How Far Is Too Far Sexually?
- Cliff Young & Laura MacCorkle Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer & Senior Editor
- Published Nov 23, 2011
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column featuring 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 or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: There is a question that has been on my mind for some time now. As dating singles I wonder how far we should go sexually. What I mean is in the world that we live in there are people moving in together, having sex, kids, etc. I know that the Bible only favors this in a marriage. But what about things like kissing and sharing a bed (with no sexual intercourse)? It'll mean a lot to get a Christian view on this.
HE SAID: I am sure every youth and singles group from every church of every denomination has tackled this question at some point or another, because it is a struggle most people deal with in both dating and serious relationships.
The Bible is clear, although not always detailed, with what is permissible in regards to our actions within relationships. And we, in our amazing minds of creativity, reason and deduction can generate the most credible sounding explanations of why it is justifiable and sometimes even beneficial to take action with our immoral decisions.
When it comes to determining where to draw the line, which is what in essence what you’re asking, I would defer to 1 Corinthians 10:32-33.
Do not cause anyone to stumble . . . for I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
What many of us fail to recognize is that our actions impact others. Whether we are in direct contact with them or only known by social media, what we do can affect how others act and think. Our example gives credence to younger believers and we must consider the good of many rather than seek my own good.
If either of you have had a problem with controlling your actions or “stopping” at a certain point (i.e. kissing, cuddling, etc.), in this or a past relationship, then you don’t need to proceed near that road. Maybe self-control isn’t a problem and lying with someone in bed doesn’t trigger further emotions, but it still sets a poor example to others who may struggle.
I understand the temptations we face with the media, social expectations and pressures and desires of the heart (and body), in regards to relationships. Nevertheless, if we have truly placed our relationship with Jesus first and foremost, wouldn’t we want to satisfy him before we tried to satisfy ourselves? It’s just a thought.
SHE SAID: I think the longer we stay single, the more difficult it is to remain sexually pure. God has created us with “the urge to merge” so to speak, and it is very natural to be attracted to someone (“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” said Adam upon first seeing Eve. Maybe that was the twenty-first century version of “Whoa, mama!”).
The key is what we do with those feelings when they are aroused. Do we act on them? Or do we ignore them? Or do we figure out where to file them away until the proper time, so we’re still honoring God while waiting for marriage?
A lot of us have greatly struggled in this area in our single lives. And I must say that at this stage in the wide world of dating, I am leaning more toward “less is more.” And by that I mean I am more and more a fan of those who choose not to kiss until they marry. As in, only holding hands and that’s all.
I’ll pause here a moment for the chuckles. I know. At one point in time, I thought people who restrained themselves in that kind of way until marriage were a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Why wouldn’t you want to kiss someone you were dating or engaged to marry? What’s the harm of that? Isn’t that normal?
Yes, an approrpiate smooch is a normal expression. But still, I can see how wise this type of precaution can really be—especially for two people who are highly attracted to one another and do not want to cross any physical boundaries that would be inappropriate and also want to be mindful that their bodies are temples of the living God and should be used to honor him accordingly (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Years ago in my high school youth group at church, I remember hearing somewhere that hands should never be where a swimsuit would cover you up. So for women, that means anywhere from the top of your thighs up to your collarbone (basically). And for men, from the waist down to mid-thighs or top of the knees. I think that’s a good place to start if you are unsure of where you can or can’t touch someone or what areas may or may not be “hot spots.”
I’ve also heard to treat the person you are dating as someone else’s future husband or wife. You wouldn’t do anything inappropriate with someone else’s spouse would you? It’s another practical safeguard to help you treat the person you’re dating with the utmost respect and to do your part in helping to protect his or her purity.
And then I’ve also heard (again, in youth group), that “it only takes a spark to get a fire going.” But maybe that was about something else . . .
Anyway, you’re right in that the Bible is very clear that sex was created only for those who are married (Genesis 2:24). And to me that extends to the “appearance” of sex as well, which would include sharing a bed with someone . . . even when there is no intercourse involved (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Pure and simple, when you lie next to someone you are dating or are attracted to, you are just inviting trouble. At that point, the temptation to take baby steps toward intercourse is great. So why would you even want to put yourself into that type of situation?
In the end, if you are walking with the Lord and seeking him in your relationship, you will be open to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit. But also use your God-give brain power and do your part. Make smart decisions about how and where and when you spend time with someone you are dating. If you are careful and intentional about your physical boundaries in your dating relationship, then I believe you can be protected from the harmful consequences that can happen when purity is not the goal.
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, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family 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.
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 twenty-first 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!).
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