2005-03-08 - How Far is too Far
Marriage & Sexuality, Part 4
Jude 21, "Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."
I think we have hit on this topic before, but I got a very wise e-mail from a young woman, somewhere in the world, who asked me the great question, "How far is too far?" She admitted that she and her boyfriend struggled in this area, but they were both still virgins. I think it is an awesome question, and I already answered her, but this is a question many need to deal with. This is true even for those who are married, because we all interact with people, and we need to be able to give a response to those we know, our children. And if we are single, we have to answer this question for ourselves. I would like to give some guidance here, but I know what I say will be controversial to some. I am sorry, but I can only say I am doing my best.
I think everyone who has been in a relationship has struggled with the question of "How far is too far?" In fact, I think that anyone who can't admit that is lying. We all know that fornication is out; God's Holy Word is clear on that (1 Corinthians 6:9). But, the question remains for us, how far, outside the context of marriage, is too far to go physically? The first response I will give is going to make some of you think I am being too liberal and "open-minded," but please read on while I clarify. I think each couple needs to sit down and do a DTR (Define The Relationship). This means letting the other know where your limits are. And here is the most important thing when it comes to limits:
Anything that bothers your conscience is too far. Knowing that fornication is sin and is clearly out, if your conscience bothers you, you need to step back and make sure that what you are doing is honoring to God, building the household of faith, and in the best interests (eternally and spiritually) of your significant other. If your actions are causing your conscience to bother you, can you say you are being Christlike, are you being a faithful witness to the faith you profess to hold? These are the kinds of questions we must ask.
Personally, I think the standard should be that anything that is considered foreplay is out. Foreplay is designed to lead to sex, and since sex is out when you are not married, then it just seems logical that anything that is designed to lead to sex should be out also. I know this is a very difficult line to hold, especially in a long-term close relationship. But holding this line will only enhance trust for the future, for both parties involved. If your partner was willing to wait until marriage because marriage was that significant a commitment to them, then they are surely less likely to be willing to cheat during the marriage. Waiting can only enhance trust in your relationship during the future years.
Lastly, I want to make sure I have not beaten up those who have crossed the "line." The forgiveness of Christ is an awesome truth. It is for whomsoever. If you feel you have crossed the line in this area of your life, or any area of your life, you can turn to Christ in faith, seeking forgiveness - and the promise of our Lord is that you will be forgiven. So the truth here, from Scripture, is that to turn to Christ is to experience forgiveness from our transgressions. We need not beat ourselves up for past sins. Scripture says that God's mercies are new every morning, and while I don't want to argue with the Holy Word of God, I think it is more true that the mercies of the Lord are new every moment. Let us all rest in the forgiveness offered to us in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,