is the commitment to be committed until one or the other doesnt feel like being committed. While one may be denied participation in the shadow relationship, everyone is granted access to the real thing through Gods grace. Christ reserves himself exclusively for the church, so too we should reserves ourselves exclusively for our spouse.
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This can be a painful situation. Telling teens and singles to develop their own sexual ethic is not pastorally responsible. But the hope of the gospel is that marriage and sex, as wonderful as they are, are only a picture of the real thing. All of us fall short of Gods ideal. Theres more to sexual purity than this, but framing things in this way provides a good deal of clarity regarding appropriate sexual boundaries. But how do we determine which physical activities are sexual? Christ and the church dont divorce, so neither should. Our typical line goes something like this: The Bible doesnt really speak about sexual boundaries in dating relationships, so youll have to prayerfully develop your own standard. But it is wrong to anticipate the gift in such a way that it breeds impatience or disobedience. In addition to exacerbating sexual impropriety, you also argue that dating relationships tend to create unhealthy emotional expectations. And other physical activities (oral sex, fondling) are clearly sexual. The implications in this passage are clear: sexual activity is to be reserved for the marriage relationship.
Pastors and parents have, I think, dropped the ball here. In the church they keep talking to you about how horrible it is to have sex outside marriage. So I dont recommend engaged couples, still months from their wedding, spending too much time thinking or talking about sexual intimacy, or even allowing their thoughts to wander in that direction for too long. Feeling left to our own devices, we have invented our own guidelines of sexual purity. We often have a hard time believing this, but its the truth. The problem with viewing a dating relationship as its own distinct category of relationship is thatbeing a modern inventionit lacks any explicit scriptural boundary regarding sexual relations. Why do you find this last category problematic? Christian sexuality is grounded in a fixed norm that anchors our view of sexual ethics, as well as informs our self-understanding as sexual beings.