by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
There are many topics to consider when dating. Of these, one of the most important is sexual boundaries. It is no surprise that we live in a very sex-saturated society. Sexual images, content, and innuendos are seen and heard constantly in music, commercials, magazines, sit-coms, billboards, newspaper ads, movies, internet sites, books, etc. Sex is everywhere because industry giants have learned that "sex sells." Therefore, it can be difficult to escape the pervasive sexual messages our society promotes and unfortunately, many Christians have fallen into the trap of believing, "sex outside of marriage is acceptable and holding back is outdated." In contrast, God's Word is very clear about fornication (sex outside of marriage). "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18, KJV). We are designed to enjoy the wonderful experience of sexual intimacy within the confines of marriage.
As with all things in the Bible, God's guidelines are there for our own protection and benefit. Even if they seem countercultural or difficult to understand, God always knows what is best because He is our Maker. Sex is like a river. Within the banks of a river, the water can flow and be beautiful and passionate. However, if the water runs over the banks, the same river can cause great damage, such as destruction of trees, habitats, etc. Similarly, sex within marriage can be a joyous, safe, and wonderful experience; however, sex outside of marriage can cause great harm. Some of the obvious examples are sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and emotional wounds. In addition, when sex is permitted in dating relationships, it often becomes the central focus, severely stunting the healthy development of emotional, social, and spiritual intimacy, which drastically reduces the possibility of creating a successful long-term relationship. Our society has been very effective in reducing sex down to a mere biological act for immediate gratification. As hard as it may be, Christians need to elevate sex back to the level that God intended; a blissful, beautiful, and holy experience designed to be enjoyed only between a husband and wife. Therefore, when entering the dating scene, be sure to model and practice sexual boundaries and search for others who are committed to doing the same. Dating Christian singles who share this critical value will help you both stay loyal to this Biblical principle. In addition, it will maximize the chances of establishing a healthy foundation based on love, respect, and emotional, social, and spiritual intimacy. Moreover, you will have peace in knowing that your relationship is honoring God and becoming a model for others to follow.