Thursday, February 26, 2015

Physical Intimacy in Courtship - God's Way

Roman and I received some question from a few people related to our physical intimacy during our courtship and engagement. "Is it ok to hold hands during courtship? Are hugs OK? What about kisses?" So I decided I should write a blog post about that, just in case there are other people out there who have similar questions.

First of all, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all set of rules. So we are not going to tell you, do this, don't do that. But we believe in some guidelines that have helped us to stay on the right track. 

1. Honour God through everything you do. Everything we do in a relationship will honour or dishonour God. Before taking the next step in the physical intimacy ask yourself: "Is it honouring God? Is it something that will draw me closer to Him? Can I do this with God standing next to me?" Roman kept telling me during our courtship that he wants God's full blessing, not only part of it. If we want God's full blessing, we need to honour Him through EVERYTHING, including our physical intimacy. 

2. Make haste slow. The get-to-know-each-other phase of the relationship is a wonderful one. It is the time when a couple explores each other's world and tries to decide whether or not they are compatible. But many times, if the physical intimacy starts too soon, it can interfere with this process. Once a couple has physical intimacy (holding hands, hugging, kissing), it is much difficult to make rational decisions because of all the hormones released into the body. It is said that once there is physical intimacy, the process of getting to know each other slows down a lot. And I can attest that this is true. Eleven years before I met Roman, I had one other relationship in which the physical intimacy started too soon. A few months later we started doing premarital counseling (we were pretty sure that we are heading to marriage) and our counselor asked us to write down a few things about each other (what we appreciate the most, what we dislike, what we would change in the other). I simply had a hard time writing all those things down. I realised that I did not know the guy. No wonder it took me 7 months to break up with him even though I knew he is not the one for me a month into our relationship. I just could not do it and I did not know why. Now I know. And I wish I did things differently. 

3. Take a step back when needed. There are things that once you do them, create impure thoughts and feelings and also desires that cannot be fulfilled at that stage of the relationship. If this happens, take a step back. Be true to yourself and admit it when something is not helping you to remain pure. Do not be afraid to admit that it is not good and to take a step back. A lot of books and people will tell you that this is not possible. But Roman and I are a proof that it is possible. It might not be big thing, as it was with us. It might not be a no-no for courtship or engagement. But if it is not helping you keep your purity, ask God for the strength to stop doing that specific thing. 

4. Be true to yourself. It is so easy to calm your conscience when you enjoy something that is not helping you to keep your purity. That is why you need to be very true to yourself and ask for God's help.

4. Respect each other. We are all different and we have different reactions to different things. Our bodies and minds react different to different stimuli. Our past experiences is one of the things that causes these differences. You might discover that something that is OK for you is not OK for your partner. Something that does not affect your purity, affects your partner's purity. This is the time when respect, consideration and self-control are needed. It happened with us, too. Things that I was OK with, did not help Roman. So talk about those things and stick to what is OK for both of you. 

5. Ask God for self-control. We all need to self-control. This is one of those things that most people struggle with. It is a battle that Eve lost and Jesus had to win in the wilderness. Having self-control is essential if we want to honour God and maintain our purity. Many times our feelings and the hormones rushing through our veins will push us to do things that we will regret later. That is why it is important that we ask God for self-control and that we watch and pray. 

6. Set clear boundaries from the beginning. It is important that both of you communicate your expectations and get to an agreement at the beginning of your journey. As I said, people coming from different environments, with different backgrounds and experiences might have different expectations. It will save you from a lot of mistakes and it will help both of you to respect each other and to honour God. It is said that if you want to overcome temptation, you should set your mind on what you want to do before the temptation comes. Same thing applies to the physical intimacy in a relationship. Decide the boundaries and help each other to stick to them. 

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