Published on July 28th, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
How Far is Too Far in Christian Dating?
By Jonathan Erdman
How far is too far sexually in Christian dating? How to honor God in your dating relationships.
First of all, let me clarify that this entire argument is presuming that certain theological presuppositions are in place. In other words, the question itself may be more applicable to those who hold to a biblical worldview. At the same time, what I am about to argue is certainly good for anyone to consider. I don’t expect someone of differing presumptions to understand, much less agree. If you hold to theological convictions other than those presented in the Bible, this may be meaningless to you.
This question is one that many couples – Christian and Non-Christian – find themselves asking. So what can a Christian couple get away with without going “too far” in a physical relationship? Is it acceptable to kiss? Or must we just hold hands? What about hugging? I mean, sex outside of marriage is a pretty obvious no-no from a biblical perspective, but where is the line really?
If you are in a serious relationship as a follower of Christ and find yourself asking this question then you must recognize that first of all that your heart is in the wrong place. You are not trying to please God with your relationship if you seek the answer to this question. Asking this is an indication that you are trying to please only yourself rather than glorify God through the relationship. Our task as Christ’s disciples is to glorify God in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31), and that includes our physical relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
We like clear boundaries. When we have clear fences, then we can get away with as much as possible without actually sinning. Then again to some, boundaries may seem like a cage or a prison limiting one’s freedom and independence. When I tell my children not to play in the street, they spend most of the time playing right at the sidewalk. They want to flirt with the line because they are trying to get as close to being wrong without actually being wrong. They whine and complain that the play area is too small. But if they could only see from my perspective that I have given them boundaries because of my desire for their safety and well-being, then they might behave differently.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day followed the same patterns. They loved the Judaic law because they could get away with whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t forsake the letter of the law. The problem with this is they could keep the law, but their hearts were far from God. They would commit heinous sins, but because they found loop-holes in the law, they were able to “get away” with it. We like laws that tell us exactly what to do to be holy. Like, the Pharisees, our hearts like to find the loop holes so we can do what we like and still be “okay.”
Part of pursuing holiness, though, means making Christ-honoring, God-exalting decisions out of a delight in pleasing our Heavenly Father. God’s glory must be our first love. And God loves to bless those who make the glory of his name their highest pleasure. He even wants to fulfill our desires for sexual pleasure! If we follow his blueprints for exploring that sort of pleasure, then he will no doubt bless it! Those blueprints, however, are not broken down into laws, but are guided by principles (outlining these principles is will have to be a wholly separate article). Therefore, instead of saying “no kissing,” or “no hugging,” let your desire to honor the Lord guide that decision. Would God be pleased by your behavior with your date?
So instead of asking, “How far is too far?” you should ask, “How can my relationship with my boyfriend/girlfriend honor God?” Is there anything you know God would not approve of?
A good passage of Scripture to read as you begin to ask this new question is Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Then be willing to start over in your relationship by honoring God in all you do.
True love, as described biblically and demonstrated by the ultimate Lover – God himself – is self-sacrificing, looking out for the needs of others rather than self (See Philippians 2!). It was because of God’s great love for mankind that he, himself, became a man and died a death he did not deserve so we could live the life we do not deserve! He knew it was the only way to restore us to himself. It was his great love for us that he lived, died, and rose again.
All of Scripture hangs on these two commands: Love God with all your heart, and love others as yourself! So pursuing your own powerful desire for sexual pleasure in a dating relationship is self-worship in its truest form. Our dating lives as Christ-worshipers should be characterized as loving our date more than ourselves!
Instead of asking, “how far is too far?” begin looking for ways to honor the Lord. Ask instead, “How can I honor God through this relationship?” Let your love for God come alongside your love for your date. When the two are not contradicting one another, then you will know you are on the right track.