How far can you go before you get married?

Last updated on January 2, 2021



I have a question.  I have a girlfriend. We love each other very much and one day we are looking forward to married within two years.  My question is, how far is it okay to go with the one you love before marriage without lust but for love for each other?  We both are Christians and want to do what’s right.  I’ve heard about petting is wrong before marriage, does that include the woman’s and man’s chest as well?  Please let me know when you can. 


Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity” (I Timothy 5:1-2).

The answer doesn’t change whether you plan to get married or not. You should treat all women with the same respect that you would treat your own sister or which you would expect another man to treat your sister.

The danger which comes as you become more serious about marrying a young woman is that you let down your guard and allow yourself more freedom. One act then leads to another because we look back and decide that nothing “bad” happened before so nothing “bad” is likely to happen if we go a bit further. Thus gradually, step-by-step we inch our way toward whatever imaginary line we have placed against going too far.

Which then leads to a second danger, people have a tendency to redefine inconvenient truths. You are already doing this when you state that the reason you are fondling your girlfriend is not out of lust but out of love. Take a look at I Corinthians 13:4-8 and tell me where fondling appears in this definition of love?

The reason you are willing to fondle her and she is willing to let you fondle her is because you both have love, specifically trust, and a strong sexual attraction to each other. Perhaps I can grant you that you haven’t yet gone so far that you haven’t started seriously considering having sex before marriage. But the reason you are doing this isn’t because of love but because both of you find such touches sexually stimulating.

One of the mistakes people make is assuming that another person’s reaction to sexual situations is the same as their own. There are many areas of the human body that respond with sexual pleasure from touch. It isn’t just the genitals. Most of these areas are the same between men and woman, but amount of sensitivity is not the same in each area. One of the primary reasons women keep their breasts covered is because they are highly sensitive to touch. While your chest and specifically your nipples are sexually sensitive to touch, it is not nearly as sensitive as a woman’s breast.

God designed your body to respond sexually to certain touches. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19). Your fountain is your penis, which responds with pleasure to touch just as a woman’s breasts respond with pleasure to touch as well as giving her husband pleasure. But these pleasures belong in a marriage where the husband and wife can act on them and enjoy them to their fullest. To stimulate without action would be equivalent to some putting a cookie in your mouth and saying, “Don’t chew or swallow.” You and I know you will eventually give in and the same is true about sexual touching — eventually, you will give in to further sexual acts.

That is why Paul stated, “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). He isn’t talking about casual touching, such as the holding of hands; he is talking about touches that are sexually stimulating because he then states that such can lead to fornication, so men and women ought to marry to avoid such sins.

For men, I often tell them that they can realize when they are being sexually stimulated by just paying attention to their bodies. If you are getting an erection or your Cowper’s glands are producing pre-ejaculate fluid, you need to step back and think about what you are doing. Because once a man is aroused, he doesn’t think or reason well.



Thank you so much for your advice. It has helped me out with all my questions and even more. Now I can take this information and talk to my girlfriend about it.


You’re welcome. I’m glad it helped.