How Far is Too Far When Dating?

Ever wonder what exactly is acceptable from a purity standpoint within a dating relationship? Is holding hands the extent or can you make-out (with tongue)? What if you happen to do a little more…where do you draw the line?

Well, my friend and writer Ally Spotts just wrote an e-book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? Basically, Ally demystifies this question and challenges Christians to begin asking the right questions about sex.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy and let me tell you, Ally pulls no punches. She says what everyone is thinking. If you are a single Christian navigating the dating world have you ever asked yourself any of these questions:

If I’m saving sex for marriage can I have oral sex? Is that wrong?

How much kissing is too much kissing? Can we sleep in the same bed?

What about dry humping? What’s the verdict on that?

When it comes to touching am I allowed to touch and be touched in whatever ways I want as long as it’s over the clothes?

What if I get an orgasm from it? Is that wrong?

What about getting naked? Can I take my shirt off as long as my pants are on? Can one of us be naked if the other one isn’t?

What is the right combination of nakedness to clothes to prevent myself from being convicted of sexual sin?”

Whew. Ally’s questions are truthful and honest. And as Ally points out, those are the questions we want to ask, but instead we ask the “safer,” socially-acceptable questions.

What we really want to ask is, how far can I go sexually and get away with it? At least, that’s what I always wondered when I was dating. But somehow I knew the answer to that question already. I knew in the back of my mind, in my heart, and in my Spirit, that any act within a dating relationship that left me feeling scuzzy, questionable, or ashamed was not what God had in mind for me.

“Too far” is when we reject God’s word when it tells us to “Flee from sexual immorality…” because…”Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

“Too far” is when we substitute the good things God has waiting for us in marriage with the less-than great things available to us before marriage.

“Too far” is when we think we can manage our own lust and be our own judge. But as Ally writes, lust is not manageable.

“Too far” is what leaves us with emptiness and brokenness within marriage for something we thought we could control outside of marriage.

Having made the mistake myself, I know all too well what the world tells you is sexually acceptable versus God’s instruction. One offers life. The other death.

I’m so excited that Ally is taking on these questions and compelling Christians to ask the questions they have really been wanting to ask. Because if we don’t have the freedom to ask, then we end up with the wrong answers.

Are you waiting for sex until marriage? Do you feel convicted to do so? Are you excited to wait? How far is too far in your mind? Have you ever failed to keep your own boundaries?

If you are intrigued and would like to read more from Ally Spotts’ new book Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? you canpurchase a copy for only .99. As a bonus, all proceeds will help support her in her new ministry, alongside her soon-to-be husband.



30 thoughts on “How Far is Too Far When Dating?”

  1. Well it’s good to know that lust isn’t manageable, ’cause I used to beat myself up all the time whenever a pretty girl would walk by and my immediate thought was, “Wow, she’s hot!” Naturally, I don’t try to hit on her, but still that natural reaction always made me feel guilty.

    1. Now that I’ve had a moment to look at Ally’s article, I now understand what she meant by “lust isn’t manageable.” Which is something for me to consider because, while I’ve never biblically known a woman, I’ve gotten to know myself quite a bit over the years, if you know what I mean. I don’t do it as much as I used to, thank God, but if I’m not careful it can easily become a really bad habit.

      1. Travis, I hate that you have felt guilty for finding a woman hot. You are a man, for goodness sake. You are not blind. You are suppose to notice a beautiful woman. The question though, is then what do you do after that?

        Some of what you alluded to in your second comment…Which I so get. Lust feeds upon itself. it cannot be satisfied. it cannot be quenched. That is why porn is so addicting. A little bit leads to a little more and a little more, until it is an all consuming fire.

        I think men (and especially women) need to acknowledge the male sexual nature for what it is and not judge it. However, man also need to be led by the Spirit and not the flesh, particularly in the area of sex.

        Thank you for sharing and being so open and honest here.

  2. Here’s a tip: Boundaries start in the mind. If you think “going there” in your mind is fine as long as you don’t do that in “real life” then you are already setting yourself up for failure.

    It’s what is in our hearts that matter first. Start with your heart and ask yourself why you need to know how far is too far? What’s driving you to even ask this question.

    Not saying it’s necessarily wrong to even wonder, because if there wasn’t a natural progression of desire it would make marriage and intimacy all the more difficult, eh?

    Once you have searched your heart, see what activity spurs on the progession of this desire. You want to run from temptation, not move towards it.

    The kind of intimacy meant for marriage is a way to “renew” a covenant of commitment to one another and one another only. Doing so when you’re not married just sets you up to never have the full experience of what God intended intimacy to be amongst a man and woman in marriage.

    And all the other “too far” activity outside of marriage reallllly clouds your vision and mission and direction to wait for marriage. Continuous “too far” activity sets you up for failure and puts yourself in continuous battles that are harder to fight than the battles that begin in your mind. Be wise with your thoughts and with your body. Do it as you seek God first in ALL you do. This honors Him and gives you clarity and peace beyond understanding.

    1. Christina,
      Great wisdom and thought you shared! I agree that the mind is so important. I find that too many believers though equate temptation with sin. It is not a sin to be tempted. They feel condemnation, however, for having a flashing thought and that is not helpful in any way.

