I Want to Slow Down. He Doesn't.
Q. My boyfriend and I have been together awhile and we really love each other. We are both Christians, and are trying to build our relationship as God would want it.
As hard as we try, we seem to have one disagreement we can't resolve. We both strongly believe in abstinence until marriage. But we have done little things physically that I wish we hadn't.
But my boyfriend says couples in a relationship like ours shouldn't be afraid to be a little bit physical, because it's their way of expressing love for one another. He does respect me when I tell him to back off, because he doesn't want to hurt me. But he always tries again. We need Christian advice. I know couples express themselves physically to show love, but for me, right now, it doesn't seem right. Please help us understand how physical a serious dating relationship should be.
A. You don't mention exactly what you've done physically, but the details don't really matter. The important fact is that you're not comfortable continuing to do them. They don't feel right to you. That's all the information anybody needs. Your boyfriend's argument is that he's expressing his love to you. He needs to understand this: love means, among other things, respecting someone else's feelings. Actually, I doubt love has anything to do with your boyfriend's side of this. He may love you, but that's not what's pushing him to "try, try again." It's lust—the powerful desire for sex. He's a good illustration of why "little" things aren't as innocent as they seem. There's a strong drive behind them, which can get out of hand. I think he needs to come to terms with what's driving his interest. Love that's mixed up with lust can be dangerous.
The Bible doesn't give specific guidelines for the physical part of a serious relationship, other than abstinence from sex before marriage. Some general principles certainly apply, though. Whatever you do should be truly loving and respectful. Using each other for pleasure is neither of those. your physical relationship should be decent, above question, showing great respect for the privacy and integrity of each person's body. One way to think of this is to ask yourselves whether you would feel any regret for what you've done if you broke up. How would you feel about telling a future dating partner (or spouse)?
I recommend that you limit yourself to kissing. It's sweet, loving, and expressive. If you're not going to have sex, you have to stop somewhere, and it's much easier, and less frustrating, to stop at kissing than somewhere further along. Once you establish the sexual ground rules, you'll be able to spend less time discussing the physical part of your relationship, and more time on the emotional and spiritual parts. If you stick to kissing, I doubt you'll ever regret it.
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