How can Christians be intimate in relationships without engaging in sexual activity?

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By Sally Collins

For: Karma Sutra of Celibacy

Most mainstream Christian doctrines propose that people remain sexually pure until they are married, because God designed sex to be shared between a husband and wife.  You might argue that having sex without the benefit of marriage is necessary to keep a relationship together, and you might also argue that in the bible days people claimed their mates without a formal wedding. They had sex and that made their marriage real.

Christians are as individual as any other group of people. The belief systems of an individual Christian may not be the same as another Christian. Hence, some Christians may justify that having sex in their relationship solidifies their relationship. They may also justify they don’t need a piece of paper to prove their commitment to each other anymore than the people in bible times had marriage licenses to prove their dedication to each other.  Sex was also designed by God as the means for a man and woman to procreate and create a family. However, many people who engage in sexual activity prior to marriage will suffer from a breakup. This may be partly because sex is used for something that it was never intended. Sex is a gift that is freely given between a wife and husband. Sex is NOT a means to keep your partner with you. Sex was designed by God to be an expression of love between a husband and wife. It was never intended to be a tool to get a man or woman to fall in love with you. It was never designed to keep a partner interested in you.

We live in the 21st century, so why is it still preached that we should remain pure before marriage? We should remain sexually pure before marriage because premarital sex often erodes a relationship. There is often jealousy between a girlfriend and boyfriend when sex is involved. One of the partners is usually worried that the other is having sex with someone else. Oftentimes, unmarried people will argue that sex feels good, and unmarried people should not be sexually discriminated against. They feel that they have the same rights to have sex as married people do.

If unmarried people choose to be sexually pure until marriage, how can they develop intimacy?  You can develop intimacy by looking deep into your relationship partner.  I think of intimacy as “in-to-me-see.”  If you are in a hurry to get into a sexual relationship, you may just be getting to know the very surface of your partner. Sex can get in the way of really getting to know your partner. Whether you are a Christian or not, doesn’t really matter when it comes to premarital sex.  Sex is often used as a tool to keep the relationship together. Ever heard of make-up sex? You have a fight and sex makes everything alright again…until the next fight, and then it takes more make-up sex. If you truly get to know your partner on an intimate level, you won’t need sex to keep your relationship bond intact. You should feel secure enough in your relationship with your partner to be angry, and fight without fearing that your partner will stop loving you. You don’t need to have premarital sex to prove your love to the other person.

Even though God designed sex to be a sacred act between a husband and wife, we, oftentimes, tend to think differently about it. It has become normal in society to have sex after so many dates. Many decide to have sex after the 3rd date. Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of problems in a relationship, and when the relationship ends, the individuals start looking for another relationship mate and the cycle continues with sex after a set number of dates. Nowadays, it is normal for high school kids to have sex.  Many parents provide birth control instead of teaching chastity.

The bottom line is that sexual activity and pre-sexual activity is frowned upon before marriage.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 that if they cannot control themselves they should marry.  In other words Paul suggests that we should stay chaste until we are married.  Even pre-sexual activity is frowned upon by Christian doctrine; which would tell us that our intimacy should not be sexual in nature.

Again, we are human beings living in a time when sex is as common between unmarried people as shaking hands or saying hello is. Many of us who are Christians will push the envelope of non-sexual intimacy to be what we would consider foreplay.  For instance, many people (Christians and non-Christians) will qualify that masturbation and oral sex is not sexual activity, so it is okay.  No one can judge you for your beliefs about sex and intimacy in an unmarried relationship among Christians.  Only God can judge you, and God is the only one you will have to answer to.  You will have to decide for yourself what level of intimacy you want in your relationship.

Remember, that intimacy doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sex.  We tend to use the word intimacy interchangeably with sexual activity. It’s not, though.  Getting to know one another on a spiritual level is intimacy. Holding hands, laughing together, working together on a project can be intimate.  Loving a person unconditionally for the person he or she is can be very intimate.

There are no set rules to guide you how to be intimate in a Christian relationship. There is nothing in the bible about kissing and touching. The bottom line is that you will need to do what you feel is right between you, your partner and God.

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What Celibacy Does NOT Mean

Celibacy is not a practice to steer men away from Jezebels and shiksas. It’s not a road to personal, celestial perfection. It’s taking a beautiful and very meaningful act of human expression and defining it in its highest terms, and preserving it for its proper purpose. Continue reading →

Other Articles About Celibacy, Sex and Marriage:

What does Celibacy Mean?

Can You Be a Born Again Virgin?

Online Relationships: Intimacy Without Sex. Is it Possible?

Obama and Pope Francis: Gay Marriage, Priesthood and Homosexuality

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8 responses to “How can Christians be intimate in relationships without engaging in sexual activity?

  1. Interesting point of view. Pretty much what I felt when I met my wife. The feelings were mutual and we agreed to wait until after marriage to cohabitate.

  2. The question many who visit this post are asking, is: Can you cohabitate and still be celibate? Can you ‘go to second base?’ We need a lot more content on this topic. I’m trying to develop a consensus, and do some editing on Wikipedia where they cover this topic. Wanna help Mr. Craig?

  3. Pingback: What Celibacy Does NOT Mean | Bangari Content Gallery

  4. This article moved me to tears and I am so thankful for the guidence and knowledge.

  5. I’m grateful now I truly know the meaning of intimacy.
    Is it proper to receive kisses from an intimate friend?

  6. Yes! I think that as long as friends don’t do anything that would consummate a marriage, then they are not out of line with God’s expectations of them. here is a definition of “consummate” that I found online:

    make (a marriage or relationship) complete by having sexual intercourse.
    “his first wife refused to consummate their marriage”

    From a Christian perspective, only a marriage can be consummated. I don’t understand how this definition I found came to also include a relationship of another kind.

  7. I still don’t understand is oral sex wrong before marriage 😥 x

    • Just think about what is required to consummate a marriage: Sexual intercourse. A “kiss” doesn’t consummate a marriage. Touch and sexual compatibility is important in a thriving marriage. While exploring marriage possibilities with a potential spouse, I don’t see anything wrong with taking physical intimacy to a point short of sexual intercourse. That should be saved until after exchanging vows. Then, faithfulness to those vows are the best way to keep the marriage going strong, for life. Another difference, in my (experienced) opinion is that when you’re married, sex should happen (often) when one of the couple is in the mood…even if the other isn’t so much. Yet before you are married, both should try to limit the frequency of sexual contact / foreplay. I like to refer to the stuff celibate couples do as the “before and after.” I mentioned the before stuff as being important. The after stuff, i.e.; sleeping together, is also very important to determine compatibility. Lastly, Christian or not, oral sex and any other contact other than holding hands and clothes-on kissing is wrong unless you are of an age where it is not illegal (by secular authority) where you live. In the US, that age is 16 to 18. Hope that helps!

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