Talk About Sexual Purity
Van Pelt, Certified Family Life Educator, and Family
and Consumer Science Professional
raised in a Christian home with moral principles she held dear.
As a young adult she began dating Andrew. He wasn’t a Christian,
but there were no available Christian fellows to date, so she
continued to date him.
fun, interesting and polite but had a different agenda than Monica.
They were getting into some pretty steamy petting episodes with
him pushing hard for more. Monica didn’t like this part of
their relationship, but in order to have a boy friend she decided
to put up with it and just be careful. It wasn’t long before
he pushed her further than she ever dreamed anyone could. Pure
disgust haunted her from then on.
Petting is a powerful force. Those who engage in it tend to make
up the rules as they move along, because few know the rules.
Petting is a step beyond hugging
and kissing and yet not as far as sexual intercourse. This leaves a wide range
of body exploring activities open to question, guess and negotiation.
When a fellow begins fondling
a woman’s body, he is testing the waters.
How far will she let me go, he wonders. He enjoys this testing process immensely
since it is sexually pleasurable. His mind races with anticipation as he thinks
about what lies ahead. At this point he may deliver his best line. “I’ve
never loved anyone the way I love you, Baby.” His hormones are pumping
and he is likely to say or do anything to get what he wants.
Her agenda is likely
very different. She enjoys the hugging, holding, and kissing. And as she surrenders
to his kiss and caress, her emotional need for romance,
love and emotional security are being met.
Wait a minute!
To engage in such intimacy outside of marriage, simply for the
thrill of sexual pleasure, to enjoy the stimulation of the moment,
just to make you feel good,
is very selfish and self-centered Likewise to allow someone to fondle your
body before marriage, just to feel loved and secure is equally selfish. Particularly
is this true in a casual dating relationship where a couple have no plans to
marry each other. This cheapens a relationship. The risks are high and the
Let’s clear something up.
Petting is not “dirty.” Within marriage,
petting is a beautiful experience. It is the natural expression of love called
foreplay, which leads directly to sexual intercourse. What then, is the difference
between petting and foreplay? Their purpose. Petting is the exploration of
a partner’s body by two unmarried persons who do not intend
for intercourse to occur.
And that’s the trouble with petting. It doesn’t stand alone. It moves
naturally to intercourse. By itself, outside of marriage, it is more frustrating
than satisfying. Our bodies were designed and created by God to respond to petting
by becoming sexually aroused and desiring intercourse.
When an unmarried couple engage in petting with the intention of
not having intercourse, they must constantly be on guard to stop,
lest it go too far.
Petting, or foreplay,
was not designed to stop on command. One who habitually progresses to intimate
kissing and petting and then stops, risks the possibility of sexual malfunction
Petting might be likened to crossing a bridge that spans a wide
gorge. On one side is intercourse and on the other no physical
expression of love. When petting
you can be a quarter of the way across, halfway or nine-tenths across the bridge.
It’s so exciting that it’s easy to find yourself across the bridge
before you realize it.
Crossing the bridge doesn’t always happen all at once. But petting is dangerously
progressive. Each level of excitement demands the next level. It is a powerful
force for those in love who feel the sexual chemistry between them escalating.
But people always want to know: What’s right and what’s wrong before
marriage? The unstated question is: “How far can I go and still not sin?” There
are many gray areas for which the Bible provides no clear-cut guidelines. However,
I have discovered research about pair bonding that lays an excellent foundation
for making decisions.
Pair bonding was first reported by secular zoologist Desmond Morris in Intimate
Behavior. However, it was a lecture by Dr. Donald Joy on pair bonding that
opened my eyes to the importance of pair bonding in dating. Pair- bonding encompasses
the physical, but also includes emotional, spiritual and intellectual components.
The twelve steps listed here were found to be consistently present in 80 percent
of the five hundred cultures Morris studied.
The Twelve Step to Pair Bonding.
Stage 1: No Touch
Step 1: Eye to Body
First glance is not sexual look but the look of discovery. First
glance takes in size, shape, coloring, age, and personality. Immediately
grading process begins, rating the person on a scale of low to high desirability.
glance determines whether or not the relationship progresses.
