Jan 18, Scott Croft If all sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin, is it also a sin to kiss outside of marriage? Before continuing with this article, please review the preamble included at the beginning of Scott's first article in this series, " Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating" that "biblical dating assumes no physical intimacy" outside of marriage.
Many wanted to know, did I really mean no physical intimacy? What about showing affection? Isn't it sex outside of marriage that Scripture explicitly prohibits? How can you say definitively that other things are wrong? What if we're in a committed relationship? Shouldn't our physical relationship "progress" as other aspects of our relationship deepen? In this day and age, how far is really too far? I understand most physical stuff is wrong, but what about just kissing?
With respect to pre-marital, romantically oriented kissing, we're clearly talking about an area about which reasonable believers can and do disagree. Let me lay out what I view to be applicable biblical principles and passages on this topic. I'll start by putting my position right on the line: I believe the Bible to teach that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sin, and all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity.
In my view, this includes premarital kissing. As the questions above indicate, however, many single Christians have questions about whether premarital physical activity at some level beyond kissing is OK. We need to address the whole spectrum "just kissing" included. Let me offer a caveat or two at the outset. First, the fact that "romantically oriented" is in italics above is important. I am obviously not saying that hugs and kisses of affection or greeting to relatives and the like are out of bounds.
Another important point has to do with culture. In some cultures, kisses of greeting — between members of the same sex or of the opposite sex — as well as hand-holding and other forms of physical expression during normal, non-romantic social intercourse, are more common.
You might even be able to talk me into the notion that brief, "non-leaning-in" hugs of greeting, sympathy, etc. We all know what we're talking about here, and these are not the things I mean to address in this column.
The game changes when two people are romantically involved or "semi-involved" a fascinating phrase I recently heard. Before you start throwing things at your computer, let's go to Scripture. It is certainly true that no passage of Scripture says — in so many words, at least — "thou shalt not kiss before marriage. The argument becomes clearer when we look at some of what the Bible has to say about 1 sex, 2 our relationships with other believers and 3 sexual immorality itself.
The "S" Word As a good initial principle here, we should affirm that sex itself and sexual activity in general is not inherently negative or sinful. On the contrary, in the proper context, it is a kind and good gift of God. Michael Lawrence and other able Boundless authors have written before about the wonderful gift of sex, so I won't belabor the point except to repeat that the Scripture passages on sex, taken together, make very clear that God instituted sex within marriage for purposes of procreation, pleasure, intimacy, holiness and — ultimately — for His glory.
God instituted sex within marriage as part of His design of the family Genesis 1: In 1 Corinthians 7: If you have any doubts about God's intention to give us sex as a wonderful, pleasurable gift, Song of Songs should put them to rest. In Song of Songs, God has given us a holy and beautiful picture of a marital sexual relationship, and everyone seems to be having an excellent time.
Even there, however, God is clear that sex is uniquely for marriage: The orthodox interpretation of the book suggests both that an actual sexual relationship is part of what the narrative relays and a context at the time of the sexual part of the relationship of marriage. Brothers and Sisters in Christ So marriage is a unique relationship, and the good gift of sex is not only allowed but commanded within that relationship.
Still, the overwhelming majority of believers will only share that relationship with one person in their entire lives. How are we to relate to everyone else especially believers , and how does that question inform the topic of premarital sexual activity? The simple answer is that every believer to whom I am not married is my brother or sister in Christ, and I am to act accordingly.
There are too many passages to mention in this space that communicate God's command to live for God's glory and to "love" one another — defined as putting the spiritual good of others above our own desires. We are to do this in light of what God has done for us in Christ and in light of Christ's impending return. Just a few examples: Romans 12 , especially vv. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves. Love does no harm to its neighbor. More specifically, 1 Timothy 5: Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity emphasis mine.
This is a didactic teaching passage generally instructing us about how to relate to other "family members" among God's people. We should note this analogy with care. With the exception of husbands and wives, there is no sexual dimension to "familial" relationships. Also, look at that phrase about how younger women should be treated — with absolute purity. As a lawyer, I almost never see absolute statements. It's the strongest possible language Paul can employ.
The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to lead a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his holy spirit.
Some translations render the word "wrong" as "defraud. The argument might run thus: Of course I want to care for their spiritual good. I just think I can show genuine affection short of intercourse with someone I clearly care about and still obey those passages. Let's explore that idea. Let's say for the sake of argument that it is theoretically possible to engage in extramarital romantically oriented physical activity and obey the above biblical standards while doing it. Have you ever met that mark?
Think about the times you have engaged in any type of romantically oriented physical activity with someone not your spouse. It might have been last night or last week or last year or back in high school or college.
Would you describe whatever you did as "holy and honorable," or was it done to satisfy the "passionate lust" of you or your partner or both 1 Thessalonians 4: Were you honest with the person about making a commitment to him or her before the Lord, or did you defraud or deceive that person in some way?
Was your purpose for doing what you did to build that person up spiritually — to make that person "more holy" Ephesians 5: Do you believe that you and your partner "honor[ed] God with your bodies" in doing what you did 1 Corinthians 6: Whatever you did, did that interaction reflect "absolute purity" 1 Timothy 5: Was there "even a hint" of sexual immorality in what you did Ephesians 5: Whatever you did, as you now think about it, does it inspire a comfortable peace or an uncomfortable shudder to remember that Father, Son and Holy Spirit observed it all?
Do you believe God was glorified or grieved by what He saw? How'd your answers come out? I can tell you from literally hundreds of emails and personal conversations that the only people who really attempt to justify premarital sexual involvement with a few exceptions for "just kissing" are those who would like to engage in it in the future or who are currently engaging in it. I have never heard any believer, single or married, defend their extramarital physical relationships from a position of looking back on them.
Keep in mind that the idea of holy, God-glorifying sexuality is by no means an impossible standard once you figure marriage into the equation. While no person stops being a fallible, broken sinner just because he or she gets married, the context of marriage makes it possible — even normal and likely, in the case of two walking Christians — to answer well the questions I just posed.
Sex within a godly marriage is holy and honorable before God 1 Corinthians 7 , Song of Songs , Hebrews It is part of the process of building one another up spiritually in marriage and should be done to that end. It is also meant, among other things, for sexual pleasure. And marriage — including the sexual relationship within it — reflects the covenant and the joyful, loving, intimate relationship between the church and her Savior. Not to put too fine a point on it, good sex within a godly marriage actually reflects God's character and brings Him glory.
It meets the mark. The Problem with "How far can we go? A brief tour of Christian blogs and bookstores will provide several different answers to the question, attempting to compose lines and boundaries somewhere on the sexual continuum behind which singles must stay.
Some don't even draw lines beyond sexual intercourse, inviting singles to think it through and let their consciences guide them in the context of a committed relationship. I realize there's disagreement here. In my view, the problem with asking, "How far can we go?
What that question really asks is, "How close to the line sexual sin can I get without crossing it? The Greek word for "flee" in this passage is an exaggerated form of the word "repent" that means roughly to turn and run from something. I once played golf on a course in Florida that was home to many large alligators don't get distracted — my lack of judgment is not the point here.
Every hole had big blue and white signs on it that said I'm paraphrasing: It might mean "run in the other direction.