My thoughts on unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together

I’m going to get straight to the point: unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together is a really bad idea.

Before I go on, let me clarify. I am talking to Christian couples. I assume that Christian couples are committed to sexual purity before marriage. If you are reading this and not Christian, this isn’t a word for you (though by all means keep on reading). I am also talking about unmarried couples. That includes engaged but not-yet-married ones. Furthermore, the issue is holidaying alone. I have less of an issue if they are with other Christian couples and definitely no problem if they are holidaying with one of the couple’s family, or if there’s a chaperone. No problem there.

Okay, now that’s settled, let me keep going…

I know all the arguments for this practice. And it seems to me that it’s growing in popularity among young adults in churches. Some of the reasons I’ve heard are: “It’s not like we’ll be sharing a room.” “Don’t you trust us?” “I know couple x and y and they did it and they were okay.” “Where in the Bible does it say we can’t do this?” etc. etc.

Here are some reasons I would still strongly advise against it: (And at the risk of sounding harsh, I may actually remove someone from leadership if, against all advice, they still went ahead and did it.)

  • Don’t trust yourselves. Friends, the heart is deceitful beyond all things (Jer. 17:9). The devil, your flesh and the world are against you. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that ‘your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ In sum, no, I don’t trust you and neither should you trust yourself. Don’t trust yourself that, in a place of no accountability, under some beautiful starry moonlight night, when you’re both tired and maybe had a few drinks, you’re not going to seriously compromise your sexual purity. Don’t trust yourself.
  • God doesn’t want us just to be minimalists in obedience. The ‘how far before I cross the line’ mentality behind these kinds of holidays is flawed to begin with. This is what the Pharisees did. In contrast Jesus called on them to go for maximum heart-obedience. You might set all these artificial lines for yourself, such as: ‘If we were sharing a bed/room, then that wouldn’t be okay; but if we’re not sharing a room, then it’s okay.’ Jesus said, ‘If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.’ (Matt. 5:29-30) Elsewhere, we’re called to flee temptation (2 Tim. 2:22). Friends, don’t be a legalist and a minimalist. Figure out the kind of life that pleases the Lord and pursue that maximally.
  • We are called as Christians to be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 2:7-8). This is a call for church leaders in particular (and that’s why I may remove someone from leadership over this). Our reputation with outsiders matter… a lot! When your unbelieving friends hear that you’re holidaying alone together, their assumption is that you’ll be sharing a room, having a ‘romantic time’, sexually compromising in all sorts of ways. Now of course you can take the time and effort to explain: ‘No, we’ll be sleeping in separate rooms; we’ll keep our hands off each other; we’ll have a curfew; we won’t get drunk…’ But are you going to be able to explain that to all the outsiders you know? Furthermore, is it going to be convincing, or just sound to them like you really want to do what everyone else does but want to save a little bit of moral integrity? Again, why not aim for ‘above and beyond reproach’? Your Lord Jesus’ reputation is on the line. Why not instead give no one any cause to whisper or doubt?
  • You can wait. You really can. Our generation is particularly bad at ‘delayed gratification’. My fear is that God’s people are, on this issue, just becoming more and more like the world. Why can’t you wait for marriage to have that holiday alone? It really is much more gratifying then, believe me! You can share a room, share a bed, share lots of romantic moments, and (sorry for the crassness) ‘go at it like rabbits’… all for the glory of God! Is waiting a year, two years, however long, really that much of a problem given you might have a lifetime together?
  • Fight the idol of pleasure at any cost. Yes we Christians are being sucked into the hedonism of our world. And we need to actively fight the idolatry of pleasure, which in recent decades, because of wealth and cheaper airfares, is this thing called ‘travel’. Travel isn’t wrong. There are lots of good and pleasurable things about it. But any good thing becomes a ‘god-thing’ when you are willing to sacrifice more important things for it. What are you putting on the altar of this false god? Your reputation? Your purity? Your example and model to younger Christians? Friends, it’s not worth it. Know that there is a greater pleasure in waiting and pursuing God’s will for you with all of your heart.

Okay, over to you. Comments?

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About Pete

I am a child of God, a husband, a father of four children, and a pastor. I live in Sydney Australia and live to see Jesus made famous in this city and be the only God people worship.

