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We’re Saving Sex For Marriage, But Can We Do Other Things? Where’s The Line?

We're Saving Sex For Marriage, But Can We Do Other Things? Where's The Line?
I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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Hi Stephanie,

My boyfriend and I are waiting to have sex until we get married, but we’re trying to figure out where the line is with all things leading up to sex. What can we do, and what shouldn’t we be doing before we get married, specifically? Can you help?

Hi love!

Thank you so much for reaching out and asking about this! I'm so glad you did!

“How far can we go?” is a question that so many of us are asking. I know I did before I got married, all of my girlfriends were asking the same thing, and I’ve had this conversation with countless small group girls, and readers of mine.


I wanted to make sure to say that because I know sometimes this can be a topic we wrestle with alone. And so if any part of you has felt ashamed, or like you’re the only one who doesn’t have this all figured out, please don’t.

Anyone who’s in a relationship with someone great, and trying not to have sex before they’re married is trying to figure out where the line is. You’re 1000% not alone.

This is tough for everybody, and it’s really tough for two main reasons.

First because when you're in love with someone and in a relationship with them, the hope is that you're super attracted to them. And when you’re in love with someone, and super attracted to them, not having sex is quite frankly… ROUGH.

The other reason this is tough is because scripture isn’t clear on what's “allowed” and what's not. It talks about sex before marriage, for sure, but it doesn't give a diagram or any specifics about what’s okay and what’s too far. (I’m picturing a chart that says, “Above the belt: Happy face. Below the belt: Sad face.” Yea… scripture definitely doesn’t give us that).

So that leaves us in this awkward middle ground of wrestling our impulses, testing things out, doing things and feeling bad about them, trying not to do things, doing them anyway, trying to figure out what's okay so you can know what line to stay behind, and so we can stop feeling guilty! (Let me know if any of this is ringing a bell!)


And so I totally hear you in wanting to know — what’s okay and what’s not? Where is the line?

But the bad news is, there really isn't a line.

Like I said, scripture doesn’t give specifics, and if scripture doesn't give specifics, I can’t either.

And I wouldn’t want to, because this is a really personal decision. It’s a decision that affects your life, and your body, and your relationship with God, and your relationship with your boyfriend and your future spouse. And so it’s a decision that you need to make between you and God — and it’s a decision you have to make with your boyfriend.

It's not a decision that anyone else can make for you. Isn't that frustrating? Haha

BUT, I will give you a piece of advice that my pastor gave me when I asked him this very same question. AND I'll tell you the line I set for myself before I got married.

So here's the advice:

He said, “It's not about how far you can go, it's about how close you can get.”

That's the question we're asking. Right? How far can I go? What am I allowed to touch, what is he allowed to do, how far can we go before we've crossed the line?

But instead of thinking about it that way, my pastor challenged me to ask myself:

“What can I do to get as close to God as possible? What decision can we make that brings our relationship as close to God and His very best design for this as possible?”

And that changed the conversation for me completely.


Waiting until you’re married to have sex isn’t about following rules — or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s not about checking the right boxes so we don’t make God mad. God isn’t going to strike us down or spite us if we have sex before we’re married. That’s not who He is.

This decision is about a relationship — about tearing down the guilt, and shame, and sin that makes us distance ourselves from God. God doesn’t go anywhere when we sin, but we hide from Him when we do.

And by following what He says in this area, we’re keeping ourselves from putting walls between us. And the decision is about trusting the Creator of sex, and marriage, and love and us, when He says love is at its very best when we handle things this way.

I knew that I wanted the very best love life, the very best marriage, and the very best sex life possible. And if God — the Creator of all of those things — says this is the way to get the absolute most out of it, I want to take Him up on it!

So then — if that’s why we’re waiting to have sex — when it comes to all of the intimate things we can do leading up to sex, these are the two questions we can ask: 

  • What brings me closest to God?
  • What makes me feel like I’m setting myself and our relationship up to get the absolute most out of it — taking God up on all of the blessings He has in store for us?

And I think you can answer those questions pretty easily if you're honest with yourself.

