Premarital Sex: How Far is Too Far?

Although the target audience of Christian Nymphos is married Christian women, I want to take the time to speak to the unmarried women who might come across our blog to address the age old question: How far is too far?

If you have decided that you want to live with sexual integrity and are honestly seeking to understand want boundaries you need to establish, then I hope to help you by way of leading you through several things you’ll want to consider.

Let’s first remind ourselves that if we have submitted to the authority of Jesus, then we have His Spirit living in us to empower us to stand in self control. No temptation is too great that we can not give way to the Spirit of God in us to have victory over it. However, for us to know when we need to allow the work of God to help us with this, we need to understand what behaviors He desires us to establish.

So where do we draw the line? Is virginity only about whether or not your hymen is torn? Is any sexual behavior that leaves the hymen in tact OK? Is oral sex real sex? Should all genital contact be avoided, but fondling other private areas like breasts or rear ends is OK? What about kissing? Should all kissing be avoided? These are some of the questions you must know the answer to if you want to live a life that is pleasing to God.

To begin with, I believe that Jesus is much more concerned with purity than virginity. If your only goal is to keep your hymen in tact, not only are you setting yourself up for sexually transmitted infections, but you are also setting yourself up for sin. Thoughts turn to lust far sooner than the moment a penis is inserted into a vagina. The term “sexual immorality” in the Bible covers so many areas for a reason. Lust, premarital sex, adultery… though all of them may have unique consequences, all do a similar thing in our hearts. So we want to follow the command to flee sexual immorality which involves the idea of getting as far away from it as we can rather than seeing how close we can get.

In light of this, I will share some of the physical boundaries I established to keep myself from lusting after the guys I dated when I was single. You will need to evaluate who you are and develop your own set of guidelines based on what works for you

Boundary 1: If it isn’t seen in a bathing suit, it isn’t touched. This avoided all confusion about whether oral sex was OK or if it was OK for my boyfriend to fondle my breasts. Any act that would involve the parts that are normally covered by a bathing suit was most definitely something I had determined that I did not find to be appropriate for an unmarried person.

Boundary 2: If my physical behavior is something I will be embarrassed to tell my husband about some day, I won’t do it. I am happy to say that there are very few things that I look back on and wish I hadn’t done. More than pushing my boundaries, they were just not honoring to the people around me. (ie Heavy kissing with another friend in the room.)

Boundary 3: I will keep all kissing above the shoulders. I knew that kissing was something that I could do without lusting. That doesn’t mean I was free with my kisses, but I knew that if I was in a committed relationship that kissing was something I could choose to do and not be lusting as long as we kept all kisses above our shoulders.

When I started dating my husband we talked about what physical boundaries we would set and he wanted to refrain from kissing on the lips until we were engaged. (We knew early on that we would get married.) I didn’t feel that I needed to set that boundary, but he did so I honored that.

These are modest boundaries and so uncommon today, but I am still young. It really wasn’t that long ago that I was committed to this set of standards for myself. If your boundaries can be more generous without lusting or becoming overwhelmingly tempted to enter into more intimacy than you believe is right for an unmarried person then feel free to establish them as God leads you.

Just believe me when I tell you that oral sex, anal sex, breast sex, and penis in vagina sex are all sex, and it is my conviction that all of them are behaviors that are completely inappropriate outside of a committed marital relationship.

51 Comments

  1. We have been married over 25 years, have 10 children who are all seeking the Lord’s way. Two kids are married and VERY happy.

    Here’s the boundary I teach to my children…

    “Do not get physical at all before marriage. But if you do touch, kiss… only do whatever you would feel comfortable doing in front of your mother and me.”

    From reading the Bible I get the definite idea that two who are not married to each other have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    If you cannot keep your hands off each other, then marry sooner.

    And, of course, our children’s entire courtship is overseen by me. Young people need this kind of guidance.

  2. Wow!!!! That is exactly how we feel! We are just entering this stage, though. Our oldest (he’s 17) just came to us the other day saying he wanted to start “dating” this girl he likes. We told him that we were fine with that but that any “dating” was to be done around or with us. No alone time. You don’t have to spend time alone with someone to figure out if you want to marry them.

  3. I’ve been thinking about what you guys have said and I am not sure I agree. I think there are conversations that a dating couple should be able to have in privacy. Of course, if they are not using their alone time appropriately that is one thing, but I think it is good for them to learn how to establish boundaries without our direct influence.

    I love hearing different ideas from my own though so feel free to post yours…

  4. For us, we both have the premarital sex background. With each other and others. It is not that we will be hoarding over our son and they will never be able to talk without us, just that they will know that at any moment someone may walk in the room. And trust me they have plenty of conversations without us hearing….they talk ALL the time on the phone! And we have let them go places without us, but I need to know where and when they will be back! He knows I had him when I was his age and with all the other kids he knows what it takes because he helps alot. I am just trying to save him from my mistakes. He understands and agrees with us. My husband tends to get more overprotective than I do. I just keep telling him….we have done all we can. It is up to our son to make his own decisions. He is nothing like we were, I have to let him go and trust that God is watching over him and unless our son gives us a reason not to, we have to trust that he will remember what we have taught him!

  5. Don’t you think that this is a little draconian?

  6. Meribourne, who is your comment directed to?

  7. I meant about kids dating. I agree that there should be boundaries, but kids do need to have some degree of independence. I know that I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t have realized what my values are, if I hadn’t been able to make mistakes and to learn from them. I can’t agree with the idea of not having any alone time with a person. You do need to be alone with someone that you’re dating to figure out if you want to marry them… though, I also don’t plan on getting married until I’m well into my late 20s, early 30s.

