Some things to consider | Physical boundaries in dating

With everything that has been going on in the country, I have craved wisdom in how to respond, act, and grow during this season.

So I turned to the ultimate source of wisdom: God’s Word, specifically Proverbs (the book of wisdom — how convenient!)

So far, I have absorbed a lot and, despite having read it before, learned a lot.

In my prayer time this morning before opening to Chapter 7, I prayed for insight into what boundaries in dating should look like.

I have started dating again in the last several months, and I have really enjoyed the newness and excitement of growing to love another person. We have been really intentional in pursuing each other well and treating each other like Jesus does.

I have been in situations where I have messed up and fallen short of God’s standard of purity, so I do not want to repeat my previous mistakes. I have learned from experience, but I wanted a Biblical standard as well as my own ideas of how to guard my heart and the heart of my boyfriend.

God is so faithful to answer prayers–sometimes immediately! The title of Chapter 7 in the NLT is “Another Warning about Immoral Women” (Chapter 5 discusses this immoral woman as well).

In this chapter, King Solomon (author of Proverbs) writes his eye witness account of a man falling prey to the luring of an immoral woman.

Let’s read through it and make note of the things that led to his downfall

While I was at the window of my house,
looking through the curtain,
I saw some naive young men,
and one in particular who lacked common sense.

Proverbs 7:6-7

Alright pause. Two important things stick out to me here: Naivety & Lack of Common Sense

To be naive is to show a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. Right off the bat, we see that we need to know what we are walking into. We need to be prepared.

There is so much I did not realize about sexuality growing up — it is a powerful thing. And it’s a powerful thing because God made it powerful. He created it to unite two people into one being, body and soul (Genesis 2:24). We are designed to crave intimacy with another person, but we are instructed to only be sexually bonded with someone we are married to (1 Corinthians 7:2).

That means there is a fight to remain pure until marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9). That is no small feat. There is commitment, preparation, and dedication involved. Our first instinct is to sin, to do what feels good or “right,” so we have to be equipped with self control from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We must be ready to flee (1 Corinthians 6:18) when we start to feel tempted. We have to decide in advance what we consider okay (pure) or not in our personal relationships.

Common sense is also important — it is good sense and good judgement

Open your eyes and be aware of what is going on. Take note of where you are, what you’re doing, and how you’re handling yourself. Are you being wise? Fortunately, the Lord “grants a treasure of common sense to the honest” (Proverbs 2:7). Plus we can learn what to watch out for by studying the naive man’s experience.

He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman,
strolling down the path by her house.
It was at twilight, in the evening,
as deep darkness fell.

Proverbs 7:8-9

Can y’all predict what’s going to happen? I can. Three things stand out to me: strolling, twilight, & darkness.

Strolling — doesn’t sound bad. It’s casual, chill, leisurely, but that’s exactly what makes it dangerous.

The naive man is not walking with purpose. He is not focused or direct in his path. Where was he going? What was he doing there? What was his destination (because if he had one, I doubt he would have stopped)?

In the same way, what are your intentions with this person? What is the purpose and reason behind your actions? Where are your steps taking you?

The Bible says that the road leading to life is hard and narrow (Matthew 7:14) but when we delight in the Lord’s ways, he establishes our steps (Psalm 37:23). We must take intentional steps when pursuing another person — we cannot just hope for the best.

Twilight aka time of day — If you’re like me, by the end of the day, you are tired and just wanna snuggle up. Your guard is down, and temptation can increase when you are not careful.

Something to ask yourself when setting boundaries is “When?” When is too late at night? When do you usually get tired? When is a bad time for you to be hanging out with the person you’re attracted to?

Use wisdom when discerning what is best for you. You know that saying “Nothing good happens after midnight?” Consider how that applies to your personal life!

Darkness — two things to consider about this: your other senses are heightened when you can’t see & it’s easier to be vulnerable when you know the other person can’t see you. Make your decisions wisely!

The woman approached him,
seductively dressed and sly of heart.
She was the brash, rebellious type,
never content to stay at home.

Proverbs 7:10-11

So far, we have only talked about the man in the story, but before we switch over to the woman, I just want to make something clear. Sexual sin is a two-way street. Although this chapter’s title is about “Immoral Women” we can clearly see how the man was just as much at fault for saying yes to her. All of these things can be applied to men and women — maybe you’re a naive woman or an immoral man. But either way, you cannot put the blame on the other person by saying you sinned because of how someone was dressed or how someone spoke to you — the Bible is clear that there is always a way out when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Things that stick out: seductively dressed, sly of heart, brash, & rebellious

An outfit that is seductive is meant to be tempting and attractive, enticing, and offering pleasure.

I think the immoral woman’s intentions are clear here. What are your intentions with the way you dress?

While I do not agree with the way the church has shamed girls with their definitions of modesty (another blog post idea coming soon), I do think you should dress in a manner that protects the purity of the people in your life (1 Timothy 5:1-2). I do not think the way you dress should distract from who you are; your clothes should be a reflection of who you are.

What are you wearing around the opposite sex? Dress attractively and confidently, but consider how you might be dressing seductively!

To have a sly heart means you act in a way that is cunning and deceitful.

