Last updated on September 28, 2020
I’m 19 and in a relationship. This is my first relationship. Recently I talked with my girlfriend on how we are to conduct ourselves when we are together. We agreed that sex is off the table because both of us are Christians and fornication is a sin. She also thinks that we should not kiss or touch because she says it’s sin, so we only talk like normal people. I keep thinking of how I’m supposed to show my love to her because I’m getting bored in this relationship. What things does the Bible allow us to do so that we can show our love to each other? Should I stay in the relationship or terminate it?
What Is Not Allowed
First, let’s address the things you cannot do because they are sinful:
Having sex without marriage is the word porneia in the original Greek of the New Testament. It is translated as fornication, but many of the newer translations use “sexual immorality” or just plain “immorality” because the translators think “fornication” is too old of a word and not often used. Unfortunately, “sexual immorality” and “immorality” are too vague. They don’t capture the meaning of the word well. For a list of sexual terms in the Bible and their meaning, see Sex.
Now that we understand the meaning of the term, we can see whether it is bad. In this, we’ll let God answer:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10).
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
The word “bed” in Hebrews 13:4 is translating the Greek word koite. It literally means “bed” and it is where we get our English word “cot” from, but the Greeks used the word the same we say “Jack was sleeping was Jane.” You know that Jack and Jane were having sex. By the way, we get our word “coitus” from this same word. “Coitus” is the act of intercourse.
Now, this should lead to the question of why God said it is wrong. God doesn’t make arbitrary rules. The laws He gives are there to make life better. Therefore, there are things about having sex without marriage that makes life worse. For an answer see:
One of the problems when sex enters a relationship is that it dominates it. Everything revolves around sex and the relationship stops developing. Ultimately the relationship fall apart because sex is not enough to hold it together.
If you understand that you may not have intercourse before marriage, the next question is what about the things done prior to intercourse. Can you do anything so long as your penis doesn’t enter her vagina?
The first problem is restraint. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, “I didn’t mean for it to go this far,” or “I don’t know what happened,” or “It was an accident.” Such aren’t lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn’t have a healthy respect for the strength of his sexual instinct.
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 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 don’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 don’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 stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when things 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. 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.
Rules, then, are needed so that you don’t start down a sinful path. No touching each other’s private areas. No stroking skin to get you or her sexually aroused. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. “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).
With that comes not talking dirty or showing nude or semi-nude pictures to each other. “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7). You don’t stay pure by sexually arousing the other person.
What You Can Do
Generally, people confuse love and being sexual. They forget that for most people we love, sex has nothing to do with the relationship: parents, siblings, friends, etc. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
How do you express love for someone?
- By being patient with them when they are irritating.
- By finding and doing nice things for the other person.
- By being glad they are who they are and not thinking you deserve what they have.
- By being focused on the other person and not yourself.
- By being polite.
- By not annoying the other person or pushing their “hot buttons.”
- By not pushing the other person to sin
- By encouraging the other person to improve
- By being willing to forgive and forget past wrongs
See: Love is Different.
In other words, on a more everyday level, you:
- Take her places that you both enjoy.
- Leave notes for her to find that tell her she is special to you
- Give her small gifts that let her know you have been thinking about her
- Look at her when she speaks
- Ask for her opinion on important matters and give her reply serious consideration
- Find out what are her favorite foods, colors, songs, animals, etc.
- Do things together, just because it means you can spend time with her
- Tell other people what you like best about her
- Do a chore for her
- Give her a sincere compliment
- Smile and wink at her when you catch her eye across the room
- Hold her hand
- Go on walks together
- Pray with her
- Go out on a picnic
- Open the door for her
- When she is having a bad day, just listen
- Send her a random text saying you are thinking about her
- Do volunteer work together
The statement tells me that you have expectations about this relationship that are not reasonable. You are looking for entertainment and excitement. It tells me that you are focused on what you want and she is a secondary consideration. Perhaps she isn’t the right girl for you or you aren’t the right boy for her.