  8. m- Do you plan on remaining celibate until your late 20’s or early 30’s, as well?

    Telling kids they need to have dating rules is what parents are SUPPOSED to do. If the kids go off on their own, sneak around or start a relationship away from the home (college), that’s on them. This attitude of engaging in immoral activities to discover that it was wrong or just an “experience” is a current philosophy portrayed by the MSM that reflects and encourages moral erosion of traditional values. Once a young person becomes an adult, they will be able to assert their independence and either stay righteous or chase the wind. Why exactly would an underage person need “alone time” to find out about their marriage proclivities?

  9. Those are great specific, objective boundaries. I tend to focus on principles instead of rules, to it is good to be reminded that in the heat of a moment, principles can get pretty fuzzy and distance. But here is the principle I teach, for any issue of morality including sex:

    If you are asking “What can I get by with”, you are sliding toward sin.” The question that keeps our way pure is “What pleases God.” If we make this question our guidepost then we will never fall.

  10. That’s a great principle!

    I think with sex it worked better for me to have a clear boundary (a rule so to speak) because it helped to have certainty about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t. As you say, it’s more easy to push the line of a principle in the heat of passion. When you are kissing a boyfriend or girlfriend and things are getting steamy, “What pleases God?” may not be at the forefront of a person’s mind. Having said that, if a “What pleases God?” attitude is one that you have incorporated as an ebb and flow of your being, it isn’t so hard….

  11. Cinnamon Sticks, I think the boundaries that you’ve laid out are good. I was just reading Every Man’s Battle and the authors bring out a good point about foreplay from Ezekiel 23. This is from the ESV “1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. 3 They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms [1] handled. 4 Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.” The word translated bosoms is the Hebrew for nipples. Obviously, even though they were technically virgins, the Lord was displeased with their behavior. Moreover, if you read further, you’ll see that they didn’t keep their virginity long after. The author parenthetically notes after bringing this verse to our attention that “If you’ve ever argued that God doesn’t address ‘petting’ in the Bible, let Ezekiel 23:3 server as a corrective to your thinking.”

    I agree wholeheartedly with your points, but having been made aware of an objective Biblical example, I wanted to bring this to your attention.

    For any brides or brides to be whose husbands or fiancés are struggling with sexual purity, I would recommend Every Man’s Battle.

  12. I struggle to come up with boundaries to tell to my sons when they’re old enough to date. I don’t think there’s a perfect method.

    Limiting touching only to what’s visible with a swimsuit is a good start, although many guys have a thing for legs. My devious self would no doubt try to start fingering up the leg until I get to the (imaginary) bikini line. Then I would trick myself by inching my fingers onwards and saying “Oh, she must have a thong.” I could get all the way to the labia majora this way and then by that time I doubt I would have the self control to pull back.

    Limiting it to head and neck kissing is probably the safest, but is this realistic? Heck, even the ear can be erotic. And many women have quite sensitive necks.

    As far as privacy, I am unsure about this. I know I’ve done quite a bit in semi-private situations…that hasn’t stopped me, but only made it somewhat more exciting.

    One thing I will be sure to tell the boys is that you can’t expect the girl to stop you. That was a mistake I made. I kept pushing the boundaries thinking she would be the one to say “stop”. I remember thinking, “Wow, she’s letting me do this?!”

    I think I will tell my boys to try to limit it to light lip kissing. The other thing I wonder about is do I promote abstinence only or instead abstinence is the best but if you do have sex, use a condom.

    My parents never talked about this stuff, and I think that was a problem for me.

  13. I began working for a large ministry about five years ago. One of my responsibilities was being the purity director. My job entailed speaking to youth groups, at conferences and facilitating purity retreats. In the retreats, I briefly address oral sex. Many people do not equivicate it with sex, they instead, think it is foreplay or a way to “have fun” with out technically losing their virginity. My stance is this: It isn’t called oral friendship! It is called oral sex. If it isn’t sex, then why are STIs transmitted during the act? Sexual immorality always affects the person. Shame, humiliation and warping of a person’s character and self-image always follow. It is sad so many Christians feel it is a no-no to talk about sex. I believe the best tool we have to help our children to understand what God intended our sexuality for, is to live out our enjoyment in fornt of them. In saying this I don’t mean being crude or blatant with our intimacy. But I do believe we can act in a way that allows others to see the love, affection and pleasure we enjoy with our spouse. At the end of creation, God said that everything He made was “very good”. Sex was part of the very good. When God does something He does it right. When we enjoy His blessing inside the boundaries of marriage which He commands, we find joy and freedom.

  14. My fiancee and I will get married in 60 days.. I desire to be pure in every way before our wedding day. I want to know what i can and cannot do. So, I prayed and God led me to the following verses in the Bible.

    Ephesians 4:22-24

    22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

    1 Corinthians 6:18

    18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

    Romans 12:1-2

    1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    When we marry we must sanctify our marriage to make the most out of the gifts and blessings God has after salvation.

    This means no sex with another body and no thoughts of sex with any body or any thing (including hand masturbation). Is this possible? Yes.

