What is or is not allowed between people when they are dating?

Last updated on October 29, 2020


I’ve known my boyfriend since I was a toddler, and we are now in a relationship. My mom is a worshiper as I am too. My boyfriend wants to be a pastor, and he and his mother are into church. I don’t know what to do. I’m so confused, I don’t know what I can do with him. I feel like if I just kiss him, I’m committing a sin. I’m 15 he’s 17. He has this passion to marry me. I know that sounds crazy but he does.

He does not lust for any girl. In fact, he hates lust. He says I’m the only girl that he has his eyes on. But yesterday we were making out, and he started touching me — my neck, arms, legs — then he started sucking my boob. Is that a sin? I did so much research, and I still don’t have a good answer.

I want to break up with him because I feel like I’m disobeying God, but I’m in love with him, and I’ll be broken-hearted. Ever since I got with him I started singing in church again. I feel like he’s a blessing because last summer we went our ways and I hurt him. (It’s a long story.) Well, I would pray for God to give him back to me for half a year. One day I got on my knees, started praying, and telling God I’m done with this, I’m suffering, my heart hurts, I just want him back. That same night he chatted with me. Now we are in a relationship.

I don’t know if I should break up with him or stay with him. I’m confused and I know confusion is not of God.

Help, please.


One problem is that you are defining lust as sexually desiring another person. Lust is a strong desire, generally to the point that you are willing to break a law of God to get what you want. He is not being honest when he says he has no lust because his actions speak otherwise. When a person’s words and actions do not agree, his actions and the results of his actions, are closer to the truth than his word. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16-20).

I’m not going to tell you whether you should date this boy or not. But I will recommend that you only date someone you see as a potential husband. If you are dating someone and are thinking, “There’s no way I would marry a guy like this,” then you should break it off.

The real question, though, is what is proper behavior between two unmarried people. Having sex without marriage is the word porneia in the original Greek of the New Testament. It is translated as fornication, but many of the newer translations use “sexual immorality” or just plain “immorality” because the translators think “fornication” is too old of a word and not often used. Unfortunately, “sexual immorality” and “immorality” are too vague. They don’t capture the meaning of the word well. For a list of sexual terms in the Bible and their meaning, see Sex.

Now that we understand the meaning of the term, we can see whether it is bad. In this, we’ll let God answer:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

The word “bed” in Hebrews 13:4 is translating the Greek word koite. It literally means “bed” and it is where we get our English word “cot” from, but the Greeks used the word the same we say “Jack was sleeping was Jane.” You know that Jack and Jane were having sex. By the way, we get our word “coitus” from this same word. “Coitus” is the act of intercourse.

Now, this should lead to the question of why God said it is wrong. God doesn’t make arbitrary rules. The laws He gives are there to make life better. Therefore, there are things about having sex without marriage that makes life worse. For answers as to why it is bad, see:

One of the problems, when sex enters a relationship, is that it dominates it. Everything revolves around sex and the relationship stops developing. Ultimately the relationship falls apart because sex is not enough to hold it together.

If you understand that you may not have intercourse before marriage, the next question is what about the things done prior to intercourse. Can you do anything so long as his penis doesn’t enter her vagina?

The first problem is restraint. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, “I didn’t mean for it to go this far,” or “I don’t know what happened,” or “It was an accident.” Such statements aren’t lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn’t have a healthy respect for the strength of her sexual instinct.

Solomon points out the problem when he asked, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn’t change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, “But I love him!” Solomon’s point is that your feelings toward your boyfriend won’t change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.

Solomon also asked, “Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn’t mean to step on it, but you’ll still be hurt because your intentions don’t change what it is. Thus, the excuse, “But I didn’t mean for it to go this far!” becomes an empty one because your intentions don’t change your body’s drive.

That is why Solomon concludes, “So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when things go further than you wanted.

That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can’t be legitimately completed.

Polite kissing or holding hands would not be lewd behavior, but making out is getting each other’s bodies sexually aroused where it begins to get hard to think. Such would be wrong.

Rules, then, are needed so that you don’t start down a sinful path. No touching each other’s private areas. No stroking skin to get you or her sexually aroused. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1). His sucking on your breast would definitely violate this rule.

With that comes not talking dirty or showing nude or semi-nude pictures to each other. “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7). You don’t stay pure by sexually arousing the other person.

Along with all of this, neither of you should be exposing yourself to the other person. What you would not show in public should not be shown in private. In describing the appropriate dress of a Christian, Paul said, “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing” (I Timothy 2:9). The word translated “propriety” comes from the Greek word aidos. It means having a sense of shame or bashfulness. I assume you had your breast exposed and that nakedness should have been embarrassing, even if we ignored what he was doing with your breast.

If both of you are willing to repent of your sins and willing to live from here on out by God’s rules, then whether you continue to date is up to you. If he refuses to behave properly, then you have your answer and know the two of you need to break up. More often than not, a guy who has intentions of not living by God’s Word will leave to find someone easier.