The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hello!

I attend a Baptist church and try to be like Jesus every day of my life! I love the Lord! One of my biggest struggles in life is sexual though sadly. I am still in high school and am going out with a beautiful, Christian girl.

I am asking this question because I honestly do not know. While we are kissing, would it be bad for her to see me without a shirt, since that is not a private area for men? I can totally see how her taking anything off and me anything else off would be wrong. So is this wrong?

Would appreciate your response,

God bless.


Answer

It is typically not considered sexual for a guy to be shirtless, so seeing you shirtless while you are mowing the lawn may not be considered sinful. I put this in conditionals because there are elements in the Christian community which do strongly object to a male being without a shirt. If you are among such people, that would be wrong simply because you would not want to cause offense needlessly. I've been looking for a way to definitively state whether a male being shirtless is approved or disapproved and so far I've come up empty handed. Therefore, I don't think a hard rule can be made universally one way or the other.

However, you didn't ask about her just seeing you shirtless, but being shirtless while kissing. Here we have a different problem because kissing when you don't have a shirt on involves touching of your bare skin. Like most guys, you already have problems keeping your erections and your mind under control. While a man's chest is not a private area, that doesn't mean it isn't sexually sensitive. The areas around your nipples and region just below your navel are sensitive to touch and will trigger arousal in you.

Just as Paul said, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1), the opposite is also true -- it is good for a woman not to touch a man. What young men don't realize is just how powerful sexual arousal is and how it interferes with your thinking and moral judgment. I can't begin to list how many times someone has wrote to me to say, "I don't know what happened. I didn't mean for it to go that far, but the next thing I knew we were having sex." Such isn't a lame excuse. They are the response of someone who didn't have a healthy respect for the strength of their sexual instincts.

Solomon points out the problem when he asked, "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn't change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, "But I love her!" Solomon's point is that your feelings toward your girlfriend won't change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.

Solomon also asked, "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of a hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn't mean to step on it, but you'll still be hurt because your intentions doesn't change what it is. Thus, the excuse, "But I didn't mean for it to go this far!" becomes an empty one because your intentions doesn't change your body's drive.

That is why Solomon concludes, "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start intentionally stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when thing go further than you wanted.

That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further than just taking off your shirt. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can't be legitimately completed.

It is because it is a sexually stirring thought to hold her without your shirt on that you need to stop yourself while you can still think straight.