Hello, Sweet Anon. I really and truly appreciate your question. I would like to clarify, however, that I can only speak from the absolute Truth of the Bible and then from my own personal experiences — which, as the Bible states, Christians can have slightly varying convictions about certain topics as long as what we do is done in fear, in honor, and in love of the LORD.
So, please do not take my opinion as the ultimate line. If you, as a Christian, are looking for that specific line so that you can get as close to it as possible, please understand that this kind of heart attitude does not please God and is actually sin itself. God is after our complete loyalty. He has asked us as Christians to put ourselves under His authority. And as such, we are told to study Scripture, the ultimate Truth, and to then apply that to our lives. And do so in a wise manner.
Also understand that sexual purity cannot be a linear subject. It is so much more than waiting to have sex until you are married. It has everything to do with choosing to believe that God is all knowing, all loving, and holy, and as such, since we are adopted into His family as sons, we are to also live a life of wisdom, love, and holiness. We are to be set apart. And sexuality is just one manifestation of that belief.
So how about we start with what Scripture does tell us about sexuality.
First, we know that sex is to be a part of holy matrimony only. It is interesting that the Bible only uses terms like “sexual immorality” rather than “premarital sex,” which we are used to in our present culture. And we are told to flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). But if we look at what Jesus had to say about adultery, we can get a fuller picture of what He was speaking on.
Matthew 5:27-30 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
So here we get a specific picture of adultery.
Here’s a beautiful thing about the New Testament Covenant: within the confines of the Old Covenant (Old Testament), there were laws. Black and white laws that were to be followed, and if they were not followed, sacrifice (in a very specific way and at a specific time with specific people) was the only way to gain forgiveness — because, remember, God is a holy and just God; He is not only loving. But in the New Covenant, we go deeper, and we go wider, and we penetrate the very heart, the very nature of man in our healing and sanctification because our forgiveness has been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, and we have access to that if we only confess that Jesus is Lord and repent from our sin.
So because people still have a sense of morality, we know that adultery is wrong — or at least we should. And if adultery is simply looking at a person with lust in your heart — not even acted on — how much higher a standard are we called to in our romantic relationships, do you think?
God created marriage to be holy and sacred. And He created the intimacy of sex for marriage alone. This is the Biblical Truth to build your personal convictions on.
From here, you can draw many lines. I think the biggest issue here is this: Are you convincing yourself that your “convictions” are correct because that’s what feels good, or are you founding your convictions in Biblical Truth and out of love for God and for your significant other?
If holding hands causes you to stumble, don’t do it. And what do I mean by stumble? Christ told us that it is what is in our hearts that is sin. Our actions are only manifestations of our hearts’ conditions. So whatever your boundaries are, they should not cause you to think thoughts that dishonor God or dishonor your significant other.
Speaking from personal experience:
My husband and I, before getting married, knew that we were set on waiting until we were married to have sex. Sex is even a bad term to use. It’s too loose and up for individual interpretation. We chose to wait until we were married for intercourse.
And we had good intentions. Kissing was where we had originally placed our boundaries. Sadly, we did not stick to them, and I can attest and have attested to the spiritual and practical consequences of those actions in my life still today. (Post is here.)
Physical intimacy will always lead to desires for more. Those desires are not bad, if you take them to Christ and offer your life under His authority daily. Those desires are a gift from God, but to act on those desires is an interaction meant for only a man and his wife.
So, unfortunately, anon, I cannot tell you what my opinion on boundaries is. Because for some, even holding hands is too much. If it is too much, stay away from holding hands. If kissing is what causes you to lust after your significant other, stay away from kissing.
I would honestly urge all of you to stay away from alone time, especially at night, as much as possible. Those are dangerous situations.
Some more practical things to utilize for seeking wisdom in this:
We are called to worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). This includes making life decisions in wisdom and love and founding those decisions on Biblical Truths rather than what you are feeling is right in the moment.
I know that this probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but in Christianity, there really aren’t many, if any, easy answers. I firmly believe that God makes these laws for us so seemingly vague so that we have to search Him out for our answers. And that is so beautiful and so loving of Him. Because I know that if I had easy answers at every decision, I would grasp for the easy answers and not seek after Him.
I promise I will respond to you. This weekend is a little hectic. So if I get time today, I will get to you. But I can’t make any promises. So please be patient with me.
Reject the notion that you are supposed to be at a certain place by now.
Don’t measure yourself to some colloquial set of social constructions.
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