      You wrote: “The kind of intimacy meant for marriage is a way to “renew” a covenant of commitment to one another and one another only. Doing so when you’re not married just sets you up to never have the full experience of what God intended intimacy to be amongst a man and woman in marriage.”

      This is absolutely right on and powerful! God has a plan for sex. He created it. Why would we ever want to mess with His plan for something so fun, enjoyable, and intimate?

      Thanks for sharing! I loved your thoughts on the issue.

      P.S. I scoped out your blog and you have so much great content. Keep up the good work. Hope to see more of you around here, as well.

    1. Man, Matthew…you are right. As Christians, adopted by God and set free from our sins, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask these questions. We should feel freedom to do so without fear of ridicule, judgment, or condemnation! Amen.

  3. I heard someone say, “If you have to ask if doing insert non-quite sex action here is safe, then you shouldn’t be doing it.” Not because what you asked is necessarily bad, but rather because your mindset isn’t heading down the right direction and you probably have the wrong motives. Doing anything with the wrong mindset and motives will lead you down a path of pain, hurt or regret; sometimes all 3 and more.

    I fully agree that lust isn’t manageable. In fact, society today has made it ridiculously harder to wait until marriage for sex. The average age people marry at now is around 25 for women and 27 for men. Keeping in mind most people discover their sexuality when they’re preteens, so that’s like 15 years to wrestle with lust and temptation.

    Even without media stimulation, simply spending enough one-on-one time with someone you’re attracted too makes 15 years, realistically too damn long. No one believes teenagers has what it takes to choose a partner anymore yet before about 75 – 100 years ago teenagers married all the time and marriages actually worked. Compared to now with the number of divorces almost out numbering the number of marriages.

    I’m not saying we revert back to how things used to be, but rather the change puts a very heavy strain on what we as Christians are called to do. The current situation doesn’t make it impossible (to wait for marriage), but it does make it incredibly more difficult. It will take more than simply ushering out guidelines and rules for dating, it will take an entire shift in what we think about sex, dating and marriage.

    I’m interested in reading Ally’s book and her responses to those questions she brought up though.

    1. Chris, You make some great points! 15 years is a loooooong time. I never thought of that.

      This right here nails it for me: “It will take more than simply ushering out guidelines and rules for dating, it will take an entire shift in what we think about sex, dating and marriage.”

      You are so right. We need to transform our thinking on the issue, through the power of God.

      If you haven’t already, I’m going to give you a copy of her book. Done and done. I’ve go your email.

  4. Wait is a four letter word for a reason.

    Because it sucks. It’s hard to wait. Nobody enjoys being told to wait.

    The reason we wait is because we know that the long run product is worth the short run difficulty.

    I’m waiting, not because I’m excited to, but because I’m excited about what will happen when I do.

    1. Kate, your answer is awesome. I’m so glad to know that you have some idea of how awesome sex is…in the context of marriage. God will bless your socks off for your obedience and perseverance.

      Oh, and you got yourself a copy of Ally’s book!

      1. I have grown up in the church as a pastor’s kid so pretty much I’ve been there every time the doors were opened and most days that they weren’t and so I’ve seen the context of sex in the church sense (not wanting to talk about it) the Jesus sense (talking about in the right outlets with the right community) and the worldly sense (always talking about unless you’re doing it in which case you don’t have time to talk about it because you’re so busy, well….doing it)…

        and with that much attention on it and that much struggle with push and pull of have sex vs don’t have sex vs have some sex vs…whatever…it’s easy to see that it’s exciting without ever having experienced it because truthfully, temptation is tempting because of the short run satisfaction it offers…so if all this dialogue is going on both in and outside of the church about it…and it’s this much of a temptation for so many, it has no choice but to be great.
        Does that make sense?

        and I never win anything. This is super exciting. Seriously, not even bingo. I’m pumped. Thanks!!!

  5. I really like this for 3 main reasons…

    1. I didn’t have this as a teen growing up dating my girlfriend (my wife now)
    so to have something like this available now is awesome…We just all knew that we shouldn’t stick the car in the drive way. LOL…thats it.

    2. I see young Christian teens today having girlfriends and boyfriends….for what? You only want a girlfriend or a boyfriend to make out with and feel up….i’m i wrong?….i didn’t remember wanting to play video games with my girlfriend…at least not before the other stuff…

    3. Christian’s seem to give the teens the impression to wait till your married to have sex…cause then….You’ll have Sex with your wife 4 times a day everyday and everywhere for the rest of your in love lives. This is the picture they imply…and it’s simply NOT true…Sex isn’t everything in a relationship…..They need to teach us the Men and Women are on oppostie ends of how they feel about Sex….

    Dang it, it talked to much. lol…

    I remember john piper saying….we need to ask ourselves (when we want to know if something is right or wrong)…Will this help me get Closer to Christ?

    or the old school one….What if your daddy walked in the door? Would he be embarrased? lol…

    1. Arny, you bring p an interesting point with #3. I wonder what is the right balance? We have to tell young people to wait and that sex in marriages worth waiting for, but at the same time we have to set realistic expectations.

