How do I keep myself sexually pure while I’m dating?
Sincere Christian in Ohio
Dear Sincere Christian,
God takes sex very seriously, and so should we. His design for sexual intimacy is meant to be shared only in the confines of the marriage covenant. But Satan wants us to believe a lie. We are bombarded with false messages in movies, TV shows, novels, billboards, magazines, and music saying sexual purity is unrealistic and promiscuity is harmless.
God created us to be sexual beings and enjoy the pleasures that the marriage relationship allows. But until such a time, how do we maintain self-control of these desires while we are single? How can we be sexually pure while dating?
Don’t think that it can’t happen to you.
Always be on guard. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you. No matter how spiritual you are, no matter how much you read Scripture and pray about staying pure, temptation affects everyone. Not taking appropriate precautions while dating will leave you wide open to vulnerability.
Date with purpose. Dating is an avenue toward marriage. Be purposeful with the individuals you choose to date. Maintain the mindset that you will date only potential mates. Enjoying friendships with the opposite gender in group settings is a great way to really get to know people. You do not need to use dating to discover if you have an interest in someone.
Set boundaries. When you do discover someone who has the qualities of a potential mate, be sure to set boundaries early in the relationship. Talk about and agree in advance on appropriate levels of affection. Physical contact is powerful. The more you stimulate your senses, the harder it is to turn back. Don’t flirt with temptation like the child who sees how close they can get their finger to the flame, inevitably gets too close, and gets burned.
Talk about and agree in advance on appropriate levels of affection.
Have accountability. Plan your dates and activities around other people. This doesn’t mean you can’t have alone time for private discussions, but be sure other people are around and available to keep you accountable. Lounging on a couch or snuggling together alone in a room provides an opportunity for temptation. Knowing you have eyes on you will allow you to concentrate on conversation rather than the physical connection. We often keep the things we treasure under lock and key for safety. Treasure your purity!
When temptation comes, RUN. Whenever temptation rears its head, don’t stick around and try to fight it. RUN! By taking time to linger and think about it at the moment, you open yourself up to making wrong choices. Remove any source of temptation from your relationship. Whether it is the movies you watch together or the people you hang out with, if you know it influences you towards temptation, remove it.
Sexual intimacy outside of marriage carries a huge cost.
Realize the cost. Participating in sexual intimacy outside of marriage carries a huge cost. Not only do you create an opportunity for life-changing ramifications like disease and pregnancy, but you rob yourself and your future spouse the joy and excitement that comes with the connection and oneness sex brings to a marriage. Sex forms an intense bond physically, emotionally, and mentally. When you create that deep bond with someone other than your spouse, you set yourself up for brokenness, heartache, and pain. What a gift purity brings to the marriage bed without the fear or shame from previous encounters.
Put in place an action plan using accountability that will safeguard your relationship from sexual temptation. Do not walk the purity road alone.
Yours in accountability,
“Ask Ali” is an op-ed column answering common questions about accountability and related topics.