    I believe we can be true virgins in every sense by the time we are married. A single person can be a virgin physically but if that person thinks about having sex even if imagined sex with a future spouse then that person has caused his or her spirit to become impure and has lost maintaining spiritual virginity… i have more in my mind but i need to go.. i hope to hear reactions to what virginity is and if it can be regained..

  15. It’s good that you have found a standard that is working for you.
    I applaud your stance to remain pure until marriage.
    If you have read our blog you know that within certain guidelines we are not opposed to masturbation, but most certainly if you are, you should be free to live out your purity as God calls you to. He knows you well.

  16. I had a friends teenage son ask me about this once. He asked me what acts counted as sex. I basically told him that if he wouldn’t do it with another guy then it qualifies as sex.

  17. I need to clarify something about my above post. When I refer to oral sex as sexual immorality, I am referring to this act being outside the covenant of marriage.

  18. That can be a risky boundary, but I see your point.

    Having said that, I don’t believe that lingering kisses before marriage are sinful, but do believe it is wrong to do so with someone of the same sex.

    What do you all think about that?

  19. I probably should have mentioned that kissing was OK. It was actually in the context of a discussion about a former president.

    It was, admittedly, an unsubtle example, but then again teenage boys often aren’t great with subtlety when it comes to these issues (at least I wasn’t at that age).

    As for it being wrong with someone of the same sex all I can say is I wouldn’t go there myself. My sister is gay so I have some experience with this.

    I don’t always approve of some of the things she does but, as Jesus said, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    For certain, that isn’t me.

  20. I just found this site and am soooo glad! We have a teenage daughter (15) and a younger daughter. We have opened our home to all of our teens friends. Mostly we want her here with us, and we want to know the people in her life. We talk with these kids, pray for and with these kids and are as honest as we can be with them. We have learned alot about what they think. Our daughter was raised to believe sex outside of the confines of marraige is wrong. Most of her friends were raised to believe sex was just plain “bad.” Kindof the “just don’t do it” approach. It’s so sad to listen to these kids when they talk about what they’ve done, or what they are doing and how they feel ashamed and guilty, broken before they are ever grown. I have also recently discovered how many boys are turning to homosexual sex, just to experience some kind of sex. Of the ones we’ve talked to, none of them think they are “gay.” They simply want to experience sex without the risk of pregnancy. Of our daughter’s closest friends, the majority of them were raised in Christian homes, believe in God, believe the Word of God, and know what the bible says about sex before marraige. The majority of them are having unprotected sex. They have told me, “I know God doesn’t want me to do it. But, it’s not like He’s going to send me to hell for it.” They blatant mockery of God’s grace is heart breaking. We are praying for all of these kids, and that we will let our daughters know how amazing sex is, within the marraige God blesses you with.

  21. i was very driven by:

    “Rule 2: If my physical behavior is something I will be embarrassed to tell my husband about some day, I won’t do it. ”

    but i guess not so much telling my future husband, so much as knowing myself that i had done it before with another man.

  22. HOORAY tanstallion!!!!! / you go!!
    This is a subject I can get quite passionate about… Dh & I both lost our virginity before we were Christians. We both remained pure the way tanstallion described after we were Christians. Our time of dating was totally hands off, except one handshake when we met. ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS!!!
    I so agree that principles are he point, but that they can be made fuzzy when we are “in” the moment. No physical contact whatsoever kept things very simple for us. We have never wished that we had “relaxed” that. We will ask the same of our children, with the principle being what tanstallion said so well, along with the standard that “if you shouldn’t do it with someone else’s wife/husband, you shouldn’t do it with someone who isn’t yours.”

  23. I just wanted to say to all the singles, that I made the mistake of allowing a boyfriend to touch me. I have been married for 11years now and have the best DH. It has been hard in my marriage to not think about what went on so long ago. I do not lust over it, but once you allow more than kissing to happen it will stay with you for the rest of your life. I wish that I could take what I did back. God has helped me to block these images in my head, but Satan every so often will pull them back up for temptation. I advise you to stay pure. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT! You would regret your mistakes. Stay true to God and true to yourself!

  24. My DH and I were “active” before we got married to each other. He was previously married, and this is my first and only marriage. We truely wish that we would have been each others first and regret that we weren’t. We get over that fact, but wish that we had learned from each other. The hardest part that I have found is that I mentally compare myself with his ex. “Was she better? Did she experiment more?” and so on.

  25. hi

    i was just wondering.. what do you say to someone who has committed pre-marital sex? feels condemned and regretful because it is something that he/she will never get back. how can this person help themselves to let go of the feeling of stupidity/regret/condemnation?

    thanks!

  26. An article about forgiveness for past sexual sin will be published in the new year. Just know that although you can’t change the past, God can change how it effects you through his powerful work of forgiveness and grace. You can choose to live in regret for your past or focus on the work of God within you where He is making you like Jesus. The accuser of your soul would have you focused on what your did, but the Spirit of God says look at who your really are– a much loved child of God, regardless of your good or bad behavior.

  27. what worked (fairly) well for my parents was to kind of pound the abstinence only idea into my head… but I went to a public school where i was taught about different methods of birth control, about safe sex, etc… and by the time i went to college, I was on my own but knew how to be safe should the situation go there.

    Although in the end I made my own decisions and set my own moral boundaries (which for the most part i basically defined as nothing a swimsuit bottom should cover), i think it made enough of an impact that i was not about to go out and hook up with every guy i saw… I think it’s important for them to know how to handle whatever situation they end up in, because, let’s face it… everyone slips up from time to time. it’s better to make the best of a bad situation than to make it worse by them not knowing how to handle it like an adult. I think strict but educated guidance leads to a “everything in moderation” mindset at worst.

