Some days, I feel like I’ve been married forever – I don’t mean that in a bad way. After you’ve been married for a while, it’s easy to forget what life was like before you were someone’s husband or wife. However, when I think back to my dating days, I quickly remember the frustrations. Sweet, older people would advise me about not kissing my boyfriends. Mom would tell me how inappropriate it was to hug boys (she was right, but I hated hearing it!). My parents and grandparents generations would say, “Be careful! Guard your heart!” Whereas, my generation would say, “Don’t get caught!” or “What’s wrong with you?”
Naturally, I wanted to be close to boyfriends. And to make the situations just a little bit more aggravating, I’m a hugger! I love hugs! Some days, Eric probably thinks I’m going to squeeze him in half. So, at any given time my body would be driving me toward my boyfriend like a powerful magnet, but my brain was full of people quoting Scripture and telling me to stop. I’m not going to lie. It was awful. At times, it didn’t seem worth it to wait. Perhaps the most frustrating part of it all was that I did not know exactly where my physical boundaries were.
Those couples who choose not to kiss until their wedding day have my utmost respect (as long as they abstain out of a desire to please God and not out of legalism). That was never my conviction, but I knew it was wrong to go much further. And kissing… what does that exactly mean? Are only pecks on the cheek acceptable? What about pecks on the mouth? Was there something wrong with sustained kissing? Was French kissing okay as long as you weren’t simultaneously caressing each other with your hands? Was it even possible to French kiss without caressing each other?
Picture Your Future Spouse
Karlyn Hillerstrom brought an excellent personal side to The Intimacy Cover-Up. I deeply appreciate her willingness to be transparent about her struggles and the lessons she’s learned. She offered two pieces of advice regarding knowing where to draw the physical boundary that really stood out to me.
- First, she said to picture yourself married to someone other than your current boyfriend or girlfriend, and then picture telling him or her all the physical lines you crossed with the guy or girl you’re dating now. If you don’t marry your current boyfriend or girlfriend, would you be ashamed to admit the behavior you’re contemplating (e.g., french kissing, heavy petting, oral sex, intercourse, etc.) to your future spouse? If you wouldn’t be comfortable admitting what you’re about to do to your future husband or wife, that’s a good indicator that you shouldn’t do it at all. She said, “You’re going to want to love that person with everything you have; not everything you have left.”
Take some time and think about this concept. You’ve met the love of your life. You’re planning your wedding. You’re in pre-engagement or premarital counseling and your counselor says… “Your homework for this week is to have the ‘past’ talk.”
At that point, you will have to look your soon-to-be husband or wife in the eyes (or stare at the floor) and tell him or her how far you’ve gone physically with other people. After all, he or she has a right to know before the wedding. If you do cross this physical boundary you’re considering now, will you feel sad and ashamed to have to confess it to your future fiancé or fiancée? This is a hard question to think about in the passion of the moment, so it’s important to have physical boundary lines drawn before you find yourself in a potentially (or actual) compromising situation.
Can I Pray?
This next piece of advice I absolutely loved! In regards to her own physical boundaries, Karlyn Hillerstrom said:
- Second, “If I can’t pray while I’m doing it, I shouldn’t be doing it.”
Wow. That is a test that will make finding your boundaries much clearer. Anything which would hinder your prayer life is sin. It may be hard to picture this before marriage, but married couples can pray while they’re enjoying their physical relationship. Some do and some don’t, but they can because what they are doing is pleasing in the sight of God. Take those same couples and rewind to the night before their weddings. If they had chosen to have sex that night, they could not have successfully prayed while having sex. That sin would have kept them separated from God until they repented.
So, the next time you are trying to determine your physical boundary, consider if you could go before God in prayer with a pure heart while doing it. “Could I pray while holding hands? Yes.” Ok, next. “Could I pray while hugging my boyfriend or girlfriend? Maybe? If it was a friendly hug, yes. If it was a seductive hug, no.” Moving on. “Could I pray while kissing my boyfriend or girlfriend? Yes. French Kissing? No, probably not.” Your convictions may be stronger than your boyfriend or girlfriend’s convictions. As long as there is evidence that he or she loves God and is seeking after righteousness, that’s okay. However, if he or she tries to coax you past your boundary, that’s a neon sign telling you it is time to move on. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries in this area is not worth your time and future relationship.
If you couldn’t tell, over the past week I absolutely loved covering The Intimacy Cover-Up and I would recommend it to anyone. If you are single, you can gain a lot from it. If you are married, it can help answer questions about your past relationships and current relationship. It’s an incredible book to give to young people. It gets down to the nitty gritty and it’s all done in good taste!
Have you struggled to find the physical boundary in your relationship?