How much sexual stuff is too much?

Last updated on September 14, 2020


Hello sir,

I was searching for a good place to get wise advice. I think I found it.

I am 18 years old and my girlfriend is seventeen. We firmly intend to save sex for marriage because that makes it all the better because there are no worries involved. However, while I do want to help her, I find myself frustrated when we don’t do a certain amount of stuff.

I have been working on quitting masturbating as well. I used to do it on a very regular basis. But I feel so close to her when we do stuff. So my big question is how much is too much?

She and I seem to disagree on this and the problem is I think about it later than she does. However, for the most part, I respect her decision.

We have been dating for several years. This last time we’ve been together over a year. I am positive she is the one and she is sure I am for her because we both tried talking to other people, and I even shamefully dated other people when we broke up. The whole time though I was thinking of her and more than a few times stayed up late at night when she wasn’t dating me. I feel like how long we have been dating means we should be able to go pretty far.

I saw your quote from Corinthians that says if the fire is burning too intensely it is better to be married. Is this something I should talk to her mother about? I love her like I never thought I could love anyone. So my question should I talk to her mom about an early wedding or what do you think is the right amount for us to do?


I’m going to my best to answer your question, but I find myself having to guess at what you mean by “do a certain amount of stuff” and “we should be able to go pretty far.” Typically when someone hesitates to put their thoughts into words, it means that they know what they want is wrong, but as long as they don’t express it, well, it can’t be that bad. This is one of the reasons I choose to be plain-spoken and direct. I don’t want you thinking I’m giving permission because you and I had a disconnect about what we were talking about.

I’m gathering that you are pushing for additional sexual behaviors and she is has been putting the breaks on. So let’s back up to talk about what unmarried people should not be involved in and why. You understand that you should not have sex before marriage, but why?

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 were 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 falls 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.

Yes, you feel close to her when your sexual passion is aroused. Instinct drives you to focus on her and your feelings. But at this point in time, your focus should be on your friendship. The sexual stuff will come after you commit yourself in marriage to her.

Now a part of your problem is that your desire for sex rises as your seminal vesicles fill up. The longer you go between ejaculations, the stronger your desire. So while you are trying to behave yourself, your body is fighting you because it is getting desperate for relief from the built-up semen. It might sound odd, but until you get married, you are better off masturbating to keep yourself in control. Now that doesn’t mean you can look at pornography or dwell on what having sex with your girlfriend is like while you are masturbating, those things are wrong because of lust. “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). Treat your urge like your need to use the toilet. When it gets strong, trigger an ejaculation manually without thinking of anything in particular, and then go on with life. If you find you can’t do it, wait another day and it won’t be as difficult. I would like you to read a number of answers I’ve given in the past and look up all the Bible references and read them for yourself.


I’m not sure where it is but I know the Bible says that is is better to cast your seed in the belly of a harlot than to cast it on the ground. Also, sex is made to be uniting and procreative. From my understanding that would make masturbation bad because of its focus on self and self-gratification. If I do things with her (dry sex, touching, maybe even oral) I believe that would be less sinful because at least it is unintuitive. Also, we have done very well controlling ourselves. We have never had sex. I have never seen her naked. And most of the time I never feel bad. And I’ve always thought that as long as I can still keep in my mind I will not have sex till I am married it is fine. When I masturbate I feel extreme guilt and feel immediately like I shouldn’t have done it.


The problem is that such a statement does not exist in the Bible, thus you are drawing a conclusion from a non-existent idea that is actually contrary to the teachings of God.

You claim that sex is to be a uniting and procreative, yet you do dry sex and oral sex which is neither and thus are not consistent even with your own views. You say that masturbation is being focused on self and self-gratification yet isn’t that what you are involved in when you have your girlfriend simulates you to orgasm? “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (I Corinthians 6:18). Sex outside of marriage, including dry sex and oral sex, are acts of self-gratification and sins against one’s self, even when another person is involved.

You state that you’ve never seen your girlfriend naked, but because of what you said you have been involved in, she has seen you naked. Does that make it any better? Why do you give yourself different rules than your girlfriend?

What you are saying is that you can behave lewdly with your girlfriend and think lustful thoughts about her, and somehow imagine that this is all right with God. Fornication isn’t the only sin to be avoided. “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).

