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How far is too far? - NEW

The Bible reveals that God's standard is even higher than abstinence, and that His plan offers peace, contentment, a victorious life for singles of all ages, and fulfillment for those who eventually marry.

Abstinence until marriage is a noble goal. And yet, every "abstainer" must answer one crucial question: "Where will I draw the line?" How much physical contact is acceptable: Hand-holding? Kissing? Touching? Far too many adults - and even teens and preteens - set their limits at intercourse and allow a Pandora's box of sexual sin, which leaves them drowning in a cesspool of guilt, disease, and shame.

The Scriptures clearly and repeatedly describe the one true God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all who dwell therein, and, yes, even the Creator of sex. Physical intimacy between a man and his wife is celebrated in the Bible, most notably in Proverbs 5:18-20 and Song of Solomon.  Sadly, as with many scriptures, people have erroneously taken these verses out of context and boiled them down to the motto: "no sex until marriage," defining "sex" as intercourse. This is akin to approaching a cliff above a treacherous chasm to see how close to the edge you can stand without falling off.

The Purity Principle

A return to the Biblical text reveals that God's standard is in fact higher than abstinence, and that His plan offers peace, contentment, a victorious life for singles of all ages, and fulfillment for those who eventually marry.

Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will put an end to them together. But the body is not for the desires of the flesh, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: And God who made the Lord Jesus come back from the dead will do the same for us by his power.
Do you not see that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? how then may I take what is a part of the body of Christ and make it a part of the body of a loose woman? such a thing may not be.
Or do you not see that he who is joined to a loose woman is one body with her? for God has said, The two of them will become one flesh.
But he who is united to the Lord is one spirit.
Keep away from the desires of the flesh. Every sin which a man does is outside of the body; but he who goes after the desires of the flesh does evil to his body.
Or are you not conscious that your body is a house for the Holy Spirit which is in you, and which has been given to you by God? and you are not the owners of yourselves;
For a payment has been made for you: let God be honored in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:13-20

You have knowledge that it was said, You may not have connection with another man's wife:
But I say to you that everyone whose eyes are turned on a woman with desire has had connection with her in his heart.
And if your right eye is a cause of trouble to you, take it out and put it away from you; because it is better to undergo the loss of one part, than for all your body to go into hell.
And if your right hand is a cause of trouble to you, let it be cut off and put it away from you; because it is better to undergo the loss of one part, than for all your body to go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

For the purpose of God for you is this: that you may be holy, and may keep yourselves from the desires of the flesh;
So that every one of you may keep his body holy and in honor;
Not in the passion of evil desires, like the Gentiles, who have no knowledge of God;
And that no man may make attempts to get the better of his brother in business: for the Lord is the judge in all these things, as we said to you before and gave witness.
Because it is God's purpose that our way of life may be not unclean but holy.
Whoever, then, goes against this word, goes against not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

Let it then be your desire to be like God, as well-loved children;
And be living in love, even as Christ had love for you, and gave himself up for us, an offering to God for a perfume of a sweet smell.
But evil acts of the flesh and all unclean things, or desire for others' property, let it not even be named among you, as is right for saints;
And let there be no low behavior, or foolish talk, or words said in sport, which are not right, but in place of them the giving of praise.
Being certain of this, that no man who gives way to the passions of the flesh, no unclean person, or one who has desire for the property of others, or who gives worship to images, has any heritage in the kingdom of Christ and God. Ephesians 5:1-5

The Bottom Line

The modern concept of abstinence gives a false sense of security. An abstainer can easily excuse a plethora of sexual activity by claiming self-righteousness: "At least I'm not as bad as so-and-so who has sex all the time!" Intercourse is not alone in the long list of sexual sins, and "lesser" forms of contact still leave many people suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. True purity begins in the heart and flows through all of a person's thoughts, conversations, and actions. People who belong to Jesus Christ should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith, gentle behavior, control over desires: against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have put to death on the cross the flesh with its passions and its evil desires. If we are living by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us be guided. Galatians 5:22-23

By embracing God's plan of salvation and being transformed by regular study of His Word, you will exchange the false lures of this world for eternal peace and purpose. This principle is found in the Apostle Paul's letter to Christians in Rome:

For this reason I make request to you, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you will give your bodies as a living offering, holy, pleasing to God, which is the worship it is right for you to give him. And let not your behavior be like that of this world, but be changed and made new in mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God. Romans 12:1-2

What Should I Do? A Plan of Action

Single and Engaged Adults

While most talk of abstinence is directed towards teenagers, God's standard holds true for people of all ages. sexual purity starts with you. Recognize the gap between your way of life and the Way set forth in the Bible. Jesus Christ promises to embrace anyone who sincerely repents and accepts His offer of salvation and eternal life:

See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man's ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Once you are His disciple, He grants you access to a Helper: the Holy Spirit, who will strengthen and enable you the live the life God intended for you:

And I will make prayer to the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you for ever,
Even the Spirit of true knowledge. That Spirit the world is not able to take to its heart because it sees him not and has no knowledge of him: but you have knowledge of him, because he is ever with you and will be in you.
I will not let you be without a friend: I am coming to you. John 14:16-18

If you are involved in a sinful relationship, work with your significant other to make changes. Seek an accountability partner who will encourage you to uphold right standards. If both of you are not fully committed to obeying God's commands regarding the relationship, it is better that you walk away from it. Please know that the pain of "lost love" cannot compare to the joy of walking with the Holy One who loves you with a perfect, everlasting love.

I have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33


I implore every parent to instill the value of purity in their sons and daughters. It is never early to start: the youngest children learn first by the example set by their mother and father. Elementary-age children must be equipped to face the rampant sexuality around them: from seductive magazine covers in the grocery store, to the suggestive poses of larger-than-life models displayed in malls and along highways. You must also teach them how to respond as their peers begin to experiment sexually at startlingly young ages. Your mission should be to limit your child's access to sexual images and activities, and to teach them to rightly handle such situations when they arise outside of your control.

As your children enter adolescence, you will have to continue building on the foundation of sexual purity. Resources like Passport to Purity will guide you as you mentor your children. While early is better, it's never too late to begin instilling the value of sexual purity in your children. Your sons and daughters will continue to face temptations: prom season, college life, pornography, and much more. Challenge them to embrace purity throughout their single years and to commit to their marriages.

The fourth Chapter of Proverbs contains a father's instructions to his child, and will be a helpful model to you as you instill godly values in your children.

Do not go in the road of sinners, or be walking in the way of evil men.
Keep far from it, do not go near; be turned from it, and go on your way.
My son, give attention to my words; let your ear be turned to my sayings.
Let them not go from your eyes; keep them deep in your heart.
For they are life to him who gets them, and strength to all his flesh.
And keep watch over your heart with all care; so you will have life.
Put away from you an evil tongue, and let false lips be far from you.
Keep your eyes on what is in front of you, looking straight before you.
Keep a watch on your behavior; let all your ways be rightly ordered.
Let there be no turning to the right or to the left, keep your feet from evil. Proverbs 4:14-27

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