  28. Cinnamon Sticks this is awesome! I love your guidelines especially the one about body parts seen in a swim suit. I would add for the woman to remember, if you touch their thigh, they get high. Women have to remember the power of stroking a man’s thigh. It usually is more than they can take!

  29. I am confused. I realize that it is the right thing to do (being completely abstinent before marriage) but like most people I didn’t believe that until after I was married.

    My mother was very open about sex (I was raped at age 4 and had a lot of questions since) and she always emphasized waiting for marriage. So far only my brother is doing that.

    I was 18 in college and thought that I had it figured out when I “lost my virginity” (it was really out of defiance towards my rapist in a see-i-can-chose kinda way.) But I don’t feel sorry for myself for having sex before marriage because those catastrophic relationships led me to my relationship with God and then my husband.

    I wouldn’t want my children making that same mistake but I’d forgive them for it and try my best to make sure that they are safe (warning your daughters about pap smears seems pretty effective- again I held off until I was 18 and would’ve needed one anyway.)

    Anyway, my point is that it is easy to say “you shouldn’t do this or that” but that kind of thinking led to the landslide for me because I figured,” well, I’ve already done this (sinned) and I might as well shouldn’t stop now.” There has to be another way especially for those of us who didn’t become Christians until adulthood.

  30. I have a question to ask anyone who has good wisdom. My fiance and I have been engaged for almost a month and a half but things are getting heated up real fast. We both agree getting married soon is a good idea since outside of family issues we aren’t as patient as we would like to be. That being said I know there has been sexual sin in each of our lives prior to (and at least on my part during some) of our relationship. Ever since I was 11 i struggled with masturbation, not knowing what it was until i was already in college. During college i struggled with minor pornography but thats when God really called me out of this and I have been struggling ever since. Slightly before my fiance and I started dating I decided to stop everything. I got an accountability partner and really started doing great. One night while my fiance and i were dating I told him everything and he shared that he had struggled with stuff too.

    Until we were engaged I never had problems keeping sexually pure but now its like I’m getting married in 83 days and its on my mind more than it ever has been. On top of that my fiance has started getting more liberal on where his hands go. Following his lead I have explored areas of his body that I would have sworn never to experience till we were married. We havent done very much visual stimulation but a lot of touching. I really feel we are going to far but its really hard to not put ourselves in such positions since I live alone and I want us to mature sexually so that when we do get married I’m not too embarrased to proceed past my breaking point you know?

    So my question is how do I explain to him that we need to take a step back and what are some suggestions on what some physical boundaries should we set? Our wedding night still terrifies me slightly and i’m still way to embarrased to let him see me even in a bathing suit so I know I have a long way to go but in the area of sexual fullfilment i feel we go too far for just being engaged. Any suggestions???

  31. To begin with on a practical level I think you might need to avoid being alone in your home together. This wouldn’t be required for everyone, but in your case it seems like it might be since you are feeling overwhelmed by the temptation.

    There is lots of time for you to become sexually confident after you are married so don’t let your insecurities about your body concern you, but your insecurities won’t keep you from having sex or pushing your limits so be careful about resting too much on that to keep you from going too far.

    As a general boundary, my recommendation is to keep in mind that you shouldn’t be looking to one another for your sexual fulfillment right now. So not only does that mean avoiding intercourse, but also avoiding other ways of meeting each other’s sexual needs, through touching for example.

    If you are both committed to purity (even though you are struggling with temptation now), you should have the freedom to talk to him and share your concerns. Let him know that you need for him to be strong and to honor your future marriage bed. That would be a good starting place for a conversation with him.

  32. thanks I will talk with him today.

  33. I believe that there should be no kissing at all and very little physical contact until the right after the preacher says, “You may kiss the bride”. I feel like a kiss is the seal that hook two people together forever, and doing it before marriage is abusing such a sacred act. Do you believe that this is taking purity too far?

  34. I don’t think it’s taking it to far for you if you want to go that way, but it sounds like you think everyone should approach this matter in agreement and that would be taking it too far. Everyone is responsible to manage their own purity so I can not transfer a restriction like this to someone else. Further, scripture is clear that sex is what makes a couple one, not kissing.

  35. My husband and I divorced in 2008 and began seeing each other again after a year apart and he spent time getting to know his God and fighting a spiritual battle with his sex addiction. During the time we were apart, I read “Sex 180″ and it totally changed how I looked at and believed about relationships and sex. It was very important to me that we be joined together in a Godly marriage and practice purity so that we could grow together spiritually, emotionally, and mentally before physically. It was very difficult as we had experienced each other before and enjoyed each other as lovers for 10 years prior to our divorce. I found staying pure was a matter of not doing anything that I would be embarassed for God to see/know about. For us, we had to maintain kisses that could be open mouthed, but with no tongue– this turned out to be our favorite way to kiss and one that I feel draws us the closest as we actually end up breathing each other in- and it flet pure in my heart. Practicing purity is not for the faint of heart and should not be taken lightly or done in the spirit of “following the rules”- it was so much easier to practice it when I realized what I was doing was passing up chicken nuggets for prime rib- God’s gift of sex is meant to be cherished, special and regarded saved for one man in your life.

