Get a group of Christian teens together and sooner or later the subject of all things physical prior to marriage is going to surface . . . What should you tell them?
“How far should we go?” or “Is kissing okay?”
Here’s what’s not okay when it comes to the subject of premarital anything: Parents who don’t talk to their teens about the subject.
The sad reality of many Christian kids is that for the most part, they pick up what they know the same way they pick up the common cold: casual contact. Christian parents are notorious for avoiding the subject of sex, in general, and what’s appropriate physical behavior for Christian young people, in particular.
Are you uncomfortable talking with your kids about their natural (God-given!) interest in sexuality? Get comfortable. Ask God to help you get over it because you are the primary source from whom God intended your children to learn what they need to know.
Before trying to answer the question of what is appropriate, there is another question that is more fundamental to this conversation. There’s something we need to settle first.
Are we going to be biblical Christians, or are we going to consult our own reasoning and feelings first, extrapolating from them what we should teach our children?
If we are to be biblical Christians we must conform our lives to what the Bible says, regardless of where our feelings and human reasoning would take us.
Does God require faithfulness and purity in marriage? It’s not that complicated. We don’t need to scratch our heads trying to discern whether or not God wants us kissing someone else’s husband or wife. Marriage is sacred and it is, according to the Bible, between a husband and wife.
There’s a special word for people who kiss (or even fantasize about kissing) someone else’s spouse: Adulterer.
No, God’s not in favor of that. Remember The Big 10 – the Ten Commandments?
You Shall Not Commit Adultery Exodus 20:14
When speaking with Christian singles, I like to ask this question. The response is always the same . . . Are you serious? Of course that’s wrong! That’s being unfaithful to your spouse.
And, that’s my cue for Question #2 . . .
If it is wrong to kiss someone else’s spouse, is it okay to kiss someone else’s spouse before they are married?
God would have His children be faithful to their spouses all the days of their lives. Not just after they get married. This exact statement is made in Proverbs 31:11, 12 The heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
All the days . . . not just the days following marriage.
We should challenge our young people with these words and ask them the question: Are you being faithful to your future husband/wife, today?
The time to start building trust with one’s spouse isn’t after multiple relationships in the local youth group, more relationships in the college group, and then on to marriage.
We are called to do good to our spouses all the days of our lives.
Give Your Young People a Vision of Their Future Spouse
Give your young people (we start very early in our home) a vision of their future spouse, and how they can start being faithful, today, with how they live and interact with others.
Kissing and touching another person is physically gratifying – something God is highly in favor of . . . in marriage. See Song of Songs.
But, there is simply no biblical basis for physically gratifying yourself with someone who isn’t your spouse. For those who wish to make the argument that kissing and touching outside of marriage are no big deal, they must do so without the Scriptures, consulting their own reasoning. No serious believer can take this approach. The Bible informs Christians how to live.
I’m reminded of a well-known unmarried couple at a prominent, very conservative Christian college. They make great cause defending their studying of each other’s anatomy using the braille system. Passionate kissing? No problem. It’s perfectly fine, just an individual choice, like which toothpaste you prefer. Prior to their current squeeze, both young man and woman have had multiple similar relationships.
When I first heard of them, they were quite taken with each other. Marriage was definitely in the works. Next update had them going separate ways. It just wasn’t working out (where was God leading next?). Recently I’ve heard they are back together but not sure if they will get married.
But What if We’re Going to Get Married?
These well-educated, untaught, foolish young people are poster children for why, unless you’ve pledged your lives to each other, before God, you shouldn’t be physically involved. The Christian world is littered with relationships where marriage was “certain” and the young people involved, living in this narrative, gave themselves to each other to one degree or another, only to part ways and marry someone else.
We too lightly pass over God’s standard for every true child of His.
But as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all your conduct.
1 Peter 1:15
Kissing and touching your spouse is holy conduct. Kissing and touching others isn’t. Taking what belongs to someone else is always wrong. Giving what belongs to your spouse, present or future, to someone else is also wrong.
The only rule of thumb necessary is: Be faithful to your spouse before you meet him/her and after you’re married to him/her.
Christian young people who are taught and live by this biblical principle will never regret it.
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Matt Jacobson is the founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).