Single OR Married: Intimacy = Not a Sliding Scale, But a Step

Dr. Michael Lawrence, a Pastor at Capitol Hill along with Mark Dever and others, put out what I think is an EXCELLENT series on Christian sexuality, dating, and marriage, with one topic directed at men, one topic for women, and Q & A sessions for both groups.

Jerod has grouped them all here in one nice & neat blog post for ease of accessibility. Each selection takes roughly one hour, and they are all highly relevant and quite engaging. Please take time to listen to any and all of them that fit your needs or interest.

I want to share one particular clip that gives a taste of the unique wisdom you'll find in the series, and also invite you to share your thoughts about this quote in the comments. After explaining that the act of sex is a part of marriage, he asks:
What about everything else, though? What about everything that falls short of actual sexual intercourse/penetration?

Well, I think typically, we as evangelicals have bought into a very secular idea that views other acts of sexual intimacy on a sliding scale. And we all in our own minds, in our own conscience, try to draw a line somewhere. And we say, "Okay, on this side of the line, that's far enough away from sex that it's okay, and on that side of the line, okay, that's beginning to feel enough like sex that it must not be OK, or it might lead in the wrong direction."

I want to suggest to you that when God created sex, He knew what He was doing. And He created sex and sexual intimacy and all the things that are associated with sexual intimacy, in such a way that they work really well. The married men in the room know what I'm talking about.

What I want to say to you single men is that most of the things, well, probably all the things that you put on this side of the line that are "safe", and you think in your dating/courtship relationship, "I can do this because it's not sex", married men do with their wives and they call it foreplay. And the reason they call it foreplay is because God designed it in such a way that it leads to sexual intercourse.

It's like a one-way street. There are a lot of things that you pass on this one way street called "sexual intimacy", and there are a lot of things you can do on that one way street short of actual intercourse. But God made that street to run in one direction. It's heading somewhere, guys, and you know it's heading somewhere. That's why you like it; that's why it feels good. Because God designed those things to lead you to enjoy an experience of that full intimacy in the context of marriage.

So I want to suggest that at even the pragmatic level, if you don't intend to go where that street's leading you, then don't get on it. ...Sexual intimacy is designed to escalate and proceed to a goal that God designed. Foreplay works; it gets you to sex. If you buy the biblical teaching that sex is designed for marriage only, then don't start playing with the things that lead you there.
He later makes the point that intimacy should not be seen as a sliding scale, where you kind of slide into intimacy--but rather, as a step, where once you get married, you step into a relationship that now includes the sexual intimacy that you have not enjoyed prior to that point.

I wish I had heard such straightforward, commonsense advice when I was a teen & college student. I certainly fell into the trap of thinking of sexual intimacy as divided into two categories: actual sex, and "things other than sex". This kind of transparency about God's design for & God's delight in marital intimacy is so crucial in this day and age when sexual intimacy is treated as just another valid option on the smorsgasborg of enjoyable choices for a date night as a single. Putt-putt? Make out so he'll ask me out again? See the latest movie? Wear something revealing since it's our third date?

Clearly, the current system and view of sexuality (even in Christian circles) isn't producing successful and faithful marriages. Or even, as it often promises, more "free" and happy people. In fact, when we follow the cultural systems presented to us, it leads to bondage, depression, and brokenness. I think this kind of biblical picture of intimacy needs to be painted loudly and often to this oversexualized-in-all-the-wrong-ways world.

So tell me your thoughts. Dating. Intimacy. What's expected. Why you think this advice is right/wrong. How we can communicate these things to our children and offer this kind of biblical view of intimacy as God's gift to married couples.

Let's talk about it!


amanda said...

Your title at first jolted me because it sounded like you might be saying marriage is a "step up" from being single . . . but once I read and saw that you meant intimacy in marriage versus intimacy before marriage I was able to go back and read the post with an open mind.

I don't have answers to your questions, but I whole-heartedly agree.

My husband and I waited until our wedding day for our first on the lips kiss. We didn't hug until we were engaged--and even then it was just a side hug. And he waited over two months to hold my hand for the first time.

