I was chatting with a young friend of mine about the recent Duggar weddings. They had not only gained publicity because they were Duggar weddings, but also because each daughter had saved her first kiss for her wedding day. The girls were also very open about the boundaries they had set for their courtships. My young friend is only a handful of years away from courtship age so I was curious about what boundaries she had set for herself. She hadn’t given it too much thought, as she was convinced her dad was going to keep all possible prospects far away from her for a very long time (much to my delight and her resignation); I used this as an opportunity to talk a little bit about various courtship possibilities she might want to consider. In doing so, I started to reflect a little…
I am sure that my husband and I didn’t do it all perfectly, but I do think we maintained a decent balance of physical contact and restraint. We both knew that we didn’t want to have any regrets on our wedding day or night; physical and emotional purity was our goal but not our obsession. We enjoyed ample time as just the two of us, spent delightful hours texting or chatting on the phone, and had several romantic dates – all without chaperones. Perhaps it was the maturity that came with our older age or simply a deeply rooted conviction that we valued each other enough to not cross lines that could not be returned to later. We were probably too free by some standards and too conservative for others; however, we enjoyed discussing the details of a healthy marriage more than agonizing over physical displays of affection that we already knew would be ours once we were married.
All that to say that perhaps young people with a desire for sexual purity would be better served laying a healthy foundation for their marriage than spending hours worrying about physical boundaries. I know that sounds harsh at first, but I do believe there is truth in this. Thoughts lead to temptation and if people are too focused on what they don’t want to do, it means they are really thinking about doing it. How much better to clearly state what they will not do and then move on. Go for premarital counseling, fix dinners together, babysit for another couple, set a practice budget, work on a community project, play board games, go on group hikes, and the list goes on. Above all else, spend time in prayer and Bible reading – as a couple and as individuals. The Lord will certainly convict if anything inappropriate is slipping into your relationship.
Every couple should set a standard for their relationship that they are comfortable with, and I certainly don’t want to criticize a couple for being too careful. I also want to keep reminding new couples that there are many ways to achieve purity and save themselves for each other on their wedding night, without regrets. “Dateship” worked wonderfully for us and it might work for you too.