Godly Dating Principle #7: Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” ~Proverbs 25:28
A lot of times Christian couples have the desire and intent to keep their relationship pure, but fail due to one thing: lack of boundaries. Boundaries, my friend, are the ‘walls’ we all need to keep us on track and to practice self-control in our relationships.
You might be saying, “Yeah, but that’s no fun. Don’t boundaries stifle romance?” I don’t think so. Boundaries help keep the romance alive in a healthy and holy way that honors God in the process. God’s blessings and abundant fruits rest on the relationship that seeks to remain pure until God brings them to the marriage bed.
As I mentioned last week, I was formerly in a relationship that progressed quickly and crossed some lines physically. Until God convicted me that what we were doing was not pleasing to Him, I didn’t understand the importance of setting boundaries. In fact, I had never heard of such a thing. I had a studio apartment that we had gotten in the habit of ‘hanging out’ at. This would often turn into late nights and let me tell you, nothing holy can come from two tired people in a dark room on a bed. Period. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, but I just didn’t realize at the time that ‘setting boundaries’ were an option.
All a boundary does is help you to avoid those settings and situations that are going to lure you into temptation and ‘break down the walls’ of self control, as Proverbs 25:38 so wisely states (above). In that relationship I was in, we had to set a boundary that we would not hang out at night in my apartment anymore. After going on dates or doing fun things together, he would drop me off at my door and we would end things there. It was hard at first, but eventually we realized the benefits: we became more intentional in our hang out time because we knew it wasn’t going to drag out into the early hours of the morning and we both felt more at peace over all because there was no longer the guilt of ‘crossing lines’ that we had felt before.
I share this story because it highlights our naivety in thinking we can exercise self-control in any environment. But putting ourselves in dark, isolated, comfortable places is just setting the stage for temptation and eventual slip- ups into sin. Once you go down that road, it is very hard to turn around and back up. That is why we must know ourselves, where our sexual prowess is triggered and how we can steer clear from putting ourselves in situations that are going to make it nearly impossible to say no.
If two people decide to enter into a dating relationship and are committed to upholding God’s standard of holiness (see Principle #6), setting up boundaries is absolutely key. Without them, well good luck, for our flesh is weak! Some examples of good boundaries to set might be:
- No laying down on a bed together
- Keep the lights on when watching a movie
- No heavy petting or removal of clothing
- Holding hands, hugs and kissing permissible
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a legalistic form of dating. Rather, learn to see it as plain wisdom in aiding you in your heartfelt desire to live out your relationship rightly before God. Nor should boundaries be viewed as a ‘mood killer’, but a holy booster, paving the way for God’s goodness, favor and grace to bloom and blossom in your dating relationship. I have found that limiting the sexual factor in the dating phase actually opens the door to the following benefits:
- Allows couples to get to know a person on a new and deeper level.
- Forces couples to be more creative in deciding how to spend time together.
- Encourages couples to incorporate family and friends in a greater way.
- Fosters mutual respect between both partners, as both seek to help one another uphold their values before God.
- Helps to maintain an element of mystery in the relationship, knowing that certain things should be reserved for a life-long marriage commitment.
God has given us His Spirit to help us overcome even the greatest temptations. As Paul writes to Timothy, “For God has not given us the spirit of timidity; but of power, and of love, and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). When we exercise self-discipline by setting boundaries and choose to delay sexual gratification out of obedience to God and respect for our partner, blessing will surely come in the most unexpected ways. Try it and see!
**This the 7th Principle of Godly Dating out of a 10-part series. Please join in the conversation and share your thoughts, questions and comments! And stay tuned for next week’s Godly Dating Principle #8: Accountability is Key. See you then!