You thought masturbation might be a gray area?
I don’t think it gets much grayer than where to draw the line when you’re dating.
It’s easy to draw the line when you’re single. Easier still to draw the line when you’re married (you know who your future husband is). Dating, on the other hand, opens up its own little gray universe with little gray planets.
- How do you draw the line when you’re dating?
- How do you know you’re ready to date?
- When should we kiss?
- Should we kiss?
- Should we be alone?
Ready? I don’t have an answer. I have ideas, but I have no concrete answer. I can’t walk into your life and tell you what you should do. I can tell you what you shouldn’t do, but I can’t tell you if you’re ready to date. I can’t tell you if you’re ready for marriage. I can’t even give you five surefire signs that you are ready.
All I can give you is one firm command: Seek God first.
We like to get obsessed with ‘the line.’ Just the other day I picked up a book on purity written over 40 years ago. The big thing back then was petting. That’s the line everyone was pushing. Was it OK to touch each other ‘there’ if you didn’t take off your clothes and didn’t do anything more. What was so wrong with touching?
Out of that came the ‘six inch rule’ and ‘Bible between’ ideas that many conservative churches still use today. It’s easy to know right and wrong when you draw a line in big bold marker all around your body. Well, then, what happens to chivalry? What if a guy offers his arm to a lady? What if he guides her through the doorway by touching the small of her back? What if he grabs her hand to help her up stairs? Now, we have “Ok” touching, but all other touching is not ok. So the nice circle of personal space starts to morph into an amoeba-shaped smear, and the whole thing turns into a big gray mess.
We’ve got the same problem now, it just has nothing to do with petting. In fact, I haven’t even heard that term used in a long time. Now we struggle with things like sexting, watching pornography, and making out, which are all such ‘gray’ areas.
But they wouldn’t be gray areas if we were drawing the right lines in the first place.
We need to put Christ at the center of our lines. He has drawn a very clear circle around Himself. If you doubt that, look at all the commands He gives us. Who do they focus on? Here’s a hint: not us. They are focused on Him. Everything good and holy in our lives focuses on Him, not us.
Our lines should not be drawn around forbidden actions. It’s the same problem Eve got wrapped into. She was focused on the one thing she could not have. When we do that, we start to climb the fence and peek over the edge and wonder if the grass really is greener.
We have done the same thing when it comes to sexuality. We have put a big electric fence around it and said, “no!” So, when boy meets girl and the two start to like each other, they get drawn toward sexuality. It’s natural. That’s the way it is supposed to be. Well, then the little fenced off area intrigues them, and they approach the fence wondering how close they can get before they get zapped.
We have lost the beauty that comes from a man and woman seeking God first and striving to honor Him. When that is the priority, the sexuality is easier to tame, not because it is ‘bad’ but because it doesn’t honor God right now. Think about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. When she tempted him, he said no, not because of her husband but because he did not want to sin against God.
When God is in His place, our sexuality will tend to stay where it belongs too.
That applies to our relationships too. Really, a good rule of thumb is, “If you have to ask, it’s probably wrong.” For other areas that might be more neutral (ie. can we hold hands? should we go out alone?), ask yourself why you are asking. Why do you want to hold hands? Why do you want to be alone? From your answer, determine your focus.
Are you focusing on God, or are you trying to peek over the fence?
For those of you wondering how to know when you’re ready? Take heart- you’re next.2