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God’s Boundaries for When Boy Meets Girl

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Single people should regard every member of the opposite sex as someone’s future spouse.

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God designed the act of sex for His children to enjoy—only within the context of the marriage relationship. In the 4th segment of a six-part series on dating, Dr. Don Dunlap addresses the question, “How far should I go on a date?” He points out the biblical truth that the question, instead, should be, “What does God have to say about sex?” He then offers young people several guidelines to help them flee the temptation to engage in sexual activity during dating years.

Throughout the twenty-five years that I have worked as a pastoral counselor, countless Christian young people have asked me the question, “How far is too far to go on a date?” I always tell them that they are asking the wrong question. The key question for a Christian should be, “What does God have to say in the Bible about sex?”

God is the One who created the wonderful gift of sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife. 

We find in the book of Genesis that God designed the act of sex for His children to enjoy. However, His perfect plan for mankind is that men and women should exercise sexual expression only within the context of the marriage relationship. God intends for husbands and wives to experience joy and fulfillment in the intimacy of sexual intercourse. 

1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 is a powerful warning to Christians:

For this is the will of God…that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion…and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things.

God reminds us in His Word that our bodies are God’s temples and the Holy Spirit lives within us. He commands us to flee from sexual immorality, and to avoid any appearance of evil. A Christian should keep his or her body as a sacred trust before God.

Unmarried people should respectfully regard every member of the opposite sex as someone’s future spouse.

Young people should remember that somewhere in the world is the young woman or young man who may one day become their mate. Jesus instructs us in Matthew 7:12, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” 

Unmarried people ought to treat anyone they date in the same way that they would want another person to treat their future mate. It is a good idea for them to ask themselves whether they would want their future mate to be sexually aroused and misused. 

We should all flee temptation immediately and never toy with sin. We must remember that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

It is vitally important to be sensitive to the initial promptings of the Holy Spirit anytime we are tempted to be immoral. God never misleads us. When we are tempted, we must resist the tendency to rationalize—to convince ourselves, for example, “This time it’s OK because we care about each other.” It is helpful to quote scripture, such as,

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.

We should heed the command of 2 Timothy 2:22,

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

It is wise to take healthy precautions and avoid situations that would be sexually arousing, such as spending time together alone. It is never appropriate, for example, to spend time alone together in a parked car, or in an apartment. When we make choices such as these, we make provision for the flesh, and we set ourselves up for moral failure. There is built-in godly protection in group activities.

We must acknowledge the constant presence of Jesus Christ in our relationships. Dates should include Bible study, witnessing opportunities and fellowship with other Believers. Young men and women must plan their dates carefully, prayerfully, and creatively during the years of dating and courtship.


Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

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