  36. premarital sex ruined my marriage. the combination of problems of my sins and my husbands sins weakened the marriage bond and it bent and is almost broken. this is my biggest regret in life. if weakened my relationship with god, and then in more ways that i can even go into now, ruined my marriage. it is not worth it. sex was amazing with my husband, but only my husband. i will never let my self loose that self control fruit of the spirit.
    please if you are engaged and reading this, please listen! don’t do it it is not worth it. any and all types of sexual contact! the pain i am going through in my one year separation has left me extremely depressed and suicidal. praying every day for god to take me to heaven and spare me the pain. this is all from pre-marital sex. please. i am being so honest and sincerer.
    thank for listening.

  37. I am feeling incredibly lost, and just reading these posts is helping me quite a bit. But, I would really like to see if someone can give me some sound, loving advice.
    My fiance and I have been engaged for a few months now and only have 90 or so days left til our wedding. We have always been physical… but have never had intercourse. We felt convicted in the beginning, but now that we are engaged its almost thoughtless. I am starting to want to lay down boundaries especially with some now really tough situations we have been in.
    He is 12 years older than I am. And has only had a few past serious girlfriends before me. we are both virgins, but 3 years ago is when he stopped looking at porn (about a year before we met.) I trust him that he doesn’t look at it any more.. and I know he has no intention whatsoever to look at it again, but with his history in that its killing me when I see a beautiful woman on TV or even at the grocery store. I know he loves women who are “porn star” material. And although I am a very young, fit, attractive woman. I know that there are many others out there. I have even looked at porn in the last few months just to see what the excitement was all about. He tells me that I am beautiful and that he will always be faithful, which I believe. But every time we are watching a movie, he tends to always pick the ones with the attractive women in them. (he has a very specific type.) the Jessica Beil, big breasted, too skinny, big lipped woman. And its always so obvious. He will say things like “oh thats hot.” when a woman is wearing a tight dress and stilettos. I tell him that it bothers me and he just says “I am just thinking about you in that outfit.” He also tells me when I tell him that his attraction to women is obvious and hurts me that “there will always be beautiful women, and he just admiring them just like he would a painting, or a sunset.” (from these blogs, apparently they all use that line.) Its hard for me because of his past pornography issue, but I don’t know how to handle it. I can’t even watch movies with attractive women anymore because I my confidence just flattens. He is always telling me that there is no lust that he has for any other women and that he only has eyes for me, and thats why he wants to marry me and not them. I am just so afraid that I am not good enough for him. I feel like this is more my fault than anything, but because of these insecurities its even harder for me to abstain from sexual acts with him, and every time I find myself acting more and more like a porn star. Which is not ok, since we aren’t married. He just is such a horny guy (he gets excited from me just sitting next to him… ) so how do I know he doesn’t think of women on the tv when he sees them? Am I crazy?

  38. Hi Sarah, your honesty and vulnerability in sharing this situation is to be commended. It takes courage to share with others issues that are so sensitive and obviously trigger some very negative thoughts and feelings for you.

    First, and foremost…you are not crazy. Trust the instincts God has given you to recognize a potential problem. Pray on these instincts and suspicions that God would lift any of them that are not rooted in truth. The instincts and suspicions that remain, remain for a reason and should not be ignored.

    Second, there is a “Battle of the Mind” men go through with visual images. It is how they are wired. Men- all of them (old, young, married, single, pastors, deacons, player’s)- struggle with looking at girls. On average, your average man has a sexual thought 60-90 times a day. So they may not have control over being a little more sexually minded, but they do have control over situations they put themselves in to trigger these thoughts, how they respond to them, and how they use them to manipulate or attempt to manipulate others.

    Third, if you are both Christians, pray and ask God to show you if your fiance is behaving in a Godly manner, not just towards you, but to other women. God created marriage to be holy and sacred, and when He calls us to marriage, He wants the same from us and for us to treat our future spouse the same- do you feel as though you are being treated in a holy and sacred manner?

    Sarah, my heart is for women who are in such situations because I have lived with a similar one myself and by God’s grace we haved moved to the other side of it. My husband is a recovering Sex Addict. When we were first dating 12 years ago, I knew he had had prostitutes before when he was younger, watched porn, masturbated, but he presented these behaviors in such a way that they fit into what society told me was “normal” and what every guy did. And from what I saw and heard, it did fit the “norm” of your average guy. It wasn’t until about 5 years later, after we were married for about 3yrs, that I found out what he shared was just the tip of the iceberg. He hadn’t just had a prostitue once or twice, he had spent thousands on them in the years before we had met; he didn’t just watch porn, he obsessed over it and compared our sex life to it; he didn’t just masturbate on a normal basis, he masturbated to the point of making himself sore (sometimes more than 5 times a day).

    Please do not ignore your instincts. Pay attention to them and act on them. Pray and ask God to show you what He would have you do with them. Ask a trusted prayer warrior to pray for you that God would give you wisdom and discernment in a personal matter and if you trust them, share what the matter is. In the meantime, go to http://www.sanon.org. See if there is information there that may be of some assistance. It is an organization for people whose loved one’s sexual behavior concerns them. From what you have written, you are concerned. And in love I say, you should be. God wants you marriage to be a Godly marriage- holy and sacred. He wants no less for you than what he designed marriage to be. Find a good bible based church and speak to someone there about God’s plan for marriage.

