I’ve heard a number of creative attempts to work around this logic, but none are very convincing.The great compromise of contemporary evangelical sexual ethics is that we have justified foreplay as a legitimate part of pre-marital relationships.Ultimately, the “commitment” of a dating relationship is the commitment to be committed until one or the other doesn’t feel like being committed. The time to bring on the romance is when you’re ready to bring on the ring! However, you also argue that the standard of sexual purity for the neighbor relationship, even after engagement, remains the same. Certainly once a man and woman have agreed upon marriage, it is appropriate that they have a happy sense of longing and desire to experience the relational joy of sexual intimacy with one another.
But since that would require an entire chapter’s worth, let me briefly state the argument and then hope people will go to the book for the details.
We work primarily from 1 Corinthians 7:9, where Paul instructs non-married individuals to pursue sexual fulfillment exclusively in marriage.
Telling teens and singles to develop their own sexual ethic is not pastorally responsible.
Our conclusion in this matter is pretty countercultural, and so my temptation here is to provide a prolonged defense and justification.
We’ve tended to push the burden of this dilemma back onto teens and singles.
Our typical line goes something like this: “The Bible doesn’t really speak about sexual boundaries in dating relationships, so you’ll have to prayerfully develop your own standard.” But this has been a disaster in our Christian sub-culture.This doesn’t hold up theologically or scripturally, and it certainly doesn’t work pragmatically.Foreplay is meant to propel us toward consummation.The implications in this passage are clear: sexual activity is to be reserved for the marriage relationship. But how do we determine which physical activities are sexual?Clearly some physical activities (like shaking hands, a kiss on the cheek) are not inherently sexual. A great way to judge the sexual nature of a physical activity is to consider the activity against the backdrop of the nuclear family.So if “the bounds of the neighbor relationship are binding until marriage” (p.