So, yes, we took a huge step on our wedding day . . . from never been kissed to consummating our marriage.

We both have no regrets.

We've just passed the seventh month mark of our first year as husband and wife . . . and every chance my husband gets he is telling young men two things (1) pursue marriage and (2) don't touch her till she is yours. I love to watch him be so joyful as he encourages young men (18-30) to trust God's divine design.

Jess said...

Oops, Amanda! I changed the title to (hopefully) avoid that misunderstanding in the future. Thanks for the insight... sometimes when I'm sitting here at my computer composing something with my thoughts fully on the subject, I can miss something blatantly obvious like that that communicates something so very different from what's intended. So, thanks! :)

becky said...

Hi Jess! I don't have time to write much, but did want to say I appreciate whenever you take on the topic of *gasp* Christians and sex.

I used to be a junior high youth group leader and we one time felt led to do a whole series on sex (side note-all the parents said they were relieved b/c they wouldn't have to "do the dirty work" said is that!?)

Anyway, since the kids wanted "cut and dry" specifics about what's allowed and what's not before marriage, we knew we had to tell them something. But as leaders, and not parents, we knew it wasn't up to us to make the hard and fast rules ("Kissing is okay, no tongues, 2 seconds only"...stuff like that).

So what we told these 11-14 year olds is "Generally what is acceptable before marriage is what you'd be comfortable doing with your parents in the room. And when you're parents aren't in the room-remember, Jesus is. And then go find your parents."

It's amazing what our society has deemed appropriate. It all goes back to following the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. People (Christians for sure!) tend to chose whether the spirit or letter fits their given situation, based on what it is they want to justify!!

The Dearborn Family said...

I agree! My parents were very strict when it came to courtship and what was allowed. My husband and I also shared our first kiss at the altar after we said our vows. We joke now that the only time we were allowed to even hold hands was while praying (and you better believe we worked it out so we would be next to each other anytime prayer came up. ;)) We are both so grateful for the ground rules that were set, and plan to do the same with our daughter, and any other children God blesses us with.

Anonymous said...

Wish someone had the guts to explain it that way when I was younger. When our youth director had Q&A sessions, I always wanted to know 'how far is too far.' For some reason, he never got to that one. I will say, though, that in my heart, the Holy Spirit was quietly teaching me. But it's a lot easier to ignore that when there is no confirmation from 'someone who knows.'

Belinda said...

I can't wait to hear from those more experienced than I on this subject. We want so much to raise our children to be pure.

We hope that they understand that there is the worlds way that would tend to make you believe that we are to be "experianced" before we commit to just one person. Then, there is God's way that tells us we are not to be foolishly throwing our hearts around.

Our 13 year old son knows that dating is practice for divorce and he wants to save his first kiss for his wedding. We, as his parents, need to help protect his heart from falling short of his goal.

I was told as a child that "one should never date anyone you wouldn't want to marry". That saved me from a lot of dating around, but it did not get to the heart of the matter and cover all situations.

The heart of the matter being purity and holding ourselves to a holy standard. We hope we are giving our children healthy training in this area.

We discuss what should be saved for your spouse(kissing, touching)and try to point out godly examples of couples that have been or are being successful at this(like stories or movies).

Tiffanie said...

Thanks for this post! The first time I had heard of saving even the first kiss for your wedding day was watching the Duggar family on TV. I thought it was wise and certainly wish I had been taught better as a teen. I agree that this message needs to be "painted" loudly and I have already begun the conversations with my children that sexual purity means everything from kissing onward. It is my prayer that they will not make the same mistakes that my husband and I did. Thanks for your straight-forward, no nonsense approach about sex. It is much needed!

Laura said...

Good stuff, Jess! I've also heard intimacy described as the "on-ramp" -- it's designed to get you to the highway!

My parents were very diligent to teach that sex belonged in marriage, and that there were parts of the body that God made to be private. But if someone had told me at age 19 or 20 that I couldn't so much as KISS someone I wasn't married to... golly. I would have thought they were Amish or something.