      My husband and I read through a pre-marriage book during engagement and it asked us to describe what we thought our first time together would be like: lighting, fireworks, oceans parting or something different. it really helped us set realistic expectations leaving little disappointment. I think you’re on to something!

      PS You happen to be the lucky winner of the 2nd free copy of Ally Spott’s book that I’m giving away! Woot!

      1. lol! Sweet! (on the copy!)

        It just seems that the church conveys marriage as SEX!!! and it’s not…it’s just a small part….but they want to make it a HUGE Part…it’s about getting to really know your companion and best friend for the rest of your life…

        I’m afraid to even think, this is part reason divorce is taking over our christian families… they might have just set us up for failer…blah! hate saying that…

  6. This was a subject that was always on my mind in my my relationship. I was lucky enough to date someone that had his share of mistakes but was committed to keep our relationship pure. We definitely set boundaries and talked about how we would keep one another accountable. In working with college students we talk about boundaries all the time. They are always asking the question of what can I get away with. It’s been such a hard conversation because they want a straight answer. But like you said, they know the answer already. We know when the Holy Spirit is convicting us.

    1. Celisse, what a blessing to have had a relationship where boundaries were established and kept! And yes, college age is really so much about pushing the envelope and testing the boundaries. But, as you said, the Holy Spirit convicts. He is faithful to lead us on.

      Not to give you a hard sell or anything, but this book might be good for your students and it’s only .99! Here’s the link in case you’re interested:

  7. Glad to see that Ally is hitting this issue head-on. These issues – sex, porn, dating, etc. – are dodged and skimmed over all too easily in the church today. Our teens – heck, even our adults – need to stop pussyfooting around and start seeking the truth that all stems from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Good on ‘ya, Ally (and Nicole).

    1. Dan, Amen! We, as the church, do need to just address these issues head on. Our silence on so many of these topics perpetuates the lies, shame, and judgment. It is always refreshing to meet another like-minded believer.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Dan. Blessings to you.

  8. Those are all great questions. Questions I’ve been asking a lot lately.
    I’m female, but I have a sex drive and I know it. Lust isn’t just something guys struggle with. Same with porn and masturbation. Females struggle with it too. And it’s hard. It’s hard to wait when you feel like you love someone and just want to love them with all of you, but you know it’s wrong.
    How does one go about ordering a copy of this book?

    1. Joy, you are so right. Lust is not a male-only issue. Women who are sexual and/or struggle with lust are often made to feel gross for feeling that way. Or on the flip side, no one mentions women and their sex drive and the same thing happens–they feel ashamed and alone in their feelings.

      I totally get wanting to “love all of someone,” but I think being compelled to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and all your strength can encourage a person to keep waiting for His perfect timing.

  9. I’m sorry, I just have to step in here…I was married to someone for almost 19 years. I denied the fact that I was not sexually attracted to him for YEARS, and sex became something to be avoided. I eventually figured this out, and that I was not indeed frigid. (In fact, I discovered that I am actually a very sexual, sensual person.) But, part of my desperation for getting married was that I DIDN’T masturbate before I met him. I mean, at all. Never. Nada. So, my marriage to him was actually out of sexual frustration, rather than stepping back and really thinking about how wise my decision was. And, ironically, after marrying him and realizing that I married him out of lust and saw how ill-suited we were because of that, our marriage ended. My initial lust for him blinded me to the fact that I was not sexually attracted to him. This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but I hope I have explained myself adequately.

    So, now I make sure to masturbate; it keeps me from making another big mistake. I can be more objective about a possible future partner because I have released some of that tension. I’m not so desperate.

    So, sorry if I’m coming off as being blunt, or shocking, but I really feel strongly that masturbation is not always a bad thing!

    1. Hey Jeanette
      I think it is very important for to you know this as a christian.”While the Bible nowhere explicitly states that masturbation is a sin, there is no question as to whether the actions that lead to masturbation are sinful. Masturbation is nearly always the result of lustful thoughts, sexual stimulation, and/or pornographic images. It is these problems that need to be dealt with. If the sins of lust, immoral thoughts, and pornography are forsaken and overcome, masturbation will become a non-issue. Many people struggle with guilty feelings concerning masturbation, when in reality, the things that led to the act are far more worthy of repentance.

      There are some biblical principles that can be applied to the issue of masturbation. Ephesians 5:3 declares, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” It is hard to see how masturbating can pass that particular test. The Bible teaches us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you cannot give God glory for something, you should not do it.”

  10. I am “waiting” for marriage. I’ve been divorced for 4 years and since then became a Christian. There were a couple times when I’ve abandoned my desire to wait and just went ahead and “did it” but I’ve regretted it every day since.

    I have asked for forgiveness and believe I am forgiven. I don’t want to ever feel that emptiness and depression from having failed God.

    Some days I am not excited to wait. Sometimes I wish God didn’t make up that rule. I just wish that we can do whatever we want. But I know that it’s for the best.

  11. Hey Nicole,
    I just came across your blog and this particular article and I think christians should also keep Ephesians 5:3 in mind: “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.”

    Have a blessed week

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