    Lastly, talk to your fiance. Be open, loving, merciful, and compassionate, and direct. If there is a legitmate issue going on with your fiance, the best thing you can do for him is to not be conducive to the problem. These issues thrive in secrets, darkness, and lies. Ask God to give you what you need to not feed into these things. Tell your fiance how you feel when he makes these comments and what you know God wants for you in your marriage and relationship with him. Do not say anything you are not willing to back up. It is important to be men and women of integrity.

    God has good things in store for each of you. Never will He leave you or forsake you. He has plans to prosper you. In order for us to receive these blessings, we have to be willing to go where He calls us and sometimes that is scary. But God will never call us to where He won’t be with us.

    You are in my prayers Sarah- hold on to who you are in Christ and who God created you to be. Do not stray from this and you will be just fine. :)

    In Christ,
    Sara

  39. Where in the Bible does it say that sex before marriage is a sin? That fondling before marriage is a sin? That oral sex before marriage is a sin?
    I’m happy to accept that sexual intercourse before marriage isn’t wise and so have chosen not to do so before I get married.
    But as for a sin – I can’t see anything in the Bible that says this. Especially about the other stuff. You don’t become one until intercourse in my view and the other stuff is intimacy.
    I think generally the debate rages around passages about “purity” but there’s nothing in the Bible that actually says anything about sex before marriage being wrong.

  40. The bible calls any act of sex outside of marriage fornication. If you look in the new testament in both Matthew 15, Mark 7 .. different versions of the bible call it fornication or sexual immorality. It is there. The bible talks about what comes from your heart. If your heart causes you to be sexually immoral, sexual immorality is a sin.

  41. When we engage ourselves in any physical intimacy, we know when we start but we might not have enough willpower to stop before it gets out of hands. For example, French kissing is an excellent prelude to a sexual relation as we are playing with our emotions. This activity helps me to get excited for lovemaking. So, I let you imagine what two youths, full of hormones, can do when they have deep and long kisses. As Christians, the Holy Ghost helps us to decide what is acceptable when we go on a date before marriage… The best way, not to have sex before marriage is not participating in passionate kissing or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body.

  42. I am in complete agreement with you. While the bible does speak of immorality it is up to us all to define that word for ourselves. Obviously marriage didn’t exist in religous terms in the time of Christ as Christianity would not begin to take root until decades after his death. During biblical times a marriage consisted of a husband owning his wife which I dare say many would find immoral today. Also important to note how many references there are to polygamy in the bible without any mention of immorality.

  43. “While the bible does speak of immorality it is up to us all to define that word for ourselves”? Incorrect, Susan; if each of us “defines” immorality for ourselves, we find ourselves in a relativistic morass that leads to…immorality. Be careful.

  44. In response to SusanAnthony (Sept. 2) and Lovehimlots (Sept. 3), Susan correctly states that “marriage didn’t exist in religious terms in the time of Christ” or “until decades after his death.” Marriage isn’t found “in religious terms” anywhere in the Bible, which baffles many Christians.

    The “religious” concept was marriage was added to church doctrine some 400 years after Christ by Jerome, a bachelor who translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). Where Paul writes concerning marriage that “This [marriage] is a great mystery (Greek musterion)” (Eph. 5:32), Jerome mistakenly uses the Latin Sacramentum. Yet the English mystery and the Greek musterion mean nearly the same thing. The Douay Bible of 1610 copied Jerome’s bad translation, and millions of Christians now believe that marriage is intended to be religious, since a sacrament is a religious exercise.

    But Jesus and the Bible plainly make it a family affair, instituted by God at creation.

    This has powerful implications for our understanding of marriage and sex in a day when so many adults live together with no marriage covenant.

    Jesus, in Matthew 19:4, bases His teaching on “the beginning.” That is, from the creation of Eve, when God “joined together” (Mt. 19:6) the first man and woman (Gen. 1:27; 2:24). Marriage, like the birth of a baby, is a creative act, rather than a “religious” act. No pastor, priest or rabbi was present at the first wedding, nor at any Bible wedding, except when they were there as guests (as was Jesus at the wedding at Cana, in John 2).

    The first Bible wedding that clearly lays out God’s ideal is the marriage of Rebekah to Isaac in Genesis 24. This, like all Bible weddings, was a family affair. It has two basic elements: A covenant, in which Rebekah, in the presence of her family and Isaac and Abraham’s representative, Eliezer, said, “I will go” to become Isaac’s wife (Gen. 24:58); and sex’ in which, about a month after the spoken covenant, Rebekah and Isaac spent the night in his dead mother’s tent (Gen 24:67).

    In every instance in the Bible where the sex took place before the covenant, it was considered an insult to God’s holy character, since sex is an integral part of marriage as a reflection of God’s relationship with humankind.

  45. I dare say I’ll get quite the backlash for this but here goes…

    My hubby-to-be and I are having sex and living together. My upbringing tells me I ought to be ashamed of myself; feeling like I’ve been married to my man for years already tells me otherwise. We feel that the wedding is mere formality at this point. We have also been lectured several times for our actions already, and oddly enough it’s always been by someone who had done the exact same thing. And regretted it. I find it hard to believe that EVERY person who has lived with/had sex with someone they were not (yet) married to regrets it. Statistical probability is against it.

    Maybe my view of engagement is just different but I think that if you’re engaged, you’re as good as married. As far as I can tell, it used to be that breaking off an engagement was almost as shameful as a divorce. I really don’t understand how someone declaring you man and wife makes a huge difference.

