The Bare Facts: How Far Is Too Far?

Wow! Almost one hundred of you responded to our post last week where we asked for your questions about sex. (And five lucky readers won a free copy of The Bare Facts by Josh McDowell and yours truly). If you missed it, you can check it out here. We are going to be tackling your honest and thoughtful questions about this delicate subject over the next several weeks. Today I want to answer an important question posed by Caroline. She asked two great questions about sex, one focused on boundaries outside of marriage and one about boundaries police lineinside of marriage. I'm going to respond to her first question in today's post. Caroline wrote, "My question is how far is too far outside of marriage to go with a boyfriend? ... I know a lot of Christian girls that think it is okay to do everything except having actual sex with your boyfriend. And I know a lot of girls that they will only kiss their boyfriends.... So as Christian women, where do we draw the line with boyfriends?" Simply put, Caroline wants to know "How far is too far?" It's an important question. Here's what we wrote about it in The Bare Facts:

Have you ever thought purity would be a lot easier to attain if the Bible clearly said, "Here is exactly how far you can go physically and remain pure"? Does it seem that if God drew a hard line in the sand, it would make it easier for you to know how to behave? Hard and fast rules may seem like a good idea when it comes to physical activity, but I'm not convinced they would solve our temptation issues. If God drew an exact line dividing acceptable physical contact from the unacceptable, everyone would race right to that line and then push it "just a little bit" farther. It is our human nature to sin and to push back against authority. If the Bible gave us a bunch of rules, many would find a way around those rules. In His wisdom, God didn't just list a bunch of rules for physical behavior before marriage in His Word. He did something better by giving us principles in His Word that we can apply to our relationships. Consider these principles as checkpoints on the path to purity. If your values and the level of your physical activity in your dating relationships allow you to stick to these principles, you have strong boundaries in place. If, on the other hand, the level of physical contact in your relationship violates even one of these principles, pull back and reevaluate your boundaries.

Here's a crash course in the three principles we presented in the book. The "Whatever" Principle Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." The question you should be asking is not, "How far can we go without getting into trouble?" but, "What can we do to think about things that are pure and honorable?" The "No Hinting" Principle Ephesians 5:3 says, "But among you there must be not even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." God's Word doesn't suggest that we get as close to the line of sexual sin as possible. Quite the opposite: this passage tells us not to even hint at sexual sin. The Principle of the "Unlit Fire" If purity is your goal, make a commitment never to cause another person to want to go all the way. At all times consider whether your actions might cause your partner to want to become more physically involved. That includes what you see on dates (movies, videos, TV shows), what you do when you're together, how you relate to each other, how you touch ... everything you do! Don't ignite a fire in your boyfriend with the way that you behave. All three of these principles have a common theme. Instead of thinking, "How far can I go?", the Bible teaches us to ask, "How much can I save for my future spouse and preserve in order to experience God's best?"

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.