How Far is Too Far in a Dating Relationship?

This is a question that the church and we as Christians have shyed away from for far too long. Our young people are involved in sexual activities that they think are okay because no one has ever been specific enough with them to define the term "sexual immorality."

I feel partly responsible as a Christian when I hear that only 10% of girls and 8% of guys are virgins when they get married. In 1998, one in five Americans had a sexually transmitted disease. The number of unwed mothers rises each year.

What about all the other sexual activities that people, even "Christians", engage in before marriage?

Movies, television, magazines, the internet and other tools the Devil uses convince us that sex before marriage is okay as long as you're committed to that person. The Bible says otherwise.

We must always turn to scriptures for answers. We must never simply lean upon the beliefs of other people. We must see what God says about any subject.

Starting with the basics, according to scripture, premarital sexual intercourse is definitely wrong.

Genesis 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

Note the "one flesh" comes after woman becomes "wife". The "one flesh" applies both spiritually and physically.

Hebrews 13:4 "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral."

Let's look at the term "sexually immoral" or "sexual immorality". Your translation of the Bible may say "fornication". These terms come from the Greek word "porneia". Since the Bible was first written in Greek, we must always look back to the language to get the original meaning of phrases we find confusing. Porneia is defined as the following:

PORNEIA: A wide variety of sexual activities before or outside of marriage; it is not limited to consummated sexual acts (intercourse). Any intimate sexual activity or play outside the marriage relationship, including the touching of the intimate parts of the body or seeing another person's nakedness, is included in this term.

In other words, the term "sexual immorality" or "porneia" includes such things as: oral sex, dry sex (sex with clothes on), fondling, taking showers together, petting and mutual stimulation.

You will hardly ever hear any of those terms in a church setting. That has been a big mistake! The church should be a place where the truth is spoken. Christian young people are sinning without knowing it because the members of the church are too embarrassed to name specific terms. God forgive us!

Our bodies are holy. What do you think of when you hear the word holy? How about a Bible? The Lord's Supper? The baptistry? Or how about the church building?

Jeff Walling made a great point about holiness in a talk I heard him deliver a few years ago. He asked a few simple questions that were very thought provoking.

"What would you do if you saw me rip some pages out of a Bible right now?" Jeff asked. "What if I took a communion tray and played frisbee with it out on the front lawn after services? What if I put on my bathing suit and started doing can-openers into the baptistry? If I did any of these things, you would think I was being sacreligious. Playing with things so holy must be a sin, right?"

What difference is there when we play with each others' bodies? Here are a couple of scriptures telling us about the holiness of our bodies:

1 Corinthians 3:16 "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Romans 12:1 "Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."

The temple in Old Testament times was a very holy place. One part of it was called the "Holy of Holies". Only the high priest was allowed to enter this part of the temple and only at certain times.

I think there is a very interesting parallel here. We are God's temple and our sexual purity should be our "Holy of Holies", meant only for one person to experience at a certain time.

Let's look at some other scriptures about fleeing from sexual immorality, keeping in mind the definition of "porneia."

Romans 13:12-14 "...So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

Ephesians 5:3 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."


1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 "It is God's will that you should be sanctified (or made holy): 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."

Galatians 5:19-21 "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Not inherit the kingdom of God? How many people do we know who are caught in some of the sins listed above?

Colossians 3:5-6 "Put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."

We don't talk enough about God's wrath. We always picture God as a grandfather with a stick of gum in his hand. God is a jealous God. He wants us to be for Him and obey His commands!

I am convinced that avoiding sexual sin is the number one challenge today for high school and college students. Males reach their sexual peak at 19 years old. However, God has told us in his word that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear:

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Sometimes in dating relationships young people make "the way out" extremely difficult to find. Dating couples that end up in an empty house, bedroom or a parked car in a dark place often let their defenses down and give in to the pressure of lust.

Guys are especially notorious for using the word "love" at some of the most hideous times.

"If you love me you'll have sex with me."
"I love you. You love me. What else matters?"
"I love you and we're going to get married someday, so it's okay."
"If you love me we can at least have oral sex."

What is love? Let's see what the scriptures say.

1 Corinthians 13:5 "Love is patient, love is is not self-seeking."

Patient? That's right.

Girls, guys who tell you they love you but can't be patient enough to wait until marriage to share in sexual relations with you don't love you. They're self-seeking. They're in it for what they can get off you sexually then and there. Odds are after they've conquered you sexually they'll move on to another challenge because you've already been solved.

Guys, if you truly love a girl, you'll respect her and wait until you're married to experience her body.

I know when discussing this topic I'm speaking to two sets of people. Those who have already lost their sexual purity and those who are protecting it.

To those of you who are still virgins, keep the faith! There are others who are trying just like you to remain sexually pure. Never let anyone tell you that you're expecting too much out of your future husband or wife if you've waited sexually and you want them to have done the same.

If someone insults you for being a virgin or says something negative about your virginity, simply point out to them that you can be like them any day you want, but no matter how hard they try they can NEVER be like you!

To those of you who have already shared yourself sexually with someone else, even if you haven't "gone all the way", you're probably feeling guilty at this point. There's good news! God forgives!

In John 8 we read about Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery. He tells her, "Go now and leave your life of sin." We've all sinned and messed up many times in our lives. God forgives us if we're willing to repent and leave our lives of sin. The great thing is we can leave our lives of sin anytime, anywhere.

Somewhere out there right now your future husband or wife is probably dating someone. If you're dating, you're dating somebody's future husband or wife. How would you want your future husband or wife to behave on a date? Shouldn't they expect the same of you?

Pray for your future mate. Pray that they have the strength to resist the temptation of sexual sin.

I like to compare saving ourselves for marriage to roses. Imagine if you will, three roses.

The first rose has had all of its wrapping taken off. The baby's breath is long gone. The greenery is wilted because it has been exposed to too much light. Some of the petals have fallen off. It isn't very pleasing to the eye.

The second rose isn't in as bad a shape. It's wrapping is still there, but barely hanging on. It has lost only a couple of petals and its baby's breath has a few broken stems.

The third rose is exactly the same as the day it bloomed. Perfect. Ribbon still intact. Wrapping still securely fastened around the rose and the greenery. Baby's breath still as white as ever. Greenery glistening. All of its petals are in place and in full bloom. The scent is heaven-sent.

If the three roses symbolize your sexual purity, which rose do you want to present your husband or wife on your wedding night?

Consider & discuss the following questions:

How has your view of what is sexually immoral changed now that you know the meaning of the Greek word “porneia”?

Why is it hard for us to consider ourselves as “holy”?

What can we do before marriage to lessen the hunger for sexual fulfillment?

What situations should we avoid to lessen the Devil’s chances of convincing us to sin sexually?

Why would most people consider ripping the pages of a Bible, playing frisbee with communion plates and swimming in the baptistry to be far greater sins than fondling, petting, oral sex, etc.?

Your future husband or wife is somewhere out there right now, maybe dating somebody else. How far sexually in a dating relationship is okay for your future husband or wife to go?