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Books, Christian Living, Relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 160 Comments.

  1. you’re an idiot. nothing more nothing less.

    • Hi john. You certainly are entitled to your opinion, but I don’t see how a comment like that helps in the conversation. Care to give reasons?

    • u mad john?

    • Hi Pastor Pete,

      I am engaged to get married in a month. My fiance and I more than once have made the mistake of sleeping together. Every time it happens I feel terrible even feel depressed. I am a leader for a smal womens group at my church and I am considering giving it up. What should I do and will God punish me for failing to fullfil his purpose for me as a womens leader? Please help!

  2. Totally agree Pete, and I have seen even godly Christians who have made this mistake and regret it later…

  3. what do you think of a Christian man and woman holidaying together when they’re not a ‘couple’?

    • Good question Hermione. I think a bigger issue is: what’s the nature of their friendship? If they are both single, how can they be such good and ‘platonic’ friends without the possibility of something happening in such a setting? Or if one or the other is dating someone (or worse yet, married!), I can’t see how their respective partners would be happy with the situation.

      In short to go on holiday together alone in that case just presents multiple complications to their friendship, let alone what kind of assumptions people will make about such a trip (and hence the ‘above reproach’ issue). I would think if they were just friends, why not bring others along with them, or wait until others are willing to join them before they go. Wouldn’t that be a better solution?

  4. Hey! I find this very helpful! I’m a single Christian and I’m not deciding anything about holiday. I was just given a condition where I might have to sacrifice my fellowship time for work. This article has just refreshed my sense of priority and reminded me to be a good example for the younger Christians.

  5. God just wants you to be happy. And everyone is different, you shouldn’t have blanket rules for all people/couples.

    • I think God wants us to find our happiness/fulfilment/joy/satisfaction in Him; not in things such as holidays with a friend who we may or may not be married to. Therefore we can find happiness in obedience to God even if it means sacrificing some worldly gained happiness.

      ‘Blanket rules’ are made to guide us in our relationship with God and in being a good witness or ambassador for Him, that is, if they are based on God’s word. So question these rules every time you hear of one and go straight to the bible to see if it is a useful rule or not. I think Pete has given us a good indication of what God has to say about this particular situation

    • Liv = Fail, where in the bible does God want you to be “Happy” as our society knows it. What happens if my happiness goes directly against scripture and Gods word. Extreme examples, I feel happy beating people up? I feel happy sleeping with multiple women at once, I feel happy taking things that aren’t mine? Does God want ME to be happy when i do these things? No! Does God want me to do these things? No! He wants me to turn from my sin, repent and follow Christ.

      • God also wants us to be loving, including in answering people’s questions. :)

      • That was the edited loving version. ;-)

      • We are the Body/Bride of Christ, so you don’t have to be so mean. Liv does not equal fail. It is for silliness like that that there is such a lack of accord in the Body. What the world needs is a Church that can stand unified. Ridiculing others while calling yourself a Christian doesn’t sit well with those who need Him. Remember, you are His face on this earth, and you may be the only Bible someone who is lost reads. May God continue to teach us all to walk in love

    • Actually, God wants his people to be holy over being happy. So yes, blanket rules for all people/couples are helpful.

    • Happiness is not what God is after. No where in the Bible does He declare that He wants His kids to be grinning ear to ear happy. He wants His kids to be joyous in Him. Joy and happiness is not the same thing. On a human level they look the same, and in dictionaries, they are interpreted the same, but it is not. Concerning trials and tribulations, it is possible because of God to have joy because HE fills us up. No one is happy in a trial. Don’t flow the way of the world, and be so lax as far as relationships go. God wants us to be pure, righteous, blameless.

    • I beg to differ, although the normal human being that I am would LOVE to agree with you. The simple truth is, God is more interested in our holiness than in our happiness. If He just wanted us to be happy, He would have said something like, “Ok Jesus, I’m going to let you off the hook, cos being crucified will be the worst thing you’ll ever experience, and it won’t make you happy.” The angels in heaven don’t go: “Happy, happy, happy is the Lord God Almighty.” Instead, God instructs us to “be holy” as He is holy. So, do seriously re-consider our stand when the world says: “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”.

  6. Great post. I’ve heard christian leaders defend the practice of mixed gender christians who aren’t in a relationship sharing a flat together. Thoughts?

