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Boundaries in Dating: Why Say No to Sex?

1 Peter 2:11 – “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”

If you have hung around the church for very long, you have probably heard that God wants people to reserve sex for marriage. If you haven’t and that is news to you, then we can understand the shock you might be feeling. For many people, both inside and outside of the church, it does not make sense. If sex feels so good, and is good for the relationship, and both people are consenting, then what is the problem?

Consider this viewpoint: When someone can say no to sex while dating, their behavior is a sign that he or she is capable of delaying gratification and exhibiting self-control, which are two prerequisites of the ability to love. If someone cannot delay gratification and control himself or herself in this area, what makes you think that they can delay their own gratification in other areas of sacrifice? What is going to curb the “I want what I want now” mentality in the rest of life? If someone is able to respect the limit of hearing no for sex, then that is a character sign of someone who can say no to their own desires and hungers in order to serve a higher purpose, or to love another person.

You fall in love with a person and think about making a real, committed relationship with him or her. Naturally, that is going to mean some sacrifice down the road. You are going to want to be with a person who can deny himself or herself for the sake of your relationship in many areas. Think of the areas of sacrifice that a relationship takes. There are sacrifices of time, when you might want to spend time on your favorite hobby, and yet the family needs you. There are sacrifices of money. One person may want to buy a new car, and yet the family needs money for the home. There are sacrifices of getting one’s way. One person may want to go to one place for dinner and the others want something different.

Most importantly, there is the sacrifice that it takes to work out conflict. One person is hurt and wants to strike back in anger or hurt, yet to reconcile, the ability to put one’s own desires aside for the sake of the relationship is necessary. If someone does not have self-control and delay of gratification in pleasure, can they delay the gratification of getting his or her own way in conflict?

Think about it. Wouldn’t you want to be with a person who can hear and respect the “no” of others? Having a boundary in sex while you are dating is a very important test to see if the person loves you. We have all heard people refer to the line “If you love me, you will.” In reality, you should say back, “If you love me, you won’t make demands that I do not feel comfortable with.” Love waits and respects, but lust must have what it wants now. Are you being loved, or are you an object of self-serving lust? Saying no is the only way to know.

We cannot overemphasize the value of dating a person who can delay their own gratification. If you are with someone who ultimately has to have what they want when they want it, you are in for a long time of misery. Choose someone who can delay gratification for the sake of you and the relationship. To the extent that he or she says, “I must have what I want now,” you are in trouble. Boundaries with sex are a sure-fire test to know if someone loves you for you.

This devotional is drawn from Boundaries in Dating, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.

The Boundaries devotions are drawn from the Boundaries book series, which has transformed marriages, families, organizations, and individuals around the world. The Boundaries series is written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2015 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Learn more at BoundariesBooks.com.

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