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Maybe you just caressed one another above the waist as you kissed. Maybe it was just a long, lingering kiss goodnight.Would you describe whatever you did as "holy and honorable," or was it done to satisfy the "passionate lust" of you or your partner or both (1 Thess. Were you honest with the person about making a commitment to him or her before the Lord, or did you defraud or deceive that person in some way?As a good initial principle here, we should affirm that sex itself (and sexual activity in general) is not inherently negative or sinful.

I'll start by putting my position right on the line: I believe the Bible to teach that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sin, and all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity. As the questions above indicate, however, many single Christians have questions about whether premarital physical activity at some level beyond kissing is OK.

We need to address the whole spectrum ("just kissing" included). First, the fact that "romantically oriented" is in italics above is important.

Was your purpose for doing what you did to build that person up spiritually — to make that person "more holy" (Eph. Do you believe that you and your partner "honor[ed] God with your bodies" in doing what you did (1 Cor. Whatever you did, did that interaction reflect "absolute purity" (1 Tim 5:2)?

Was there "even a hint" of sexual immorality in what you did (Eph. Whatever you did, as you now think about it, does it inspire a comfortable peace or an uncomfortable shudder to remember that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit observed it all?

In Song of Songs, God has given us a holy and beautiful picture of a marital sexual relationship, and everyone seems to be having an excellent time.

Even there, however, God is clear that sex is uniquely for marriage: "Do not arouse or awaken love before it so desires (i.e., before it's appropriate — within marriage)." (Song 2:7) A blog comment or two emerging from the last column suggested a different interpretation of this verse and Song in general, but the orthodox interpretation of the book suggests both that an actual sexual relationship is part of what the narrative relays, and a context (at the time of the sexual part of the relationship) of marriage.

How are we to relate to everyone else (especially believers), and how does that question inform the topic of premarital sexual activity — including kissing? As a lawyer, I almost never see absolute statements.

The simple answer is that every believer to whom I am not married is my brother or sister in Christ, and I am to act accordingly. Honor one another above yourselves."); Romans 13:8-14, especially vv. It's the strongest possible language Paul can employ. 4:3-8 gets even more specific: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

We all know what we're talking about here, and these are not the things I mean to address in this column.

The game changes when two people are romantically involved or "semi-involved" (a fascinating phrase I recently heard). Before you start throwing things at your computer — I can't feel it you know, you're just hurting your own computer — let's go to Scripture.

Many wanted to know, did I really mean no physical intimacy? Isn't it sex outside of marriage that Scripture explicitly prohibits?

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