There is no such thing as a lesser sin or an acceptable sin. That was Jesus’ point: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Desiring and imagining putting your penis in a woman is just as wrong as the actual act. It doesn’t take the physical doing to cause sin. Desiring to sin is just as bad. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23).

I’m not arguing that you should masturbate. I merely point out that masturbation, by itself, is not called sinful in the Bible. I’m also pointing out that your substitutions for it are sinful as per God’s Word. If anything, you are arguing that it is acceptable to replace one sin with another because it doesn’t bother your conscience to sin in some ways. Because you are making moral choices based on your feelings and not God’s teachings, you have, in reality, made yourself the judge and lawgiver instead of God. And perhaps saddest of all is that in claiming to avoid fornication because you didn’t put your penis in her vagina, you commit fornication as you put your penis in her mouth.


First off, I want to ask if I offended you? Your tone seemed to change and I apologize if I did. I simply have to understand in order to put things into practice.

But if sex is not meant to be procreative and unitive then please explain what it is? Also I said and maybe even oral because currently I am not sure on how I feel about that one.

Also after all of the high school dating and being in a deep state of love how are we not supposed to participate in all three forms of love. Agape, philio, and (I forgot this one in Greek but the physical sexual kind). If it weren’t for age and money I would marry her now. However, I cannot. I have already promised her my love and we both work each other into our lives. Also if I can still absolutely tell her no to sex and we can deny sex, how are we committing lust when we don’t want to have sex.


I was not offended, but it appears I misunderstood your second note to be saying that you were involved in humping, oral sex, and the like. I see now that you have been thinking about asking her to do these things with you and not that you’ve already done them. The reason I came across strongly is that I always take a hard stance against sins of all forms, especially when someone tries to justify sin.

Sex is meant to be procreative. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). It does unite the man and woman involved in it. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). But it is also meant to be fun. “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 1:18-19). I suspect that the disconnect is that masturbation isn’t really sex when it doesn’t involve anyone else, just as a wet dream isn’t sex. There are sexual feelings involved in both but not sexual actions directed toward another person.

Since you are not married, you are not to be involved in sex with your girlfriend. That means all forms of sex: intercourse, oral, anal, or hand jobs.

Love and sex are independent concepts. Read through the descriptions of love:

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).

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).

Neither description talks about sex. I Corinthians talks about the behavior of love and the Song of Solomon discusses the passion of love, but sex does not have to be present for two people to love each other. Now because two people love each other, they will typically get married and in marriage one way they express their love is with sex. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). But the sex is not love nor does it create love.

You and your girlfriend are in love. But the physical expression of love through sex cannot be a part of your lives until you make a permanent commitment to each other through the marriage vows. The reason is simple. Sex is procreative. Children typically result from sex. You don’t go conceiving children until after the marriage and family has been established. Sex is unifying, but you don’t try creating a unity without a foundation to support it. Sex will enhance your unity, but it cannot truly form a unity by itself. And sex is fun when you don’t have to worry about getting caught or getting her pregnant.

In regards to lust, let me illustrate it this way: Hunger is a desire — it is neither right nor wrong. Temptation is when you are in the convenience store and see a candy bar, but realize you don’t have enough money to pay for it. Lust is when you tell yourself that the store can afford to lose some items and that they are expecting some loss, or telling yourself that you could pocket it now and pay for it later and you accept that these are adequate justification to steal. Sin is when you walk out with the candy bar without paying for it. Licentiousness is when you think it is fun to take things off the shelf even though you have adequate money to pay for it. And from there it is a short step to spiritual death.

To put this in sexual terms, your desire for sex is neither right nor wrong, it is just the way your body works. Temptation is when you see your girlfriend and want to strip down, but realize that you aren’t married yet. Lust is when you start telling yourself things like “We’re going to get married anyway” or “We’ll make out, but I won’t put my penis in her” or “Oral sex isn’t as bad as intercourse.” In each, there is an attempt to justify sin or to make it out to be not all that bad. Sin is when you actually do things that are not right, such as sexual touching, lewd behavior, or sexual acts. Licentiousness is when you are no longer bothered by the fact that you are not married — as soon as you are alone with your girlfriend, you strip down and get involved in sex. You don’t care what anyone else thinks because you feel you have a right to your girlfriend’s body. And from there it is a short step to spiritual death.