If you're honest, after you and your boyfriend do ______ (fill in the blank), how do you feel? Do you feel ashamed? Like you've failed? Like you're further away from God now? That’s a good indication that you might need to re-think things, make a different decision. 


So, I don't know if you've read my book, The Lipstick Gospel (if you haven't, you can download a free copy right here!) but in it, I talk about how I had sex before I was married. Nobody ever told me not to! I wasn't raised as a Christian. I just didn't know it was something you shouldn't do.

But at some point someone finally told me that God had a better idea for love, and sex, and marriage, and the more I heard about it, the more I knew I really wanted to take Him up on it.

I'd done things my own way for so long, and I really didn't have a problem imagining that He could come up with something better.

So as a junior in college, I decided I wasn’t going to have sex again until I was married. Not only that, but I decided I wasn’t going to do anything other than kiss until I was married either. (I tell the full story of why I made that decision in the book too!)

Did I do that perfectly? No. I didn't. But I really did wait to have sex, and other than a select few moments of weakness, I waited for everything else too. (And — I didn’t get married 2 years after that decision. I got married 6 years after that decision.)

Now — I’m not saying you need to draw the same line. Again — this is a personal decision.

But the reason I drew the line there is because I knew from experience that intimacy is intimacy. And I felt like I was trying to cheat the system by doing other things that were pretty much having sex — maybe not technically, but really, really close.

And I didn't want to cheat the system. I'd lived outside of the system for SO long, and I knew how empty it felt. I wanted to actually do things the way I really thought God was saying to do them. And for me, I decided that meant saving intimacy of all kinds until I was married.

AND — now that I'm on the other side of that, I can say that it was 100%, 1000000% worth it. It really was.

So — I hope that helps, friend. I know how tough this is. You are absolutely not alone in this. Waiting is a struggle for everyone. And it's a good thing that it is! You don't want to marry someone you have zero chemistry with! That chemistry will pay off at some point.

But in the meantime, do everything you can to get as close to God as possible, to take advantage of every blessing He has in store for you in this area of your life.

Oh — and on that subject, there's a sermon series I absolutely love (it's the one called Explicit Lyrics!). It's the one that helped me decide that I didn't want to have sex again until I was married, and they talk all about why, and where it talks about that, and what God's plan is instead. I can't recommend it enough!

All my love and 100000 blessings to you in this, sweet friend!


P.S. Here's the link again for where you can pick up a copy of my book, The Lipstick Gospel. It's free!

P.P.S. If you're wanting to learn more on this topic, be sure to tune into my podcast episode called, Christian Dating Rules: What are they and are we supposed to follow them?

And this episode too: How to Navigate your Sex Drive as a Single Christian Woman

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We're Saving Sex For Marriage, But Can We Do Other Things? Where's The Line?

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  1. Keri McCue says:

    I love this response so much! I couldn’t agree more. While I don’t have a perfect past at all, there was a point in my life and relationship with Christ that I knew enough was enough and from that point on I made the decision to wait. My husband and I dated for a year and a half before getting married. While it wasn’t easy AT ALL, we stayed 100% “pure”. We only kissed. Let me tell you, that was HARD!!! But, not only did it bring us closer together and closer to Christ, it also created a deep trust and comfort in our relationship which I had never felt before. Now being married, we can enjoy the freedom on physical intimacy that God’s design for marriage and it has been so worth it! I had a friend in small group say “If you can’t praise God after it then you shouldn’t be doing it.” This really stuck with me. If I was left feeling guilty, if I couldn’t thank God for what just happened then I should stay away from it. I know this article will help and encourage so many women and girls!!

  2. Joy says:

    Thank you for writing this! My boyfriend and I have been together for over 4 years, we both were strongly against have sex before marriage. But we COMPLETELY underestimated how much chemistry we have together, we have struggled and failed at times to find a line that prevents any feelings of guilt. This encourages me to no end! I ended up moving across the country for work, and I was grateful for it because I didn’t have to worry about us going too far. Long distance relationships can actually be a good thing for some people. 🙂

  3. Sarah Rose says:

    Thank you so very much for this thoughtful prayerful response that is so relevant to many of us. I am interested in listening to the series you linked to but am curious which one exactly you were referencing? Thank you!

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