  46. chestnutmare,

    I was in a place really similar to you. When we got engaged, I felt ready to be married the next day. It wasn’t just giddy excitement; I was already that committed, and I just wanted it to be official, public, recognized. Some would say that if you want that so fast, you should just elope, but that wasn’t going to fly with his family. (Mine actually would have been fine with it—and it’s not because they were paying for the wedding, because they’re weren’t! My family is just more relaxed about things like that and wanted me to be happy above all else.) His family very much expected us to not be married before having a formal a ceremony with them present a few months later, which takes planning, which takes time. We set a date about 6 months after we got engaged.

    I never imagined I would be doing anything beyond kissing before marriage, but it was different when I met my husband. As we became more and more serious, it was seemed natural for us to explore each other’s bodies a bit and to use our bodies in new ways to express affection. Growing up, I wouldn’t have guessed the I would be ok letting someone get to 2nd base before I was married, but we were very in love and just felt like we needed a physical outlet for that love… so we were there about a month before we got engaged. Once we decided to get married, we started having oral sex (both ways), something I really, really never thought I would do, but we were feeling more married every day. About halfway through our engagement, we stopped feeling more and more married, though, and we just felt like we had arrived. We had made that commitment to each other in our hearts and felt it deepen over the last three months to the point that there just wasn’t any further for it to go. He told me that I was already his wife in his mine, and I agreed that he was already my husband. If only everyone around us would recognize it…

    I knew it was impractical for us to actually start having sex three months from our wedding date, however, because even though we felt we were married, nobody was seeing us that way, and we didn’t feel like having to reason with them. Maybe it wouldn’t have, but it felt it would cause problems with family and friends, and it just didn’t seem worth that risk. My husband was sleeping over 3-4 nights a week at this point, though, as I was in the process of setting up our new place, and our new queen bed was sort of irresistible.

    Then about two months before our wedding, we were talking about things, and it became obvious that the idea of having sex for the first time on our wedding night was really not appealing to me because of the pain factor. I really wanted to be stretched out before then because it was going to be a stressful day already, and I just wanted to be happy and together that day, not disappointed that sex was going to hurt during our whole honeymoon. We decided the best thing was to begin slowly trying penetration so that my hymen would break sometime before then. We didn’t continue with any thrusting, and nobody got off. After a few weeks, I had bleed on a couple occasions, my hymen seemed mostly destroyed, and I was beginning to finally have less pain with penetration. It may have been a really weird way to do things, but it made me feel a thousand times better about things. After how much it hurt and how many days poking at me it took to break my hymen all the way and how many days it took to heal, I was really glad we had done this ahead of time instead of on our wedding night.

    Then finally, when we were a month away from our wedding—a month which was going to be filled with travel, and hence, my husband had just finished moving his stuff in so we could stop paying rent two places—we had a night on which we finally decided that, you know, we had been thinking of ourselves as married for a long while, and this whole “when does marriage start” thing really was subjective. I knew enough about the history of marriage to know, as you (chestnutmare) mentioned, that betrothal used to be much more of a commitment than engagement typically is today, and in some cultures it was EXPECTED that you would be having sex—and get pregnant—before the actual wedding. So when marriage “starts” (at the ceremony? before?) is obviously subjective.

    I was also thinking a lot about church/state issues and how I would consider a couple without a state marriage license to be married if they had a ceremony, and I would consider a couple without a church ceremony to be married if they had a state license… I decided the common denominator here was a real commitment, an intention to be married, thinking of themselves as such, and presenting themselves as married to others. These were all things we had, except the last. Presenting ourselves as married to others is something we wished we could have done for months, but we were having to wait until the ceremony to please his family because they didn’t want us to elope beforehand. We decided that at one month away, we were close enough to being able to present ourselves as a married couple—and we obviously wanted to ASAP. We decided to that it didn’t matter what his family said or others around us said—even if they wouldn’t recognize it yet, and even if they would be super-pissed if we got a marriage license before the wedding (which meant we were waiting to get one), we knew we had already been married for some time, and we decided it was time to consummate our marriage at last. In this way, I would say that by most people’s definitions, we had “pre-marital” sex, but in our minds, we may have had pre-ceremony sex, but it was not by any means pre-marital.

    Long reply… all this to say, I understand where you’re coming from and I approached things similarly, and I don’t regret it.

    HOWEVER, I would like to add the caveat that I recently had a friend get married who started having sex about three months before she was engaged and a full nine months before the wedding ended up happening. This might have been fine for somebody else, but I didn’t feel like it was right for her. She had a lot of questions about whether or not she wanted to follow through and get married for the majority of this time, and she also treated sex as something they shouldn’t be doing (but were anyway) because they weren’t married. It’s hard to explain it in just a few sentences, but she was nowhere near as committed as we were during our engagement. She wasn’t, for all intents and purposes, already married. She was still trying to figure out if she was going to have the wedding, and she was having trouble making that psychological transition to being locked in for life. In my opinion, this is a different situation. I know some would say that I am just favoring myself, but I just felt this was entirely different than what we did. We weren’t having sex one day and wondering about whether or not to get married the next. We already would have felt we were getting a divorce if we had split things off after a certain point. It would have felt very wrong to us without a just cause (abuse, adultery, etc.). It didn’t matter that others didn’t recognize our marriage; we recognized it and believed God recognized it. And I guess I feel that is the difference between what I feel we did vs. having truly “pre-marital” sex.