I honestly think it's incredibly important when discussing purity with young folks NEVER to focus on where the "line" is (you may hold hands, but you may not kiss, etc.). Once you start thinking in those terms, it's really hard to go back to thinking in terms of holiness! Apart from the fact that it's easy for kids to put that in the category of "another one of mom and dad's lame rules," it also fails to focus on the positive commands of Scripture regarding sexual purity.

I try to urge my students and other younger single people to ask themselves a few questions:

1. Am I old enough for marriage? (If not, this should all be a moot point. The Scriptures say not to awaken love until the proper time, therefore no dating until you're of marriageable age.) If so, can I foresee marrying this person?
2. Do I desire to put the needs of others (specifically this person I'm dating) before my own needs and desires?
3. Am I striving to honor God with my behavior, speech, and thoughts with regard to this person?
4. Am I making every effort to treat this person, as God's word commands, "as a sister (or brother), with absolute purity"?

I would also encourage parents to see relationships like a funnel, and to teach their kids accordingly. In other words, the getting-to-know-you part of a relationship (whether courtship for a girl living at home or godly dating for one living away from home) should generally be longer than an engagement. Once an engagement happens, marriage should follow as quickly as possible. Few things frustrate me more than seeing godly young people's efforts at purity become increasingly difficult (and often failure-fraught) because their parents insist they have a year-long engagement! NO ONE, under ordinary circumstances, needs a year-long engagement. It's like telling your kids not to eat the cookies on the counter but refusing to feed them breakfast, lunch, or dinner for two days! :)

In all seriousness, though, I'd encourage any parent in this position to HELP their engaged son or daughter quickly toward the only godly place for them to express their (good! right! natural!) desire for sexual intimacy.

Anonymous said...

I agree about this and I pray so much for other christians to GET IT because it concerns me so much that we as believers look so similar to couples in the world.

When my husband and I were courting, we couldn't believe the looks and comments that we got from other believers when we shared that we didn't hold hands, didn't sit close together, didn't kiss, were together alone, and we didn't see R, PG, or P rated movies. That we only saw G rated. They said we were being TOO SPIRITUAL.

But, we knew what our lives were like before each other and due to where we were in our walk with the Lord, we didn't want to set ourselves or each other up to fall. So, we vowed to not touch or kiss until our wedding day and BOY was that a KISS! LOL


Bethany Hudson said...

Not having any older children of my own, but having spent a lot of time with middle school, high school, and college-aged kids & young adults, I would say that the #1 key is ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVES!

Let me explain. If we are constantly thinking about "How far is too far" or "Is this 'too' bad?" or even if we start thinking about sexual intimacy as "bad", we've lost sight of God's purposes for chastity. Chastity isn't there because sex is bad but to guard it because it is so powerful and so GOOD! Also, we can't forget that chastity isn't meant only for the single--we married folks are called to chastity, too--to keeping our sexual relationship within marriage a godly and holy one!

So, how to accentuate the positives? Stress all the GOOD that comes from being chaste. Remind your children of the way their chastity now is going to bless their future spouse. Teach them to value that future relationship more than the "cute" girl/guy in school. Talk to them about how being disciplined with their sexual urges now is going to bless them and their spouse in the future. Discuss the benefits of walking a holy path rather than stressing what "not" to do. Encourage your kids to desire holiness rather than to fear or shun sexual desires.

Have open conversations with your kids. Make sure they feel comfortable discussing their sexual feelings and temptations with you--not that they have to be explicit, but they should be able to be honest--this is crucial! That way, if your son or daughter has their first kiss they can discuss with you what that stirred in them. You can then discuss how even something as small (and huge!) as a kiss is part of God's design for sex--it might not drive you to jump into bed immediately, but it's a part of building sexual intimacy; in fact, it's a cornerstone. Even one kiss is going to at least open you up in a profound way emotionally to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Talk with your son or daughter about whether or not they want to be encouraging that kind of intimacy with this person. They might realize that they don't, once they're thinking about it clearly.

