This piece comes by numerous confidential requests. Numerous. You are not alone.
We live in a sexually permissive age. Your parents grew up in a sexually permissive age. The gospel was preached throughout the known world in a sexually permissive age. For all people, of all time, temptations are pretty much the same. The difficultly in our current, media-driven world, is for Christians to know what is, and is not, acceptable behavior between unmarried people. Let’s start by stating some obvious, if uncomfortable, truths.
It Ain’t About Pregnancy
I have lost count of how many times young people will insist they are virgins because they did not engage in sexual conduct that could result in pregnancy. You can do a lot of sexually pleasurable things without the risk of conception. Meeting the biological definition of virginity does not mean you have never engaged in sexual immorality. Be honest with yourself and with God. Then try being honest with your peers. Insisting you are pure as the driven snow because pregnancy was not possible requires either extraordinary self-deception or a level of naivete that is almost impossible to believe is sincere.
Where’s the Line?
There is a simple question to ask and answer: “Would we do this in public?”
If the answer is ‘yes’ you can be pretty sure you are staying safe. You can kiss, hug, hold hands, embrace and do many things in public that will not prove an irresistible temptation. If, however, the answer to, “Can we do this in public?”, is ‘no’, then you can be quite certain you’re playing with fire. No need to pray about whether or not it is sin. If you can’t do something walking around in the park while families play nearby it is best to save it until after the ring. If you are not comfortable with your future spouse imagining you in that situation, don’t go there.
Rather than trying to figure out the acceptable parameters in the midst of passionate interaction, determine healthy boundaries before you are in a situation that requires you draw the line. If you are feeling tempted and tired, go home. Go home alone and send your beloved back to their place, alone, or with an irritatingly present roommate. Don’t wait until you are exhausted and your judgment is compromised before you decide to call it a night.
What to Do if You Went Too Far
You are defined by the love of God as seen in the face of Jesus Christ, not by your biggest mistakes. If you went too far, ask forgiveness and start afresh. Agree with your significant other that you can’t play with fire and expect to be without scars. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is not OK with that, break up. You might feel you can’t live without them but if the other person loves you and loves the Lord they will respect limits that keep you both safe.
Remember that this is a life-long grace walk. God’s grace brought you this far. God’s grace will keep you. Get moving in the right direction and don’t look back.