Step 2: Eye to Eye
This will frequently occur in a library or office setting. When
the eyes meet there will be a quickening of the heartbeat along
with the flush of embarrassment,
causing a breaking of the gaze and glancing away. Direct eye contact is reserved
for those we know and trust. So two people who see each other for the first
time will usually look each other over sequentially rather than simultaneously.
the eyes convey a message of interest, the relationship will probably not proceed.
Step 3: Voice to Voice
At first, the couple’s conversation involve small talk such as each other’s
name, where they live, what they do for a living, the weather. Such small talk,
however, permits further observation and analysis. If the couple continues to
talk they can really get to know each other, including opinions, pastimes, hobbies,
ideas, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams for the future. Compatibility can
be determined here. A couple should spend many hours at step 3. I stress as many
as 1,000 hours talking on the phone while acquiring skills that will be critical
to their relationship and possible marriage later on. Each is exploring his or
her inner self and becoming vulnerable, a major task when intimacy is developing.
This step cannot and should not be ignored. The relationship needs to be slowed
down now, before romantic touch begin. After romantic affection begins, the couple
will interact differently.
Stage 2: First Touch
During the second stage of bonding, the couple spend much time
talking, but eye contact remains limited. Touch begins but none
of it is directly sexual.
hugging or open-mouth kissing would rush the bonding process and awaken sexual
responses ahead of schedule.
Step 4: Hand to Hand.
First touch may be innocent–a handshake,
or touching while assisting a woman through a doorway. If she pulls
away from his touch,
it signals him she is not ready for more. But if his touch is received warmly,
the relationship may move to hand holding. Holding hands is evidence of a
growing attachment between them. First touch is also a social statement
that says, “I
have someone who enjoys being with me.”
Step 5: Arm to shoulder
Soon the thrill of holding hands subsides and a new plateau is
needed to show continued interest. During hand holding the bodies
have not been that close,
but arm-to-shoulder pulls the trunks of the bodies into close contact and the
thrill returns. The shoulder embrace says more than holding hands does. It’s
a gesture of ownership that states, “This relationship is going someplace.” There
is still limited eye contact and verbals but closer body contact.
Step 6: Arm to Waist
The excitement of holding hands and arm-to-shoulder eventually
wears thin. So to bring back the thrill, the couple move to arm
to waist which displays
ownership of the body. The arm around the waist clearly signals romantic interest.
Notice also that the hands are moving down the body closer to the genitals.
You might observe a couple walking down the street, each wearing jeans, in
6 position. Sometimes each will slip a thumb inside the back pocket with the
hand resting directly on the buttocks. He knows exactly where his hand is and
may be entertaining some interesting thoughts: If I can touch her here outside
the clothing, I wonder if I might touch her inside the clothes.
Couples can frequently be observed at this stage of bonding on
a school campus, or at a park. Their bodies are close but they
appear to be looking down, talking
to their feet. Deep levels of communication develop at this step. Personal
disclosures are made. The basic issues of life are discussed and evaluated.
secrets are shared and a couple really get to know each other at a deeply personal
Values, goals, and beliefs must be scrutinized closely because
it is now that th future of the relationship must be made–whether it should progress or
end. Enough personal disclosures have been shared so that compatibility can be
evaluated. If serious doubts or questions exist, now is the time to say good-bye.
Proceeding to step 7 or beyond and then separating can leave deep and painful
scars because by then the bond is so well formed.
Stage 3: Intimate Contact
At this stage the couple face one another. Although no direct sexual
contact occurs, the change in body positions puts sex on a hidden
agenda that both
become acutely aware of. Any genital contact would bring on intercourse and
the formation of a healthy bond, introduce an undercurrent of mistrust, and
haunt the pair later should they marry. Communication is different. Until now
has been developing their communication skills. Now the verbals shut down and
eye contact and nonverbals take over.
Step 7: Face to Face
As the couple moves face to face, three types of contact take place:
hugging, deep kissing and prolonged eye contact. The verbals shut
down and close body
contact in this frontal position combined with open-mouth kissing and tongue
thrusting bring on strong sexual arousal, particularly when repeated or prolonged.