Monitor your children's dating! I personally am a huge fan of courting. Barring that, though, talk to your son or daughter about the importance and strength of group dating and of spending time doing activities that are actually going to build relationship SKILLS (rather than merely fostering intimacy) and that will help to reveal to them the strengths and weaknesses in the person they are pursuing. Remember that Christians should date (if they date) or court to figure out if this person is a potential spouse and to build the skills necessary in marriage--not for recreation! Discuss with your son or daughter what activities will best foster the sort of experience they want with this special person in their lives. Too often, teens and young adults fall into the "isn't this what you do on a date?" trap. They might need to be encouraged in getting more creative (and godly) with their approach to dating/courting.

Just some ideas. Hope they are helpful. Jess, thanks for sharing this talk. I think he was right on.


Laura said...

Ok, ok... I'm back. I listened to the men's session and Q&A, and I think it's great. But I have to say, all the guys on the panel said something that's just my pet peeve!! They spent about five minutes downplaying the importance of being physically attracted to the girl you're going to marry. Now I understand why all the former CH interns I knew from seminary thought it was a sin to think a girl was hot! ;)

I know what they're trying to say, I think (that looks fade, they shouldn't be the first priority, etc.). But when was the last time you talked to a guy who was crazy about his wife who didn't have a story about being knocked out by his wife's hotness when they first met? I guess I just want to balance that whole "looks fade" realism with a robust understanding of a good God who's not up in heaven tut-tutting about a guy who thinks to himself, "I'm gonna ask that hot Christian girl out!"

I would be interested in your take on this, Jess, since you always seem to have such a balanced perspective. This really is one of my pet peeves -- what is the point of downplaying the attractiveness issue? Why not just play UP the other important stuff without making dudes feel like it's not ok for them to be attracted to their girlfriends?

Marcia Wilwerding said...

I remember Dr. James Dobson doing a program one time way back in the '90s about the bonding process God created to bond married couples together. It began with eye-to-eye, then maybe hand-to-hand, then led to more and more contact. He was absolutely right. It does not begin with physical contact. Gazing into one another's eyes can begin something either very special for married couples or very dangerous for those who are not.

In Bible college we were required to maintain a 6-inch rule between the sexes. None. Zero. Nada. It worked very well accompanied by a heartfelt vow before God to keep that rule until the wedding altar. Even after 20+ years of married bliss, we have for keeping that vow. None. Zero. Nada.

I hope those who are not married yet will consider this vow before God. Don't do it for me or your parents or anyone else. Do it as an offering of thanksgiving to God for His gift of married love.

You will enjoy it so much more later. I promise.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,

Thanks for your blog - I really enjoy reading it! I don't know if you have come across Pope John Paul II's 'Theology of the Body'. It is Catholic (as am I!)but it is worth exploring as it addresses so many of the issues on sexuality that you blog about. Here's a good place to start...

It speaks of a beautiful vision of human sexuality in its God-intended form. It also sheds light on the 'catholic' viewpoint of sexuality in terms of contraception, abortion, marriage, pornography, masturbation etc. It is intended for every human in every stage of life, not just those in sexual relationships.

Hope you can use it to some degree (it is quite 'Catholic'!)

God Bless


Anonymous said...

But what I should really say is that after having had my heart broken, no, WHILE I was in process of having had my broken, I discovered a lot of info that falls into the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" camp.

Yup, I had been VERY accommodating. But when we'd started getting to know each other, I hadn't. So when I was "a challenge" for this guy, he was THERE, fully attentive. A few years later, after I let down my guard and became more of a "studier" and accommodater, it all fell to pieces. I was miserable. He stopped communicating. Blech. So suit yourselves, ladies. Experiment and take note of each approaches impact on your relationship. For me, I was AMAZED by how much of a difference it made. I've tried both approaches now in many different types of situations. It's taken a long time, but I am beginning to find the happy medium.

Best of luck, all!


Kris said...

Odd and creepy as it may sound, I explained intimacy and the pre-marital relationship this way to my daughter:

If you would be uncomfortable seeing your father doing *whatever it is* with a woman other than your mother, it is TOO FAR. She countered with "but he's married to YOU", to which I explained that EXACTLY is why you can guarantee that "gray area" to be too far for an extramarital relationship. Marriage is the formality that God requires of us to ALLOW the intimacy He planned within it.

