How can my boyfriend and I set some physical boundaries?

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How can my boyfriend and I set some physical boundaries?

Aug 29, 2011 |John Thomas
Question

I'm currently in a relationship with a guy who is a Christian, and we're in a forward-moving relationship. We've discussed sexual temptation and how we want this to be a God-honoring relationship. I shared a few points from Joshua Harris' book Boy Meets Girl, and I requested that I want to save my kiss for marriage only. He respects that.

What I'm worried about is our physical relationship and our sexual drive. We've hugged for three minutes, kissed on the cheek or side of my lips, held hands sometimes, stroking, and I realized this makes me very nervous and excited. Sometimes lust takes over my mind (I'm not sure about him), but I quickly pray for God's mercy and thank God that so far I've fled from it.

I'm really scared because we both love each other very much, and I don't want to make a wrong move. Can you give me some suggestions how we can love each other so much but also help each other not be sexually tempted? How can I discuss this healthily and openly with him so that both of us won't get tempted after the discussion?

Answer

You have set some very good goals about purity in your relationship, but your other choices are undermining those goals and will likely cause you to fail. Let me explain.

Saying that you want to save your first kiss for marriage is awesome, but kissing on the cheek or the side of your lips — as if that is not kissing — is not going to help you accomplish that goal. Having your bodies against one another, even though clothed, for extended time while struggling with lustful thoughts and becoming nervous and excited will not help you accomplish your goals of sexual purity.

Sexual purity starts in the heart and grows out from there. If it is not yet in the heart, but is still in that long journey from head to heart, then you must have strong, fortified boundaries to protect you while you nurture purity of heart.

Scripture tells us how temptation works. James 1:14-15 says, “We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead” (CEV).

So, yes, you should be very concerned about where you two are headed. Your desires are about to drag you off and trap you. From what I can tell, not only are you not nurturing purity, rather, you are feeding lust. Don’t expect purity to win that fight.

You need more than the goal of purity; you need a plan for it.

First, you must establish some better boundaries than the ones you’ve set. This past summer my wife shared with some young women a list of very practical things to help in their pursuit of purity. The list originated with Nancy Leigh DeMoss of “Revive our Hearts,” and is based on Ephesians 5:3, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Some of those things were:

  • Practice discretion with your eyes, dress, speech and behavior. Avoid conversation, eye contact and prayer of an intimate nature.
  • Learn to be modest, rather than enticing men and causing them to lust.
  • Do not indulge in mental fantasies.
  • Do not act bold and flirtatious.
  • Abstain from physical contact that could stimulate illegitimate sexual desires.
  • Meditate on and practice Philippians 4:8 in your entertainment choices: “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.”
  • Be willing to do battle when tempted.
  • Be accountable.

My wife had the girls personalize this list by challenging them to make an individual contract that included each of these and others they came up with on their own, by turning each of these into a “With God’s help, I will” or “I will not” statement and then signing the bottom.

At a minimum, you and your friend need to take immediate action on some practical boundaries like these, both individually and as a couple. You need the brakes put on in a big way, which might even mean putting this relationship on pause for a season while you each nurture purity of heart through discipleship and prayer.

As for discussing it with one another, I would simply ask an older married adult or couple — a leader in your church or a mature Christian — to be with you and lead the conversation for you as you talk about where you go from here. That could continue on a regular basis so you have accountability, and it’s a healthy way to talk about it with your friend.

Which brings me to my closing piece of advice. Sexual desire is normal, good, God-designed and God-ordained. But God makes it clear that the context matters, and that context is one person of the opposite sex, for life, in marriage, and growing out of a love for God and His glory in our lives.

You both need to spend some time doing whatever it takes to not just hope for purity, but actually experience purity in heart transformation. That will require discipleship, lots of prayer, accountability and meditating on God’s Word. You can be assured that it will happen, but only if you pursue it with your whole heart. Don’t be foolish; make the difficult changes you need to make now and enjoy the great fruit that will come from good choices in the not too distant future.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2011 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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