By: Benjamin Lam, Resonate Pullman
I had sex with my girlfriend. That’s something I never thought I would say. My mom had the sex talk with me growing up and always told me that sex was a special, sacred thing for marriage. I prided myself on being a “Christian” guy and desired to do dating differently than the “world”, but in reality, I knew very little about how to do that practically,or the reasons behind waiting till marriage. My lack of understanding and intention in this area led to a sexual relationship with my college girlfriend. I had been toeing the line of “how far is too far” until I was in too deep.
Instead of asking about the rules of sex in dating, I should have been asking about the purpose God intended. God loves marriage and sex. He created marriage in the Garden of Eden, when He said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone and created a wife for him. He created sex to be part of the process of two souls mingling and becoming one for the purpose of glorifying Him.
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” – Mark 10:7-8
Marriage and sex are meant to honor God and not our own selfish desires. It is meant for two people to join together to glorify God through sanctification, making disciples, and being made more like Him. But short of arranged marriages, the average person in America does not jump from being single to being married in one leap, hence we have dating.
The Bible does not directly speak to dating. It only speaks of two clear statuses: married and unmarried. Since dating is not marriage, the purpose of dating is to seek clarity on marriage, not to “try marriage on for size” to test compatibility. In my past relationships, I have sought ultimate intimacy, which led to desiring more, and how I ended up crossing the line. In God’s design, true intimacy comes only within the covenant of marriage. The purpose of dating is to pursue clarity, not intimacy.
Even outside of the Bible, there are scientific and practical reasons to wait to seek intimacy and sex until marriage. You’ve probably heard of the hormone oxytocin, it is one of the hormones that our brain releases during physically intimate activities. This hormone promotes emotional bonding and is not easily reversed. There is a reason when you break up with someone, it feels like your heart is breaking. You are not just severing a social bond, but a deep-seated emotional one. So both practically and scientifically, it is unwise to seek out physical intimacy with someone you are not planning to spend the rest of your life with. Regardless of how much you or those around you may deny it, sex is an extremely bonding experience. This is not to say you shouldn’t hold hands, snuggle with, or kiss someone you are dating, but to be wise about it.
Paul addresses the “how far is too far” question in 1 Corinthians 6:8: “Flee from sexual immorality.” He doesn’t say, flirt with the line of sex and see how close you can get to it. He says flee: run away from the danger of sexual immorality. Paul knows that we often deceive ourselves into thinking we are stronger than we actually are. When I was dating my ex, I told myself I was strong enough to resist the temptation. We toed the line with little steps we told ourselves were harmless, all the while numbing our hearts to the direction to flee these things that lead us to more temptation and sex.
As a result, the answer to the question of how far is too far is any step towards sexual immorality. We are all capable of committing any sin, given certain circumstances. It’s easy to think that you are strong enough to resist the temptation to sleep with your boyfriend or girlfriend and see how close you can get to sexual immorality without sinning.
Practically, fleeing from sexual immorality looks different for every person and couple and will vary at different times. There is no cookie cutter, foolproof solution, but the key is to address it sooner rather than later. As such, here are some practical steps to take towards fleeing from sexual immorality in your relationship:
Instead of intimacy with each other, pursue clarity and Christ in your dating relationship as the ultimate goal
Invite community into your relationship, don’t just tell them about it. Ask them to help you set and maintain healthy boundaries, and to pick your eyes up when you lose vision for why this matters
Be brutally honest with yourself about where you’re weak. Don’t believe the lies that you are strong enough to resist the temptation on your own or that you will never go that far. Invite God in to renew your mindset daily and help give you vision and grace
Communicate. Being upfront and honest about your intention for physical and emotional intimacy will help prevent awkward moments and slippery slopes in your relationship
My life has drastically changed since sleeping with my girlfriend. God offers us so much grace through Jesus on the cross. He has redeemed my life and my mindset on dating, so it is never too late to start honoring God with your relationship. The ultimate reward in dating is a marriage spent enjoying Christ-centered intimacy, pointing others to Christ and making disciples together for the rest of your life. Don’t stop along the way and get something quicker, cheaper, and ultimately, less satisfying. Wait on the Lord, fight the good fight, and seek a Christ-centered relationship, it is all worth it.