Christian dating and sex is a hot topic in today’s culture. I’m thankful for my friend, Ana, and her perspective on dating and sex in our series on intimacy and Christian sex.
Christian Dating and Sex
Dating for Today’s Christian: How Far is Too Far?
“You know you don’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, right?”
It was a little awkward. A friend. A male friend was trying to tell me that sex before marriage was a must by comparing it to a vehicle purchase.
He was looking out for me (or so he said) and trying to keep me from “purchasing” a lemon.
I was a single mom with two young kids at the time so we can go ahead and just address the elephant in the room. I had already had sex. At least twice.
But I wasn’t a believer when I got married the first time around. Dating as a single mom and, even more so, dating as a new Christian was going to be a challenge.
I knew sex before marriage was a big no-no in the Bible but the question that seemed to continuously arise was the line between what was okay and what wasn’t when it came down to physical intimacy before marriage. I mean, exactly how far was too far?
What Does the Bible Actually Say About Sex Before Marriage?
From the very beginning, God intended for man and woman to be united together.
After no suitable helper could be found, God created Eve. Adam said she was “bone of [his] bone and flesh of [his] flesh… That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24, NIV).
We were meant to be one flesh. When flesh is torn, it’s never the same. And when we finally do go into our marriage, if we’ve overstepped the bounds of Christian dating and sex, we are already (metaphorically speaking) torn. Damaged. A difficult way to begin happily ever after, don’t you think?
Remaining abstinent though is not about taking away joy. It’s about protecting us from the consequences of sex outside of marriage – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It helps to create a healthy Christian sexuality when we enter marriage.
Premarital Sex: A Cliff or A Lion
Several years ago, my husband and I hiked a trail in North Georgia called Raven Cliffs. It’s a great trail with some waterfalls (which I absolutely love). At the top of the trail is a tree root system up to the top waterfall. It is amazing and terrifying. For this fraidy cat anyway.
My husband, though, was content just crawling to the edge of the cliff, sitting down, and looking over.
Many people take the same approach to sex within a Christian dating relationship. Their mindset is one of ‘How close to the edge can I get before falling off the precipice?’
Sexual sin though is not like a cliff. It is more like a roaring lion. In fact, the devil is even described as a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And sexual sin is one of the many tools he uses.
If you were on a safari and heard a roaring lion, would you venture away from the safety of the vehicle to see how close you could get before being devoured?
Me neither. In fact, I wouldn’t even get out of the vehicle.
We need to treat Christian dating and sex in this same way.
How Far is Too Far When Dating?
Even non-believers know the Bible says vaginal intercourse before marriage is a no-no. But what about some mutual touching? Or even oral sex? What exactly is okay?
Well, the Bible doesn’t specifically say.
Is it fair to say that everything-but is okay then? The enemy would like us to think so.
What is the Right Question Then?
The important thing to remember is that God calls us to “be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). If we want to stay as close to holy as possible (which we do), then having a mindset of “How far is too far in Christian dating and sex?” is actually keeping us in pursuit of being as close to sinning as possible without actually sinning.
The exact opposite direction of being holy.
After all, “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your [body].” (1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20). So the question isn’t ‘How far is too far?’ It should be ‘How can I honor God with my body in this relationship?’
And if you have to ask yourself, “Is this too far?” then you are allowing yourself to be exposed to too much temptation. You are moving yourself away from holiness.
Practically speaking, would someone get asked to leave if a loved one walked in? Hmm…
Use our Christian sex guide as an excellent resource on what is permissible in the bedroom regarding Christian dating and sex.
What If I’m Already Having Sex?
If you are already having premarital sex, it is not too late to stop. It will be a challenge though! I speak from experience here. The temptation will be tremendous. You will need to put boundaries in place. Use the Christian sex rules to discover boundaries that help you to honor God with your body.
God will provide a way out when you are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). You can “stay on the path of purity” by living “according to His word” (Psalm 119:9).
Remember that even Jesus was tempted. When the enemy whispered in his ear (even using scripture in his arguments), Jesus fought the temptation through his knowledge of scripture.
As far as what physical contact is allowable while dating as a Christian, I think Susanna Wesley said it perfectly, “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”
In a world that glamorizes sexual relationships, others will try to convince you that Christian dating and sex is all right. Avoid that which “obscures your sense of God” and “increases the authority” of your body. When others pursue fulfillment inside a sexual relationship, pursue holiness.
That’s a relationship you can dive right into. No test drive necessary.
Ana Bright is a stay-at-home mom to 5 wildly wonderful kiddos, a happy wife to her hysterical husband, and an imperfect lover of Jesus. In her previous life, she taught high school math by day and fought the never-ending battle with laundry and terrible home-cooking at night. Now, she homeschools her littles, still fights with the laundry, and still loves Jesus imperfectly.
She blogs about faith, marriage, parenting, and family fun at Home à la Mama. The heart of homemaking with a little laughter… and a whole lotta Jesus. You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.