For some ridiculous reason, society has this idea that experimenting with multiple partners (or even just one) with varied degrees of intimacy is acceptable outside of marriage, but once you're married.....BANG--then you're tied to just that one person. Hold hands with a girl? Fine, as long as you're not married to someone else. Well.....what if you're not married to ANYONE? If it's not okay for a married person to do with someone they aren't married to, then it's not okay for an unmarried person to do with someone AT ALL.

She "got it".

Anonymous said...

I have worked with teens for almost 14 years, and this is such a hot button issue! My husband and I have such a problem with abstinence programs for this very issue. They get a group of high school or college kids in a room together - usually mixed gendered - tell them how great sex is and not to do it. It's like taking a diabetic to a dessert buffet, showing them everything and then saying, "you can only have the strawberries."

I wish we could have a focus on purity, which is a life long life style, rather than "don't connect genitals until you're married."

We never cease to be amazed at the parents who fight us when we tell kids that we don't believe in dating.

Mrs said...

I agree with Bethany about accentuating the positive! Wonderfully said.

What our young people cannot know is how sexual activity before marriage WILL bring consequences, even if they marry the only one they've shared intimacy with. I cannot believe how strongly I resented my husband for not FIGHTING for our purity, even though we weren't believers when we met. I resented him for not protecting me from myself, even. The Holy Spirit has done much to heal and restore in our marriage (and God is "giving back the years the locusts have eaten," so to speak), but it's still a struggle.

The struggle for me has been associating sex with sin. The book Sheet Music helped in this area tremendously.

However, I'm still struggling with associating SEXINESS for my husband with sin. After all, that's what we experimented with the most before we were married.

All of this could have been avoided!

Thadeus said...


I love your method. It is a good way to put things in perspective.

I also think Bethany's response was good.

Most of all, I would like to echo what Karen shared. The teachings about human sexuality by Pope John Paul II called "Theology of the Body," is a profound Bible-based teaching. I would encourage anyone to take a look at the resources/books by Christopher West on the subject.

There is also a Theology of the Body for Teens that I haven't read yet, but have heard good things about.

Thanks for sharing this, Jess, and for your blog in general. This is my first comment, but I read often.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

This fits so well into my thoughts as I posted today on marital intimacy problems. And I truly believe that in many instances, pre-marital sex and sexual behavior is a big part of the problem.

It's almost like you read my mind. And I say this as one who was "with child" already when I married my husband. Our past behavior meant that we have had to work extra hard to get to where we are today, which is a blessed place. But it wasn't easy.

I think singles really need to read this and take it to heart.

Kerry said...

Great Post! I would also have loved hear this as a teen. I even grew up in a Christian home and going to church everytime the doors were open and all we ever heard was "don't touch each other on the bathing suit areas" I think it's important for young people to realize that with any sin (white lies etc) Satan tries to justify what you're doing in your mind. Even though you know in your heart what you're doing is wrong you hear him say in your head "what's wrong with kissing here if you've kissed there etc" It's not like the "good Christian girl" wakes up saying "I'm going to have sex today" but it slowly creeps up on you. He tells us those lies just like he did Eve. Know what I mean? Thanks again for the post-I'll hold onto this info when my kids are older!

This Road said...

You did a much better job of getting these talks heard than I did. I think that is great. I have listened to these talks over and over. Mainly because the way that I was taught to find a wife is so desperately flawed. The first time that all of this hit me was when I heard someone say that if you don't marry that person they will most likely go on to marry someone else. Therefore, if you are not married to that person don't do things that only married people do. I truly do wish that I had heard this before I started dating. The hardest part is getting young men to see the truth of it. Also to get them to treat women in a more godly fashion. Of course all of this starts in the home at a young age. Fathers are so crucial. I don't know many women who would want their fathers to be the first person men talk to when wanting to court them. I also don't know many men my age whose fathers did a good job of teaching them how to treat women. Chivalry might not be dead but it is on life support. Hopefully we can teach the young men to do better job than our fathers have done.