Much restraint must now be exercised now since the position excites sexual
sensitivities. If the couple has taken time to talk through important issues
can take place with few words. Eye contact becomes long and pronounced. Verbal
communication tends to shut down while the couple reads each other’s face.
A couple must guard their display of physical affection carefully
from now on as all sexual motors are racing.
Step 8: Hand to Head
Here one’s hand is used to caress the head of the other while kissing or
talking. This intimate gesture is reserved for those where a high level of trust
has been developed. Few people engage in head-touching unless they are in love
or are family members. This act, then, denotes emotional closeness, a deep bond
of friendship, love, and caring.
Step 9: Hand to Body
Now the hands explore the partner’s body. Breast fondling becomes important
for the male. In the early stages of step 9 the hands remain outside the clothing.
Later the hands will move underneath the clothing but stay above the waist. Step
9 is dangerously progressive and includes back rubs and other caressing. Each
time the couple goes to step 9 they have more trouble stopping at step 9. It
is usually now that the female recognizes she must call a halt or it will be
Stage 4: One Flesh
Ultimate intimacy is achieved.
Step 10: Mouth to Breast
Step ten requires the baring of
the female breast and demands utmost privacy. The couple is not
only concerned with pleasure and arousal
but intend to complete
the sex act.
Step 11: Hand to Genital.
The hands drop below the waist. Sexual arousal and foreplay are
well under way in this last and most intimate stage of genital
fondling. Mutual masturbation
involves fondling the genitals to attain climax without intercourse. This is
done in a vain attempt to retain virginity for marriage and to avoid pregnancy
and STDs. Faulty reasoning!. The dictionary defines virgin as “a person
of either sex remaining in a state of chastity.” This definition shows
that purity has already been lost since touching the genitals of a partner would
hardly be considered chaste, pure, or virtuous in any culture. Technically it
is only a breath or two away from intercourse.
Step 12: Genital to Genital
The pair-bonding process escalates to its highest level of sexual
desire and is complete with penetration and intercourse. A pair
bond is thus formed by
progressing through these twelve steps. But the goal should be more than sexual
The goal of bonding is to develop a strong unbreakable bond.
The Results of Rushing or Skipping Steps
When the twelve-step bonding process is rushed, several harmful
things can happen.
- When steps are skipped or rushed the bond is weakened and tends
to break or become deformed. This happens because the couple did
not take time to talk
the important issues–values, goals, and beliefs–prior to becoming
physically involved. Once the sexual motors get turned on, people forget
other aspect of relationship building. It is easier and faster to get to
other physically then emotionally, socially, and spiritually. This is probably
the greatest contributor to rising divorce statistics.
- After a couple break up, the tendency is to accelerate the steps
with the next partner. Each level of sexual excitement is so
immediately rewarding it
becomes nearly impossible to be satisfied with lower levels. The long-term
consequence of uninhibited sexual freedom is difficulty settling down to
one partner after
- A sexually experienced person will tend to rush a new partner
to intercourse. A person who is used to proceeding through all
twelve steps of sexual arousal
without stopping will find it difficult to slow the process or stop at
steps 7, 8, or 9.
Now that the twelve pair-bonding steps have been outlined we can
better determine what is appropriate for each stage of dating.
Your values committed to God,
along with how much you value yourself, dictate your choices. As you map out
remember that everyone crossing the boundary from step 6 or 7 risks the trauma
that follows a divorce due to the intensity of the bond. Steps 9 - 12 have
no place in a relationship prior to the wedding ceremony.
An Invitation to Sexual Purity
God’s plan for our lives is perfect and has never changed. Sexual intimacy
for marrieds is God’s special design for procreation and our enjoyment.
This is the only lifestyle that offers complete happiness. In the eyes of the
world, the choice to remain sexually pure prior to marriage may seem unrealistic,
but the facts supporting such a choice remain in your favor. Your sexuality might
be considered a gift from God marked, “For greatest enjoyment, do not open
Nancy Van Pelt is a best-selling
author of 26 books, a Certified Family Life Educator, and Family
and Consumer Science Professional who has conducted over 1,000
seminars around the world. This article is excerpted from her
new book SMART LOVE—straight talk to young adults about dating, love and sex. Her website is www.heartnhome.com.