I cannot count how many times I have scoured the internet for articles on the topic of purity in Christian dating. A part of me just hoped I would find a clearly defined list of rules and regulations on what was acceptable or not. However, I could never seem to find a consistent and clear answer to the question “What’s okay to do physically when dating and what’s not as a Christian?”  I would stumble upon articles by pastors or concerned parents trying to steer young adults in the direction of purity but often times steering them right to it. I would also come across articles by new age millennials whom believed sexuality was open to the interpreter. In both cases, I only seemed to find opinion pieces and it was a struggle to find Biblical truth on the topic.

The truth is, nowhere in its 66 books does the Bible talk about dating and physical boundaries overtly. While the Bible does clearly outline that sex was designed and intended for marriage (See 1 Corinthians 7:1-16) it does not seem to address the topics of passionate kissing, touching or other physical acts that couples participate in other than sexual intercourse. This leaves many of us wondering are those “other behaviors” OK when dating?

In my hunt to try to find some personal clarity on the topic, I spent time reviewing all the scripture that mentions sex in the Bible. Theses verses seemed to be divided into two categories; verses about sex in marriage and verses about sexual immorality. When I started to look at the two groups of passages in conjunction to each other the gray area was not as gray anymore.

While it would have been easier to put together a list of “do’s and don’ts” like I had once looked for … I would like to share with you the verses I studied. Take a look at the parameters they place and see how they may help you in discerning the boundaries in your own dating relationships.

SEX IN MARRIAGE

To begin with, I want to share a few verses that describe what sex entails in marriage.

One of the most notable being Mark 10:6-8:

But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. ’‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh”.

Basic enough right?  Let us now visit Proverbs 5:18-19:

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”

A tad racy wouldn’t you say? Let’s also look at the book of Song of Songs one of the more talked about books in the Bible for its colorful content. What is key to keep in mind is that this book is describing the acts between a married couple:

“Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit.  I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. May the wine go straight to my beloved, flowing gently over lips and teeth. I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.  Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages.” (Song of Songs 7:7-11)

While these verses of the Bible may cause a few of us to turn red when reading them, they are outlining what a healthy God-honoring physical relationship between a husband and wife should look like. In each passage, the title wife is mentioned not mistress or lover.

SEXUAL IMMORALITY

Now let’s look at the other set off passages mentioning sex in the Bible. Those on sexual immortality.

In 1 Corinthians 6:15-19 Paul describes what sexual immorality means:

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 stressing the importance of self-control when it comes to one’s sexuality stating:

“ It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;”.

Additionally Matthew writes about it in his gospel stating:

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.(Matthew 5:28)

Lastly, a verse that personally convicted me was Ephesians 5:3:

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

RELATED: 7 Surprising Lessons I Learned from Dating a Stranger

Piecing It Together

We can conclude several things based on God’s Word about sex. We read it is intended for marriage. Marriage is between one man and one women and that it is the joining of two people mentally and physically as one.  We also read in the book Song of Songs what behavior prepare the body for sex that are acceptable between a husband and wife.

The human body is an amazing creation of God that has been designed for sex. It would be naive for us to think we are free from temptation when it comes to human sexuality just because we are Christians.

Physiologically stopping the body from entering a place of no return when it comes to sex is almost nearly impossible and to be blunt, no one can stop it.

This could be why the Bible says to “avoid it”, “flee from it, “there must not be even a hint of it”. Our Creator knows that it is a challenge. He knows that our minds and bodies sometimes just do not line up. God wants the best for us and these verses are His way of helping us receive the gift of sex in the way He intended. While I cannot tell you what this should look like in your dating relationship, I encourage you to pray and sit with these verses. Allow all that you do to be Biblically-based and Spirit-led.  The Lord provides us with a conscious mind and your gut instinct of what is right and wrong is the Holy Spirit working within you.

Born Again Virgin

Research shows that 3% of Americans have waited until marriage to have sex and in the church only 20% have waited. Statistically that means 80% in the church have participated in pre-marital sex [1]. If you have gone too far in a dating relationship or feel that you crossed a boundary, remember you are forgiven. God’s grace is amazing and upon repentance, He will wipe your sin away allowing you to start over with a fresh start.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”1 (John 1-1:9)

[1] Statistics abstracted from http://waitingtillmarriage.org/4-cool-statistics-about-abstinence-in-the-usa/

Stephanie Noel is an admissions recruiter and resident director at a Christian college in Chicago. Stephanie loves to mentor and develop relationships with the twenty-somethings in her life as many had done for her. When not working on campus Stephanie enjoys listening to music and blogging. She has written for Amplified Magazine and Mod City Mag both as a music contributor.