For many Christian girls, the boundaries in dating are fluid and ever-changing. How far you go depends on who you are with, and the standards of purity are, well, fifty shades of gray.
We want a list of rules; that would be easiest. God doesn’t give us specific rules because He wants us to walk by His Spirit. But there are some things on which the Bible is clear, and here’s one of them: Your boyfriend doesn’t get husband privileges. He doesn’t get to participate in the things a married couple has the right to do, and there are solid, biblical reasons why that is. But even beyond the biblical reasoning, it’s to your benefit to withhold husband privileges from your boyfriend – not just for the sake of your holiness, but for your personal wellbeing.
There Is No Intimacy Without Covenant
Why does God save sex for marriage, and expect us to do the same? Purity culture gave us many reasons, some of which were valid (emotional protection, physical health, prevention of unwed pregnancy and the ensuing consequences). But the ultimate reason we see outlined in Scripture has to do with covenant and intimacy. I talked about this in my post Why God’s Design for Sex is Marriage:
“God has designed sex for marriage and requires marriage for sex because His definition of love is founded on sacrifice and commitment… “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Is. 49:15-16)… God’s kind of love is everlasting. It is faithful. And most of all, it is sacrificial. He sent Jesus to purify us so that we could have a relationship with our all-holy God. “
Intimacy with God (one-on-one relationship, bound together for eternity) is only achieved through covenant. The first covenant was cut in the blood of animals (Gen. 15). The New Covenant was cut in the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:15). In God’s eyes, intimacy comes at the highest of costs. Without a sacrificial covenant, intimacy is at best illegitimate, and at worst, destructive.
Your boyfriend has not covenanted to you before God, and until he does, he does not possess the right to access your most intimate self.
It’s that simple.
Self Respect Is Not Unrealistic
Is it unrealistic to expect a man to rise to this expectation? Well – yes. On human terms, God’s expectations are wholly unreachable. That’s why you should be dating a man who is directed by the Spirit of God.
Paul’s admonition to refrain from unequal yoking was not a suggestion; it’s a command. It doesn’t matter how much a guy says he loves you. Unless he has committed his life to Jesus Christ, he does not know what love is. True love is personified in Jesus Christ, and a man who refuses to submit his life to the Lord cannot love you with an eternal, sacrificial, covenant love. He may mimic it well, but the two of you will never be unified in spirit. And while you might talk about “forever”, your eternal destinies will be spent in two different places. Being equally yoked is no joke (read more here).
Even if your boyfriend is a Christian, husband privileges are not his to handle. You have value God has placed within your womanly heart – a value that he must respect, and you get to honor.
Self respect is not unrealistic, but it is uncommon. A woman who respects herself is willing to wait. She settles for no less than a man who values her according to God’s standards. Even in the Christian dating scene, your biblical self-respect speaks volumes to potential suitors. Unwavering confidence is available to those who are sure of their identities: Rooting themselves in Scripture, preaching the gospel unto themselves, and submitting their desires to God for the preservation of their character.
There are a few good men yet in the world. Believe the God who holds your eternal destiny, and respect yourself enough to say no.
Husband Privileges Require Commitment
Verbal platitudes may incite emotion. Facebook relationship statuses might get attention. But at the end of the day, you and your boyfriend will answer to God for how you behaved in the dark:
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)
What am I talking about? I’m talking about what happened at his apartment last night. I’m talking about the lines that are being blurred, the standards that keep failing, and those gray edges of purity that no one wants to define. I’ve been where you are, and I promise you: Compromise is never worth it.
No amount of “I love you’s” will allay the pain of regret. The Spirit of God within you will grieve the loss of true intimacy. And the Enemy, waiting at the door of your heart, will do anything to steal, kill, and destroy the beauty of God-designed sexuality.
Your holiness is not optional.
As I say over and over on my blog: The question is not, “How far is too far?” but “How holy can I be?” Or as Lisa Bevere puts it – you can go as far with your boyfriend as you’d be comfortable doing in front of your Father.
You have a Father who is watching. He is a Father of love and kindness, who gave you heart that longs for intimacy. He sees your longing to know and be known; it’s the basis of His relationship with you. But each time you allow yourself to be drawn in by illegitimate intimacy, you’re the one who loses. You’re cheating yourself. That guilt and lack of peace you feel the next day is preventable! Christ gives you every power to overcome (as He does your Christian boyfriend, who has just as much responsibility here). All you have to do is take Him up on His strength.
As the “big sister” I am, this is my call to your heart: Stop giving away the things that will make up your marriage. The little things we look forward to enjoying for the first time can be the “gateway drugs” of sexual sin. I know because I’ve been there… and wish I hadn’t.
Don’t make excuses for sharing a bed. Stop pretending “staying over” isn’t a big deal. Get his hands out of your shirt, your hearts back into order, and recognize the value of intimacy.
Wait for the covenant.
That is God’s will for you today.