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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Four Easy Boundaries for Christian Dating

Some years ago, I was talking to teen girls about personal boundaries. Afterwards, a young adult woman asked how to know how far to go. It was a sincere question, and she needed a solid answer.

Where should we set boundaries? Why do we need them? What if … ?

First, I think it’s great when parents talk openly with their teens about this—way before they date. Talk about purity and right behavior with your children. A lot of parents aren’t open with their kids, and they don’t provide them with guidelines. Young people don’t know what’s expected of them. They have no clue.

So, Susie goes out with Fred, and she’s scared. They haven’t talked. Susie needs a framework, some kind of guideline.

Let’s look first at what the Bible says to young people.
  • The context is about avoiding fornication: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1).
  • This passage speaks first to unmarried men, then to unmarried women. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).
  • Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (lifestyle), in charity (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
  • The young, single pastor Timothy is admonished about how to treat people in his congregation: The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity (1 Timothy 5:2).

These short passages (above) give a great four-point outline for dating conduct:
  1. Treat other single people like your brother or sister.
  2. Please God.
  3. Don’t touch. (Only touch as is normal between friends.)
  4. Be pure, both in body and spirit.

How can we achieve this while we’re dating? Here are a few suggestions that are tried and proven:
  • Plan your dates for public places—where someone might walk by at any time. Always go to public places! You can go to concerts, ball games, church functions, restaurants, cafés, parks, boardwalks, malls…. Use your imagination!
  • Perhaps a corollary to the first rule is never be alone in a house, together. Nothing is more intimate than knowing the bedroom is a few steps away—and no one else is in the house. Never, ever end up alone in a house all by yourselves. If it happens (your roommate leaves, for example), you can both step outside. Also, don’t park a car and remain inside it. When you arrive at your destination, get out of the car and go to your activity. You can talk on the way. These two rules will save you from some very awkward situations.
  • Keep all your clothes on. I am amazed how many moms don’t talk to their daughters about this. If a guy “wants to see,” that is simply not acceptable. Only husbands have a right to see. Do not lift up, unbutton, unzip, or let anyone see what’s only for husbands. Keep all clothes properly on. Enough said.
  • Decide before your heart is involved where your boundaries are. Many Christian women and men decide not to kiss until the wedding. It is wise to be very careful where you draw the line—and stick to it. Make sure your guideline is purity. That means absolutely no touching of body parts that would be covered by a modest swimsuit (women) and surfing shorts (men). That also means no touching other than how you would touch a friend. A touch to the arm or holding a hand is “friendship” touching. Be very careful about full body hugs—probably not a good idea—and kissing. If you decide to allow a kiss, make sure it’s short and sweet, not anything else. If you set boundaries as a couple, it is easier to keep them.
  • Most important is your heart attitude. Is it more important to please God or this person? Clearly God. So, make sure you please Him in every area of your life—especially as you get to know the person you’re dating. Get to know this person’s heart and soul. Find out his goals, his values, his desires. Evaluate your potential partner on the basis of God’s standards.

I hate to have to mention this, but many men take advantage of naïve women. They butter them up with words and gifts and “love” and then ask for sexual favors—or force themselves upon them. This is not true love! This is selfishness. The Bible says that love (called charity) suffereth long (is patient), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil (1 Corinthians 13:4.5). If your boyfriend doesn’t behave purely toward you, you have the wrong boyfriend. If he’s not willing to wait until after marriage for sex, you have the wrong boyfriend. He’s only thinking of himself. If he blames you, is easily provoked, and says ugly things about you, run! He will be more abusive the longer you let this relationship go on. You do not want to live with a manipulative man who shows you only lust and not biblical, pure love. By the way, you always have the right to say no and flee. I know this is hard, but if a man has committed a crime towards you (date rape), he needs to be reported to authorities—so that his next girlfriend doesn’t suffer the same fate.

A man who truly respects a woman will behave in a decent way towards her. He will not ask her for favors. He will treat her as a Christian sister and with biblical love and purity. The Bible says this goes for women, too. 

Purity is important.

I’m sure you want nothing less.

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