How far is too far in a dating relationship? This question is incredibly common because it can seem like the Bible doesn’t have any clear, direct instruction. Jesus does not directly say “This is how you should act when you are dating another person,” but much of the New Testament has instruction for how to conduct yourself relationally. Talk with your significant other and set boundaries to set your relationship on a path that is healthy and God honoring.
- Think about the question with the right frame of mind. Many people ask this question because not only do they not want to cross a line and disobey God, but they want permission to do everything that doesn’t seem to reach that point. They view it like hiking: I can wander around and enjoy everything before the cliff, but I won’t go over the cliff. Getting to the edge can be dangerous, though, because
- It’s called foreplay for a reason. You do it to get ready to have sex, so why do something that puts you in the frame of mind to cross the line? Sticking with the hiking analogy, why swing your legs over the edge of the cliff and lean over if you are very adamantly trying not to go over the edge?
- The Bible (1 Timothy 5) talks about how relationships should look. We are to relate to others of the opposite sex as if they are our parent or sibling, in all purity. You should treat the person you are dating with as much respect as you treat your parent, brother, or sister. Any physical touch or conversation should be motivated out of a loving respect you have for them, not a lustful desire.
- Premature physical intimacy can negatively affect your relationship. Sex can keep you in a bad relationship longer than you want to be there, or drive you out of a good relationship because of guilt or frustration. Foreplay can have the same, intoxicating affect. It can keep you in a relationship that you know if not emotionally, or even physically, healthy for you, and blind you from what a truly fulfilling dating relationship looks like.
- The greatest gift of trust you can give them is physical purity. You’re modeling that you are not just going to do what you want, but what is respectful and loving. If you and the person you’re dating have set clear boundaries, but you cross it, then your word is broken and it will be difficult to trust that you will not break your word in marriage. But if you make it clear that you listen to God and honor them, they will trust you in more than physical purity.
- Don’t do now what is saved for marriage. The Bible is clear that the only person you treat differently than a parent, brother, or sister is your spouse. Just as you would not lust for a parent in your heart or through your actions, do not do so with someone who isn’t your spouse.
Setting boundaries and having a God honoring relationship is not always easy, so surround yourself with people who can help keep you accountable. Ultimately, your relationship with God should be strengthened by someone you are in a relationship with, not hindered.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- As a Christian, why is it important to have a relationship that honors God?
- What motivated you to ask the question, “How far is too far?”
- Read 1 Timothy 5:2. How should you treat your significant other? Does it align with how you currently treat them?
- How can physical intimacy damage a relationship?
- How is trust associated with boundaries? How can you build trust now that will help in marriage?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.