First off, thank you for being such an encouragement through your posts! I understand that when dating, the physical boundaries are different (to a degree) for each relationship, but what are some ways to figure out what those physical boundaries should be?
Dear friend, please brace yourself a bit.
Seriously, spoiler alert.
I make out with my girlfriend.
I know, I know. Gross. I’m a Christian (gasp), a pastor (gasp!), and a Christian blogging pastor (Futurama gasp!!), and I am probably giving you the wrong idea.
Please understand I am NOT condoning this for you. What is okay for me might not work for you, and vice versa. But I feel like Christians never admit this sort of stuff, and I’m waiting for the day John Piper or John MacArthur talk about how tough it was to keep their nasty sweaty sixteen-year-old hands off their wives-to-be — because you know, it would be nice to know we’re all human beings.
So with that out of the way, please allow me the grace to break down a few things.
1) Physical boundaries cannot be merely to limit something, but to lead to something greater. If you’re only concerned about how to avoid things, then your focus is an anti-state of negativity. This will never work. There has to be some kind of direction forward and a bigger picture.
2) There is way more to a relationship than your sexuality. I know it’s really difficult to keep your hands off each other, but one day your hormones will burn out anyway. If your relationship is wrapped up in either super-purity or hyper-chemistry, then it won’t be grounded in anything real.
3) A relationship focused on purity is bound to fail. If you think staying “pure” is tough, you don’t know the half of it.
There’s also: communication, speaking encouragement, praying with and for each other, sharing Scripture, staying intimate with God, graciously rebuking, spiritually guiding, having date night and enjoying one another, finding a stable church, serving in ministry as a team, getting on the same page, financial unity, aligning visions, aligning convictions, settling disagreements, learning how to fight well, handling extended family members, raising other human life-forms, staying faithful, staying friends, and dying together. Physical boundaries are important before marriage: but they’re nowhere near the top priority.
4) Purity is a virtue given by God, not achieved by you. I understand our need to stay “pure” and all the cultural stigma with impurity: but no one is really pure. Yes, we can fight for it, but no, it is not a grade of your human value or identity.
5) You already know your physical boundaries. When most people ask me, “How far can I go?” — they’re already asking the wrong question. You and I know the motive behind it. It’s like when a kid puts his hand in your face and says, “I’m not touching you!” They’re still being an annoying punk.
I think if you search your heart on this, even without consulting God (which you should), then you know what’s best for you. I think you have a good idea of what you want for your kids. You know at which point you become a mindless monster. You know what needs to change. You know that if you cross a certain line before marriage, the relationship can change into an impersonal, flesh-dumping receptacle.
I don’t mean to be so crude or prude: but nearly everyone who asks “how far” is just playing dumb. I want to give you some credit here and suggest that you are smart enough to know where to draw the line.
More than that, I believe we’re smart enough to know that drawing a line is only one part of the whole thing. Certainly, we must consider a battle plan to fight off sin: but the entire point is to run towards Him.
I’ll also add: If you’ve already crossed the line, God still has grace for you. You’re not “dirty” or “ruined” or “once a cheater, always a cheater.” You are not your past and you are not what’s been done to you. God loves you regardless.
I’m friends with those who have been raped (I refuse to call them “rape victims”) who feel like it’s their fault; I’ve talked with sex addicts who think there’s no hope; I myself was a porn addict for fifteen years — and God has grace for all of us. He restores all the broken pieces. He heals the wounds and He makes things new. He is the one who “gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). No one is outside the gracious powerful sovereignty of God.
If you’re in a relationship now where you’ve broken a boundary, it is not too late. Make a plan, get accountability, and pray for a vision moving forward. Serve together and get on God’s mission and draw to the heart of Jesus. It’s okay if you decide to take a break or break up or fast from one another for a while. Whatever you decide: cling to Christ. You’ll make it through.