How can my boyfriend and I set better boundaries?

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How can my boyfriend and I set better boundaries?

Oct 04, 2001 |J. Budziszewski
Question

I need help. My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. He is a fairly new Christian, and I have been Lutheran all my life. I know the importance of waiting till I am married for sex. But I guess I didn't then. We have recently started having sex.

I want to stop and have told him this. He wants to also, or so I think. But now we have questions about how far is too far. I want to reclaim my virginity. I feel so guilty about everything. And I have been depressed and sad for the past two and a half months and anxious. He wants to talk to our pastor, but I am not comfortable with that. I would rather talk to someone I don't know as well, or someone that I won't have to face every week and more. I am scared for our relationship as we have been talking about marriage but know that it is at least three or four years away.

I am starting my second year of college; he is starting his first, and we go to different schools. There is so much more. My going away to school made me grow up a bit I think, and he didn't, being still in high school for that last year. I believe I love him, but part of me wonders if it wouldn't be better to do other things.

We want to know how far is too far. Even if your answer is just kissing. Please help me. I don't want to live this anguish anymore.

Answer

Way back in the Ask Theophilus column, "More Fallout: Premarital Sex," I wrote some words that may help you too.

Many young Christians assume that when they find themselves in situations which weaken their sexual self-control, they should just stay put and be tough. That's a huge mistake. Scripture doesn't tell us just to stay put in the face of temptation. It tells us to flee temptation. Avoiding it will require some changes in your relationship, because the first thing an unmarried man and woman need to do is stop spending their time together ALONE. Alone is what you do on your wedding night; that's why it's so cozy. So when you spend time together with your sweetheart, do it where others are present. When you date, go out with a group. When you pray, have others join you, because this is the most intimate time of all. Sounds odd, right? That's just because we're no longer used to it. It used to be called common sense.

I've written about the other part of common sense in other columns. Do you want to save sex for marriage? Then don't do anything that gets your motor running. God invented sexual arousal to prepare your bodies for sex; did you think it was for something else? And don't think "We'll do things that arouse us, but we won't cross that line." That's like turning on powerful rocket motors, but saying "Don't lift off." If sex is for marriage, sexual arousal must be too.

Let me add three more points. First, about whether to limit yourselves to "just kissing." What you mean, of course, is not a peck on the cheek for greeting or a light kiss goodnight; I'm sure you know that's all right. What you're asking about is drawn-out kissing which arouses. The most important thing is for you to stop thinking of arousal as recreation. The correct term for it is "foreplay." Does that answer that part of your question?

The second point is about how to stop doing something. You say, "We have recently started having sex. I want to stop, and have told him this. He wants to also, or so I think." What is this "I want to stop" business? You are deceiving yourself, my dear; the way one knows that one wants to stop is that one stops. Furthermore, abstinence is not something to be negotiated between you and your boyfriend — as though you can't stop unless he agrees. You need to do what God requires, whether your boyfriend is pleased about it or not. I can tell you this, though: Your boyfriend's reaction will tell you a lot about his true attitude toward you.

The third point arises from the second. You may be a person who has difficulty setting appropriate boundaries. Do you feel overwhelmed by the demands that people make upon you? If so, you might want to take a look at the book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries. It's about when and how to say YES and NO in order to be a good steward of the life that God has given you.

Grace and peace,
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS

Copyright 2001 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.

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