Can you give some guidelines for how to behave in courtship?


During our courtship, my girlfriend and I kept making small compromises that almost led to sex. We know we want to marry one another; in fact, it took us about four months to get to know each other because we wanted to make sure God is being glorified in the midst of our relationship. I know He's not glorified when we practice sexual acts because the Bible says "flee from sexual immorality" and "flee youthful lusts"! So basically what we're cutting off communication and not seeing each other for two whole weeks to kill the lustful emotion and to pray that the Lord has mercy and grace to keep the door open as we pursue marriage. Could you please provide me with good instructions on the "Do's" and "Don'ts" in courtship so that we display God's glory through our relationship and not display the lust of the flesh?

Thank you so much. Please respond to this question because I'm a believer truly seeking to please the Lord in our relationship. Any advice or guidelines will be such a blessing. God bless you!


I've learned over the years that people's idea of sex varies quite a bit from what the Bible talks about. People get so focused on not committing fornication through sexual intercourse that they forget that sex is more than just a penis going into a vagina. The things leading up to sexual intercourse are just as much a part of sex as the actual intercourse.

Then there is the fact fornication isn't the only sin that a person needs to be concerned about. Lewd behavior and lust are just as much a sin as fornication. The Greek word for lewdness or sensuality is aselgia. It refers to shameless behavior, particularly in regards to sex. It is behavior that is involved in pure self-enjoyment or behavior characteristic of an animal. This would include foreplay, mutual masturbation, and fornication.

"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).

Here then is the first rule: if you are going to stay out of sin, you can't make it convenient to sin. That means you don't spend time alone with her where it would be easy to act sexually without being seen. If either of you has your own apartment, you don't enter if no one else is there. If you live at home, you only visit if someone else is home. You don't go into each other's bedroom and especially you don't close the door. If you have to go somewhere together, you have someone else with you. You are making it inconvenient for yourself to do inappropriate things.

Think of it this way. You love and respect your girlfriends, so it is your responsibility to protect her reputation and that includes protecting her from yourself.

"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).

From the context, we know that Paul is talking about sexual touching. Touches that arouse sexual passion in another person are not to be done when you are not married. The reason is simple: You don't start something that you shouldn't finish.

In talking about sexual sin, Solomon asks two questions: "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). If you gave a fire a great big hug and be very nice to it, it will still burn you. Your good intentions do not change its nature. "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Just because you step on a lump of hot coal unintentionally, it is still going to burn your foot. All the apologies and the excuses in the world won't change its nature. The point of these two illustrations is to tell us something about sex. The nature of sexual sin and its consequences does not change, regardless of your intentions. You start fooling with it and one thing will lead to another. It won't be long before you are doing things you later regret and you can't reverse. And it isn't the fault of sex -- it is just its nature, it is the way the body was designed.

The conclusion? Don't start. Keep your hands to yourself. Keep them away from sexual areas.

"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

One thing couples are surprised to learn is that once sex enters the picture, it dominates everything. Everything revolves around sex. Thus, the relationship decays because you are no longer seeing each other as people but merely outlets for your sexual desire. Jesus points out that control of sexual behavior starts with control of your thoughts. You have to fight with yourself not to think about having sex with your girlfriend.

We can see this in the Song of Solomon, every time the heroine begins to slip into thoughts about sex before her marriage she stops herself. "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases" (Song of Solomon 2:7). There is a proper time and place to think about sex and it is not before marriage. If you rush things into action or even in your thoughts, you are going to lose it. It is just like someone trying to approach a deer to pet it, if you rush your approach, the deer runs off. If your rush love by trying to make it happen with sex, you more often than not lose it.

As you think that is the way you behave, so you have to battle your thoughts to keep them in line.

"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).

Many times people come up with schemes for dealing with sin and are surprised when they find out they don't work. Taking a break from each other sounds good and it does give you a bit of time to think clearly, but by itself, it won't solve the basic problem. Until you both commit fully to no sex before marriage, which includes the things that lead up to sex, you won't succeed because each time you get back together the issue will flare up again.

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