Judy said...

Wonderful and thought-provoking!
Thank you!
Your blog is delightful!
This is my first (but not last) visit!
God bless your sweet family ~
I hope you will visit me too!

Graceful Threads said...

Nothing screams *I'm legalistic* than a person who skirts around sin and says that they are not sinning. The law says thou shalt not commit adultrey but Jesus Christ came and wrote a law on our hearts. The new law is one of wisdom and love where we can take Biblical principals and use wisdom!!!People who do these things have lost the spirit of God in the conviction. The conviction has become nothing more than a religious TRADITION.

n*stitches said...

Great post! Thank you!

Kim said...

Thank you so much for this post! I will admit that the title upset me as it didn't seem to say what I know you have always stood for...

However, upon reading I found it was exactly the perfect title. I have added a link to this post on my blog as I really want people to read this. So very very good! Thank you. I keep coming back to your blog because it makes me think.

Anonymous said...

This has brought up a lot of conversation between my husband and I! I didn't know we felt so differently. He looked at me last night and said, "So do we have to resolve this tonight?". Our boys are 6, 3, and 10 mos. Haha! Thanks for everyone's thoughts!

Claire said...

Great post. This topic has come up a lot in my life in the past few years. I have a beautiful 14yo daughter who looks and acts 18 or so. We started with her fairly young talking about purity. A young couple from our homeschool group talked separately to the young men and women of our group about their courtship, and their choice to refrain from all physical contact except hand-holding until their wedding day. We also had another young, courting couple talk to our kids about their journey. It really helps for kids to hear it from people they can relate to, I think.

I wish someone had told me these things. I had my heart broken so many times, and it really affected the way I view relationships, marriage and love. Although I've been married 18 years, it's been really difficult. I want better for my kids. God's way is better.

Something we can all do for our kids is pray for their future spouses, wherever they are. I pray that my children's future spouses are being raised in Christian homes, with the same values that we have. :)

Shannon said...


When we were living in Ft. Worth we attended Hope Community Church. There was a women's Bible study called "Seasons of Womanhood" that I was briefly a part of. One of the women that helped write the material made a statement about purity that I thought, "I wish someone had told me this when I was 13!" She basically said as a single person one should not do with the opposite sex what would be done only with a spouse once married. So, now, with my 3 daughters and a deep desire to teach them purity starting NOW, I have kept this thought in my mind. Would I hold another man's hand? Would I kiss another man? Definitely not in a romantic way.

Even as my 4 year old plays dress up and pretends to be a princess, she wants to be kissed by the prince. I continually remind her to wait for her "true love's kiss" from her husband. I also remind her that her True Prince is Jesus, who loves her more than any other person ever will. She pretends to be a princess nearly everyday, so this conversation happens a lot. :) Every time, it reminds me that the desire to be loved and adored is written on our hearts from such a young age by the Creator himself because he wants to be our True Love.

And isn't that, afterall, what intimacy comes down to - what God has written on our hearts to draw us to him?

Shannon said...

After reading through all of the comments, I wanted to add one more thing. I have prayed for the purity of my daughters since the day I knew I was expecting. But my prayer is not, "Lord, help them to remain pure until the day of their wedding." Purity is a life long thing, so my prayer is always that their lives would be pure.

And at night, I often pray ALOUD for their future husbands to be holy, men of God. Sometimes, my oldest even reminds me to pray for her husband. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I wish I would have seen this topic differently several years ago. All I was ever told was "don't have sex before you are married." All I saw was the "line" and the above mentioned example of foreplay/street. I was never told that God created sex for certain reasons and here is why. I hope to have a more open relationship with my children and pray that they will understand these things and remain pure until their wedding day.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I believe that an unintended consequence of sending this message to your children is increasing the likelihood that they will marry at a very young age in order to explore sexual intimacy.

We know statistically that around 90 percent of marriages end in divorce for people who were teenagers when they got married. That's a lot higher than the divorce rate for people who got married when they were a little older.

