The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Is it OK to touch my girlfriend's breasts if it doesn't lead to either of us thinking about sex?

This is something that I really struggle with, but I want to do what is right in the sight of the Lord, and I'm not really sure if it is OK or not. We are both Christians. I have asked her about it and she is OK with doing it, but we want to do what is right. Please help me with this.


Answer

I hope you will not mind if I'm blunt, but there is an inconsistency in what you asked, so I would like you to consider some things. When we talk about "thinking about sex," what do you think that entails? Is it only thinking about being naked with your penis in her, or does sex start earlier than that? "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1). Paul is not talking about walking down a crowded hall and brushing against people as you walk by. In the next verses he says, "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (I Corinthians 7:2). Thus, Paul is talking about touching in a sexual way.

Sex doesn't start with intercourse (when the guy's penis enters the woman's vagina). There is a build up of sexual desire or passion that leads to the act of intercourse. That build up comes from touching and stroking parts of the body that are particularly sensitive to sexual desire. That passion can get strong quickly, and while wrapped up in it, you don't think clearly. Instinct takes over. That is why I frequently get notes from people saying things like:

  • "I didn't intend for things to go that far ..."
  • "It just happened ..."
  • "Before I thought about it, it was already done ..."
  • "It was an accident ..."

In some ways, they are right -- they didn't think -- and that is where the problem arises. "Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life" (Proverbs 7:22-23).

The reason for the warning is that to prevent intercourse, you need to avoid stirring up sexual desire. Now, your desire for sex is always there, it is a fact of being human. Your interest in sexual things is understandable, but the body is designed to finish what is started, so you will be always pushed by instincts towards the act of sex.

Let me give you an example. You get hungry, but you decide because of sports that you need to watch your weight and not eat as much. So because you are resolved not to swallow, do you put a piece of steak in your mouth? Do you say, "I can chew, so long as I don't swallow"? I think you understand that if you are serious about your goal, you don't start the process.

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).

God's desire for you is your holiness, which means you cannot get involved in fornication (sexual intercourse when you are not married). How do you accomplish that goal? You have to keep control of your body (your vessel) in a state of holiness and honor. You cannot give it over to passions of lust. Why? Because that leads to the fornication you are not supposed to be involved in.

You know that the desire for sex is ever present, but at times it hits you in waves -- sometimes even for no particular reason. That is just a part of being human. But for intercourse to take place, there must be a period of time when the skin is touched and stroked. That touching is the signal to the body to do the things necessary to prepare for intercourse. It doesn't matter whether you are thinking about the actual act or not. The mind follows along with romantic thoughts, but the body prepares on its own.

Using that food analogy, it is just like walking and smelling popcorn or some other favorite food cooking. You might not have been hungry, but suddenly the idea of food becomes interesting. Your mouth begins to water and your stomach starts to growl as the intestines kick into gear. You might have no intention of eating, but your body does as it is designed when given the proper stimulation.

Sex is no different; in fact, the body's response is stronger. Touching is needed to get to the point of intercourse, so the demand will be for more touching, and more intimate touching. The body will demand sex because you told it was available through touch.

That is why I started by saying there was an inconsistency in your note. You said you want to touch your girlfriend's breasts, and she wants you to touch them. You say sex is not involved, but at the same time you are struggling. With what are you wrestling? That is what you are overlooking.