Beyond The Sexual Boundaries of Dating
3 Ways The Gospel Should Inform Our Dating
First of all, before I get into the depth of this topic, I want my readers to know that I am no expert on dating, marriage, nor am I immune to sexual impurity. In my past, I have fallen into sexual sin in ways that have left me broken. I have dated terribly in my past. I am also a divorced man. But I have seen the redemption of Christ in the midst of it all. I have seen him use my past to make my heart heavy for this topic in order to speak to other brothers and sisters in Christ with boldness. I also pray that if there are any divorced men (or women) who are now single who are reading this, that I understand the struggle of being married and having access to maritial sex, then all of a sudden being divorced and having to honor God by staying pure. This is a struggle, but I promise you it is possible by God’s grace and power within you. He is not surprised by your divorce, and he is ready to walk with you during this time. I truly hope this will be encouraging for divorced men and women, for I really can empathize with you and have a heart for you.
My fiancee, Sarah Jane, and I collaborated on this post so we hope it will be helpful to men as well as women who are in dating relationships, or are even engaged like we are. Ultimately we pray that God would be glorified in our relationships and we would not allow Satan to rob us of our sexual intimacy and exctement on our wedding nights, and throughout our marriages.
We are praying for each of you as you consider the following
Countless times in my life I have thought to myself, “As a Christian, what are the sexual boundaries in dating?” Now obviously we know we are not to have sex outside of the covenant of marriage, but what can we do? Can we make out? Can we do more than that? Most of us have been in the place where we are physically attracted to our significant other so we are led to ask these questions. I have google searched it and many answers come up. Most of the answers have to do with boundaries. Things such as, do not touch this, do not touch that, or you can do this but you can’t do that. I have even come accross articles that strongly suggest not even kissing before marriage. Unfortunately, although boundaries are good and needed within a Christian dating relationship, they are not the answer to ultimately staying pure.
Because of this, many of us have asked ourselves the wrong questions when it comes to Christian dating. What we should ask is this:
How does the gospel of Jesus Christ inform the way I should view my dating relationship?
Here are three things we should consider above any boundaries we could possibly set:
1. We Are Children of the King
Scripture tells us that we are sons and daughters of God. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). Because of this, men, we must ask ourselves this question: “Would I be able to bring God’s daughter home to him after a date and he be pleased with how I treated his daughter?” And although it is the man who typically takes out the woman and returns her to her home, women are not exempt from this principle.
When we think this way, it changes how we think about our date. We stop viewing her as an object, or even the most respected woman in the world. We view her through the eyes of the Father. A daughter of the King. A person with intrinsic value as she is created in the image of God. So we do not simply respect the person we are dating, we respect the one who created our date. In this truth, we worship our Creator who is God. Even the beauty we find in the other person will lead us to this worship. What kind of Creator could create someone so magnificent? If we can shift our thinking in this way, our dating life will change dramatically.
2. Lay Aside Every Weight
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12
Many times I have asked myself, “is it a sin?” when it comes to physical intimacy in dating. Unfortunately, there are some things the Bible does not specifically address. Because of this, we get consumed by the question “is it a sin?”
When it comes to areas where Scripture seems to be silent we certainly want to dig as deep as we can into Scripture and do our best to determine the heart of God on the matter. But I have discovered in my life that there are simply things that are morally neutral. On these issues we must pay close attention to Hebrews 12 as the author writes, “let us lay aside every weight and sin…” So the writer is making a distinction between sin and anything else that would weigh us down and keep us from running the race with endurance.
So is what you are doing physically with the person you are dating help you run the race with endurance?
That’s the real question. Does this allow me to grow closer to God or does it pull me away from him? If we ask ourselves this question, it is much more tangible than “is it a sin?” In the question, “is it a sin” we are really asking, “how much can I get away with without feeling conviction?” What if our questions were different? What if the questions we asked were more along the lines of, “does this specific act bring me closer to the one who made me?” If your answer to that question is no, then it seems pretty clear that it is not something you want to “get away with”.
3. Only Christ Can Satisfy Our Souls
In sexual intimacy we are all looking to be satisfied. We were created for intimacy in this way. We long for the satisfaction that sex brings. But as people created in God’s image and children of the King, we long for so much more than physical satisfaction. What we long for is the satisfaction that only Christ brings. That is deep and true satisfaction that is sealed with a covenant. So Christians, when you have sex with one who is not your spouse, it will not ultimately satisfy you because it is completely outside the will of God. It was never meant to satisfy you on its own, and it is actually incapable of achieving that goal. However, inside the covenant of marriage, sex is satisfying because our satisfaction goes past the act of sex to the giver and creator of sex, who is God. When this happens, our hearts explode in worship to God, for we have been satisfied in him. Anything short of this type of sex will leave you empty.
Celebrate What God Has Done
Ultimately, in dating, we should celebrate that God has attracted our bodies and souls to another human and as our bodies long to be with the other in the most intimate of acts, our souls have the opportunity to long for the covenant to be made in marriage. Longing for that day is much like the Christian longing for God to make “all sad things become untrue,” for all the hurt, all the pain and all of life to be fully redeemed and consummated to the Creator.
Keep pressing into Christ,
Jeremy & Sarah Jane
A couple of books we recommend on this topic:
The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler
The Meaning of Marraige by Timothy Keller