How Far Is Too Far in Christian Dating?

how far is too far
1 Corinthians 7:1-10

When it comes to Christian dating, how far is too far? What are you aloud to do in dating? Is kissing okay? What about spooning?

The Bible does not give specifics when it comes to sexual experiences. However, the Bible does give general categories Christians are supposed to remain in when it comes to sexuality. I believe one of the most helpful Bible passages on sexual boundaries is found in 1 Corinthians 7:1-10. Although the Bible does not talk about “dating” as our modern society understands the word, the truths expressed here can easily be applied:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. . . . Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

. . .To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

How Far Is Too Far? The Two Big Sexual Categories in the Bible

By studying this Bible passage closely, you have all the information you need regarding sexual experiences in a Christian dating relationship. You basically have two categories:

  1. Sexual experiences away from your spouse are sin.
  2. Sexual experiences with your spouse are good.

Notice Paul says to the married that they are to “come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” This means that if the husband or wife had any sexual experience when they are not together, this is falling to Satan’s temptation. To me this is clear evidence that both masturbation by yourself and sexual experiences done with someone other than your spouse are both sin because both are done away from your spouse.

To the unmarried this same principle applies. Any sexual experience without a spouse is sin. Even if you are going to marry that person you are dating, he or she is not your spouse yet; therefore any sexual activity is not Christ honoring. Paul doesn’t’ say, “Well if you burn with passion, just put some limits on it and express your sexual desires a little bit since you are just dating.” Paul says if you can’t control your sexual passions, it’s time to get married, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry” (1 Corinthians 7:9).

All Sexual Activity Is for Marriage, But Don’t Get Married to Have Sex

This does not mean if you have sexual desires for someone you are dating you should for sure get married. Marriage is not the only biblical solution to not going too far. Getting married because you want to have sex is crazy. Some Christians actually do that. Don’t do that.

1 Corinthians 7:9 explains, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” So the end goal in this verse for Christians is to not burn with passion. That’s not the end goal of marriage. That’s just the context for this Bible verse.

To accomplish this goal, you can have self-control, get married, or breakup. Paul is obviously stating that for some, they can have sexual passions and not act on them which is called “self-control.” The option that is not biblically available is to remain unmarried but to continue failing to sexual sin over and over again.

The Christian dating relationship itself should determine your course of action in the pursuit to not go too far. Don’t make relationship decisions based upon the desire to have sex. If you both are ready for marriage, get married. If you are not ready to marry this person but you have sexual desires for him or her, exercise self-control.

Here’s the part people don’t like. If you are not ready for marriage and you don’t have enough self-control to stop the sexual sin, then you must breakup. To remain unmarried while living in sexual sin is not God’s will for you.

I know this advice sounds extreme to some, but if you want to submit to what God has said in the Bible and not go too far as a Christian single, I’m not sure how you can interpret 1 Corinthians 7:1-10 any differently.

So How Far Is Too Far in a Christian Dating Relationship?

If you indulge in sexual activity as a Christian single, you are living outside the lines of the two categories given to us in Scripture regarding our sexuality. Again, anything with your wife or husband is good. Anything done without your wife or husband is not good.

That’s it. We don’t need a list of every type of sexual act and whether or not it is permissible in a dating relationship. All you need to ask yourself is, “Is this a sexual experience? And is this person my spouse?”

the one

So how far is to far as a Christian single? Here’s the clearest biblical answer I can give: If you are unmarried, any sexual experience is off limits.

You Need to Define What a “Sexual Experience” Is

But what is a “sexual experience?” This is where the grey area comes in and this is where I defer to you so you can make your own choices here.

I don’t want to give a list because the Bible doesn’t give a list. The Bible doesn’t give a list of sexual stuff you can do in dating because you are not supposed to do anything sexual in dating. So again, the real trick is to properly label what is “sexual” in nature.

Here are some of my thoughts. This is not me relying on Bible verses. Rather, I just want to offer some practical wisdom here.

Attraction is not a sin. Arousal is not a sin. Emotional connection is not a sin. Sexual activity is a sin.

What About Kissing in a Christian Dating Relationship?

As far as physical actions like hugging and kissing, I leave that to you to decide. Is a kiss sexual or is it a healthy emotional expression? Is spooning on the couch sexual or is it a healthy act of intimacy? Personally I believe the differences are obvious when a kiss is sexual or a sign of healthy affection.

A gentle kiss on the lips would probably be labeled by most as a sign of affection rather than a sexual act. Others might feel any type of kissing is off limits. I think we can all agree that tongue wrestling, moving-climax type of kissing, or make-out type of kissing is sexual. But overall, I leave “kissing” open for you to debate as I want to stay away from rules and laws in this conversation about Christian singles going too far.

I’d personally recommend you stay away from spooning, private cuddling, and things you’d only do alone; but if you feel otherwise I’m not going to say you are wrong. My main point is that you need to honestly decide what a “sexual experience” is for you versus an emotional experience or an expression of affection.

But let’s not make this topic harder than it needs to be. Most stuff is pretty obvious one way or the other. I think a good guiding principle is that any touching of an area which is usually covered by clothing when you are in public should not be touched by another in private unless it’s your spouse.  We wear clothes for a reason. We cover up the sexual parts of our bodies. If you are touching an area on someone that is usually covered up, I’m not sure how that act is not sexual.

But again, I don’t want to make laws for people which aren’t in the Bible. I’m just trying to give some guiding principles that can help you define what is “sexual” and what is just a sign of affection so you can avoid going too far as Christian single.

To Answer, “How Far Is Too Far For Christian Dating?” Ask Yourself, “Would I Be Embarrassed or Ashamed?”

Another good principle which I think can help you know whether or not something is appropriate for a Christian dating relationship is understanding the difference between embarrassment and being ashamed.

If you are just embarrassed, it’s probably okay. If you are ashamed, it’s probably not okay. I’m not saying you should just live by your feelings, but we usually know what’s right and wrong if we are being totally honest with ourselves.

If someone walks in on you baby-talking to each other, “No, no, you are my shnookems . . . stop . . . no you are, no you are, hahaha,” you better be embarrassed (I’d be embarrassed for you . . .  kidding, kidding, but not really). But there should be no need to be ashamed about something like this. You might be embarrassed if someone walks in on the two of you having an emotional moment. But I think you will only feel ashamed if it was a sexual moment.

The difference between embarrassment and shame is that one is rooted in social norms and the other is rooted in moral norms. You will feel ashamed when you get busted doing something you know you should not be doing because it is immoral. The shame should not last when you repent to Jesus (1 John 1:9). But a healthy conviction is a sign that sin took place and you have gone too far.

If you wouldn’t do it in front of your parents, your pastor, or your younger sibling, don’t do it when you are alone. If you would just be embarrassed if you were caught by them, well that’s one thing. Have fun and be stupid. That’s all a part of the healthy dating process. But if you would be ashamed if your actions were brought into the light, repent and sin no more.

How Far Is Too Far for Christian Singles in Dating Relationships?

So how far is too far in a Christian dating relationship? I don’t know specifically. If what you are doing is making you ask that question, it’s probably too far. Your goal should not be, “How close can we get to the line without crossing it.”

A better questions than “How far is too far?” is “How pure can we be?”

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Mark Ballenger is the writing ministry of Mark Ballenger. To reach Mark, send him an email anytime:

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