    Of course, according to how I’m making all of these ethical judgments, this leaves a lot of this up to one’s own conscience. It is inevitably subjective—How committed are you? Do you think of yourself as married already? These aren’t questions someone else can answer, so it does leave room for someone to not really be “married” (as I would define it) and yet excuse themselves having sex… but I’m not particularly afraid of people taking advantage of that. I’m more interested, I think, in encouraging people to start talking about marriage and the process of “becoming married” differently. I think that commitment being the foundation and the ceremony being a celebration of that commitment—rather than the ceremony being THE focal point on which everything hangs, so much so that some people don’t even pay much attention to their actual relationship—would be a positive start.

    Er… I should stop blathering on… But chestnutmare, I wanted to encourage you to be careful to be honest with yourself about where you really are in your relationship, but if you really are there, if you really feel there is no denying that you ARE married, then I think that there is nothing wrong with embracing that. Of course, if everyone else is upset with you, perhaps you could go get your legal certificate now? If your family protests your getting legally married before the ceremony, then I feel like THEY are the ones with a problem because they are not recognizing your desire to be publicly recognized as married.

    And since I spent so long telling my story/thoughts on this, I’d also really love to hear what has been significant to you in this process.

  47. I believe we are meant to wait until we are married, however I would say that if you are certain that God means you to be together keep the engagement short!

    I have a wonderful husband, who I met at quite a young age. I was only 15 at the time (and we were both relatively new Christians at the time). I knew almost instantly he would be the man I would marry. It was a 4 1/2 year courtship.

    If you’re able to remember back when you were a teenager, the raging hormones and the challenge that was…well add that to a long engagement and at the time it felt tortuously long. I would not advise any Christian to consider a long engagement after going through one, I would have chosen to be married quicker if my family situation had allowed it..although by today’s standards this is very young!

    It was not encouraging to me either that most of our Christian friends who were couples followed everything *except* the pre-marital sex teachings. People often thought it was *sweet* or said *awww….* when we told them that we were waiting.

    What I can say is that after all of that, we had a magical wedding and the first time was utterly incredible, beautiful, amazing and everything I had ever dreamed…well actually better than I’d dreamed ever. I am likely more ‘liberal’ of a Christian woman in my views as I did not feel that masturbation was wrong. I believe that is one reason why my first time was so wonderful. It was not painful at all, as I’d made sure that I had stretched out things enough so that it would not be. The level of intimacy we have in our marriage is wonderful, and I’m certain the amount of time we had to create a strong foundation before we were married helped.

    I am not going to judge anyone on what they did/did not do. I think that is all between you and God. I can say that I do not regret anything about our courtship. We’re both each others one and only everything! Though we did kiss before we were married. Honestly, for five years holding hands would have been too little for me as it was well within our comfort level. I believe that we had a wonderful foundation for our marriage and looking back (20+ years and a big family later) I have no regrets.

  48. The Bible is a tremendous gift God has given us, which is His word, which gives us moral absolutes for us to live by. We as human beings tend to want to see things our own way, but that way usually leads to death when it’s not based on the word of God (Prov.14:12, 16:25). We are clearly commanded NOT to participate in sex before marriage, also known as fornication (Acts 15:20, 29, 1 Cor. 18-20, Eph. 5:3, 1 Thes. 4:3-7) and it is repeated, unrepentant sin that will keep us out of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-21). There are others (young people, new or weaker believers) who are watching the spiritual walk of us older christians as examples (a young woman who is not a christian told me she was watching my life).
    When we do things that are contrary to scripture, regardless of how we may try to justify ourselves, we cause them to second guess themselves and fall into sin, and we are then held accountable for their sin (Matt. 18:6-9, Mark 9:42-43, Luke 17:1-3). We are not to do anything that would cause a weaker believer to fall into sin (Romans 14:15-21). This is why we are to abstain (stay away from) the appearance (what looks like) evil. “Living in sin” and having sex outside of marriage is an appearance of evil. Clearly, sex before marriage is not only sin but against God and His clear instruction, and to even suggest otherwise may shipwreck the faith of others, something we as believers do not want to do. So anyone reading this post, please take head to what God has to say about how to conduct your life in ways that are pleasing to Him.

  49. Thank you for this post. I was molested by my brother from the age of three til ten (7yrs or so)… When i was about 6 or 7 i realized what was going on was wrong and was gonna talk to my mom or dad but just before i could my brother threatened to kill me in my sleep if i ever told anyone. Seeing that he was into martial arts and collected knives and swords(&being so young) i was scared and beleived him. I hung onto my virginty til 18, then was raped for my first time. Again scared i didnt tell anyone until just recently(about 6 years later). I had felt like “my virginty is gone so sex doeant matter anymore“… So i had sex with a few more guys whom i was dating… And a one night stand… I now think back and would have done so many things different… BUT i dont think i would have accepted Christ in my heart had i not done all that. I know now my sexuality is not a bad thing and my fiance loving me properly sexually is helping heal all my past. Thanks for your words and insight. Very helpful. God bless.

  50. I am struggling with this very matter… We are engaged… Can you explain more of why or hoe it can be a problem. I dont understand. I would really appreciate it thank you.

  51. in my case what helped the most when my husband and i were engaged was to read and talk about it (books like sheet music and other christian-based marital books). it got thoughts expressed and brought us closer in our relationship, without having sex, and even prepared us for our expectations about our sex life when we got married. my advice would be talk talk talk :)


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