Something I learned about myself during my year of no dating is that I have the ability to manipulate guys into liking me. It sounds really conceited (it’s not–I’m just being honest) and cruel (yeah, it kind of was). But the reason it would work was because I used sly words to flirt with and get attention from guys. In addition, to be brash is to be overbearing.

If you’re like me, you know the things to say to get attention, but let me affirm you and tell you that you deserve real love and are fully capable of getting it by being your genuine self! You do not have to be cunning and deceitful or manipulative! The best person will want to be with you for your real self.

Also when it comes to relationships, I do not think rebellion should be something we aim for. Although, it sounds exciting to be sneaky and scandalous it is dangerous to be disobedient to God’s commandments and desires for us.

The same can be said about what your mentors or parents are speaking into your life. The words of wise counsel should be considered and meditated on. The beginning of Proverbs 7 says “Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands. Obey my commands and live!” (vs. 1-2). I know from personal experience that if I had listened to my mother I could have saved myself from some sin and shame!

She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said,”I’ve just made my peace offerings
and fulfilled my vows.
You’re the one I was looking for!
I came out to find you, and here you are!

Proverbs 7:13-15

Things that stick out: force & yearning

The woman doesn’t give the man much of choice, throwing herself at him and kissing him. She is forceful and bold.

King Solomon doesn’t say what the man does in this situation, but I can imagine the shock on his face. However, we can assume he wasn’t appalled and probably did not resist.

When someone advances, we can decide whether to step back or lean in.

Then the woman speaks and says that she had been searching for a man like him. I can hear the desperation and seduction in her words.

Watch the words you say and be aware of how you respond to the words of others! The Bible says to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Don’t lead people on with your words!

My bed is spread with beautiful blankets,
with colored sheets of Egyptian linen.
I’ve perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

Proverbs 7:16-17

Something to consider: danger zones

Be aware of how different environments affect your ability to make wise decisions and set your boundaries accordingly. Hanging out in bedrooms might be tempting for you — Ask “Where?” (some other places to consider: cars, couches, beds, etc)

When it comes to beds, Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous”

That’s pretty severe.

Sleepovers are fun, but having them with the opposite sex is tempting. There’s such a thin line between sleeping together and *sleeping together*. Evaluate for yourself what sharing a bed means to you, and make wise decisions based on it.

Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning.
Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses,
for my husband is not home.
He’s away on a long trip.
He has taken a wallet full of money with him
and won’t return until later this month.

Proverbs 7:18-20

Things that stick out: Caressing & No Supervision

Caressing is considered a gentle or loving stroke. While these are sweet and often wholesome, in the wrong context they can be dangerous and tempting.

Ask yourself “Where?” touching is okay for you. Your body is the dwelling place of the Lord; it is holy — it is His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and your (future) spouse’s (1 Corinthians 7:4)

Be aware of what your hands are doing or how someone else’s are making you react!

No one is home = Isolation.

When we are alone, we do not have to be careful. Having an apartment or room to yourself can be exhilarating because no one will walk in on you doing whatever you think you want privacy for — You can lock the doors and hide behind walls. But this can be dangerous because there is little to nothing keeping you from doing whatever you want.

Something to consider is when/ how often you are alone and what you do in the isolation.

The woman would not have slept with another man if her husband was home. In the same way, you are less likely to fall into temptation with your roommates or family members lurking nearby.

Adding onto that, consider what you’d be okay doing in front of friends — if you’d feel shame being caught doing something, maybe it’s not the best idea.

So how does the story end?

she seduced him with her pretty speech
and enticed him with her flattery.
He followed her at once,
like an ox going to the slaughter.
He was like a stag caught in a trap,
awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart.
He was like a bird flying into a snare,
little knowing it would cost him his life

Proverbs 7:21-23

In the end, temptation won. And the cost for one night was the rest of his life.

I pray that you will not give in

Be wise and use good judgement in when and where you spend time with your significant other. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Watch your actions and your intentions behind them. Use your words wisely because (you know) they have consequences. Don’t throw yourself at someone or lower your standards — be patient for the right one who will pursue you in the right way.

Fight for your significant other’s purity! Fight for your own purity! (1 Timothy 6:12) Love is about sacrifice — sacrificing our life for our friends (John 15:13), our desires for God’s desires (Psalm 37:4), and our temptations to sin for obedience to God’s commands (Matthew 26:41).

Decide for yourself what is wise–only you know your limits! Don’t just dance around the line or go as far as you can without going “too far” — your purity is far too important to just do what someone else tells you you can/ should! You know your temptations, so set your boundaries accordingly!

Instead of focusing on what you can and can’t do, focus your eyes on Jesus and think about what is “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

If you need to chat about boundaries or anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out! I would love to talk about this and your opinions on the matter — boundaries are so interesting to me especially being on the flip side of falling into lust

Verses to consider when setting boundaries:

  • Philippians 4:8
  • Matthew 5:28
  • Mark 9:42
  • 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Ephesians 5:3
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
  • 1 Corinthians 13:5&7
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13, 19-20
  • Song of Solomon 8:4

To read about the importance of purity & how it’s different than just not having sex (and my own story with purity), click here

To read about why I didn’t date for a year, click here

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