how your actions will be perceived by others. If someone you know—say a younger brother or sister in Christ—hears that you have vacationed alone with another unmarried person of the opposite sex, what will they think? (And quite honestly, what would you think?)
In today’s day and age, it is automatically assumed that you will be sharing a hotel room and are sleeping together—even if you are not. Perception is reality. So could this interpretation cause someone to become confused and reject Christianity because of your example? It’s something to think about. As a believer, you are ultimately held responsible for your actions and how they impact others.
Ponder “The Believer’s Freedom” passage in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33:
“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom, be judged by another’s conscience” If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Before you make your final decision of whether or not to vacation together, may I advise you to please spend some considerable time in prayer.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7b).
Ask God to search your heart and reveal anything that is not clean or pure or glorifying to him (Psalm 51). Know that he has given us his Word to help us and for our own good (even though it may just seem like rules, rules, rules!). Like a good parent, our heavenly Father loves us and has set up perimeters to protect us and to keep us from falling into harmful and hurtful life stiuations.
One final suggestion: if you do decide to vacation together, consider doing so with a group of friends or with family members (who are also committed to pursuing holiness) so that you may keep each other accountable, safeguard your actions and promote good choices while you are away from home.
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com’s Senior Entertainment Editor. She loves God, her family and and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who’s counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one. Visit her personal blog here.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We’re just average folk who understand what it’s like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life’s questions, and it’s where we’ll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you’ve got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on April 9, 2009.
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