The average age at marriage is younger in the Bible-belt states that consistently dominate the top ten list in terms of U.S. divorce rates.

I would worry about my kids going too far, too fast as teenagers, but I would be more concerned about them getting married at age 18 just because they'd never been kissed and felt strongly attracted to someone. That sounds like a recipe for divorce to me.

Laurie B

Anonymous said...

I should mention that while this view of intimacy wouldn't have worked for me (I think I would have been terrified to go from never having been touched by my husband to sexual intercourse on our wedding night), and teaching this to teenagers could in my view lead to a lot of young marriages and early divorces, I appreciate that this approach to intimacy is coherent.

In that sense, it's a much better message for children than "just don't go too far before you're married."

Nothing is more ridiculous than the teenagers who are having anal or oral sex while making a big deal out of staying "virgins" until their wedding night.

Laurie B

Mrs. Anna T said...

We Orthodox Jews are blessed by simple, clear, straightforward law: no touching prior to marriage. And I mean NO touching. My husband and I never held hands before we were married. We never remained alone behind closed doors prior to marriage. Following these rules was hard, but it was the wisest thing we ever did.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the premise that non-married couples and singles should be careful to avoid inappropriate intimacy. This quote makes me sad though. Did anyone else notice that in saying these things lead to the sexual act (I am assuming he means holding hands, rubbing backs, kissing), he makes it seem like that is the reason to make these gestures? Am I reading this wrong? Or can a husband carress his wife to express affection without any ultimate desire for sex?

Jess said...

I wonder if you're unnecessarily separating the two...

God designed it so that physical touch leads to emotional intimacy, which leads to physical touch, which leads ... etc. Now, I'm not saying that it ALWAYS happens that way (unfortunately we live in a messed-up world that yields stinky relationships)... but yes, things that lead to the sexual act do give emotional intimacy... which fuels physical intimacy. The two ought to be intertwined.

As I read it (and heard it), it's not saying that the only reason to hug is so that you can take the fast lane immediately to sex... what he is saying is that these things head on a path. And they do, generally speaking.

I don't think he's saying that getting to sex is the *only* reason to take these actions, but that it is a natural outcome of snuggling, massaging, spending long times kissing, etc. That's the way it came across to me.

Anonymous said...

My wife asked me to read your post. Quite well done. I respect Dever and his crowd much. Praise Jesus that He can redeem all things in this life and the next. No Elisabeth Elliot-esque testimony here.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I thought of you when I read this post on an Iowa conservative blog:

Laurie B

Rachel said...

I agree. I was taught by my church youth group and christian magazines, all sources my parents and grand parents trusted ... I was taught to make a line and be sure in your mind that you won't cross it. I drew the line at kissing - but not at hand holding and light touching.

My husband was about the 5th "boyfriend" that I had ... not to mention several other crushes. We were good friends and he took me skating, so we were holding hands our first outing ... because he was a much better skater than I was.

By the time I realized (years down the road) that he had a lazy streak a mile wide and heavily in debt after 2 years on his own, I was too emotionaly attatched to back away and cancell or postpone our engagement.

How could I have predicted that my "hot point" was touching ... and that I really wouldn't like kissing much at all.

Why didn't anybody ever tell me that snuggling and hugging could be (and were for me) almost as emotionally binding as sex?

Knowing what I know now, I shudder at how often I tempted my husband and myself to cross the line without knowing how close we were and assuming we were well back of the line.

I have discussed this topic - on their level - with my 2 daughters, 11 and 14. I explained it like a Christmas gift, and asked them would they like a pretty sparkly present or one with fingerprings, saggy bows, smudges, tears, etc. I've heard them explaining this to their friends too.

Anonymous said...

I am 20 years old. I'm starting to see a guy and am very glad that I read your post. I agree with most of the things you said. I don't want to be sorry in a few years that I didn't listen to the Holy Spirit. I have dated a few guys before and I didn't enter the relationship with the right motives and without God. I want to do it right this time. I have an older sister, so I have learned a lot out of her mistakes. I will appreciate it a lot if you will pray for me. Thank you...