    • Hi Erin, I’ve not given this too much thought so perhaps others who’ve been in this situation can shed some light. I can only think that as a dad, if one of my kids (when they grow up) wants to share a flat with someone of the opposite sex and it’s just the two of them, even if the other person is a Christian and even if one or both of them are dating others, I think I would still strongly advise against it. Probably some of the reasons I’ve listed in my post would still apply in that situation.

  7. I don’t totally agree with your second point. Though, that may be just because I’m a woman, and it’s not so much ‘pushing the line’ in my case?
    In saying that, it’s a good thing for a woman to consider her boyfriend’s inner struggles when making decisions about these kinds of things.

    • Do you mean it’s easier for women to resist? I’m not sure I agree with this. Women’s desire and yearning for intimacy and love is strong and shouldn’t be underestimated. I think it could be unwise for women to assume we can resist sexual temptation. Many a young girl has been caught off guard by intense feelings and made a decision she regrets.

  8. Pete, I feel you miss the point that most un-married Christian couples over 21y/o, who can afford to go on Holidays together have already had the opportunity to sleep together (If that’s what they’re trying to avoid). Think about it, if I live out of home and my Girlfriend lives out of home then we’ve both continually had the opportunity to sleep together, why does this change if we go on holidays together and get separate rooms? Are you saying our ability to say ‘no’ is dependent on location?

    • Hi Nick, thanks for your comments. I agree that there are lots of opportunities for Christian couples who want to sleep together to do so, without having to travel together. However, I would think that the lack of accountability and setting tends to make that struggle for purity more difficult (assuming again they want to be pure). But more importantly, there are other factors involved, and that’s why I think the reasons I give are a package (as they pertain to this particular issue), not just to be taken in isolation.

    • Nick – let’s say you’re unmarried, Christian, over 21, committed enough to your relationship to want to take holidays together, and both earning enough money to live alone – why wouldn’t you be thinking about getting married anyway? So many people are in a holding pattern, too scared to commit but too deeply invested to break up.
      Aside from anything else, your rent will halve, and your holidays will be cheaper because you won’t have to get two rooms ;)

      Also, it still stands what Pete said about being above reproach and setting a good example for both younger Christians and for your non-Christian friends. While that does appear to put more emphasis on the appearance of purity than on purity itself, they are both important things to be working towards. The attitude of “I’m doing the right thing and I don’t care what others think because at least I’m being good” is not a loving or helpful one.

  9. This is a good article…lots of young adults at our church holiday as couples and don’t see anything wrong with it. Also if one of them lives in a different town or city they stay at each other’s houses on weekends when visiting (just the two of them). I have also noticed an increase in the attitude between young christian unmarried couples that being engaged is a committed relationship therefore sex is ok.

  10. 1) for someone who is preaching faith he seems to show a lack of faith in others and apparently yourself. my advice, speak for yourself. your apparent lack of self control does not suggest others inability to stand by their christian beliefs. 2) umm hello christians are the best at being minimalists in obedience. if your daughter was raped and fell pregnant (god forbid) bet abortion is on the table now? suddenly ‘killing’ does not seem so bad eh? exceptions are part of the foundation for christian beliefs. i am sure i can name many more, but my semester finals are more important than replying to this post 3) other people’s close minded, prejudice judgemental speculations about my actions are and should not be my problem. THEY are the ones that need to do some reassessing. 4) if today i am engaged. tomorrow i get married. what has changed besides from some signatures on a certificate? also this delayed gratification point i totally agree, but pete, sex does not have to be just physical, it is highly emotional and it takes the relationship between two people to different platforms, alternatively, it can also ruin a relationship, would you really rather wait till you’re married to realise that? fact of the matter is, sex is NOT just for reproduction in humans, and should not be dictated by anyone else but the individuals involved. 5) pleasure can be defined in sooo many ways. and our strive for pleasure is at the core of what we are.
    All in all. this post demonstrates your paranoia, close-mindedness, hypocritical sense of self and i am SO glad you are not my dad. RELIGION IS NOT RIGID.
    FYI i am catholic, so are both my parents. but for them religion is enlightening, not blinding.

    • If I was a mother, my daughter was raped and she was pregnant, I’d still be dead against abortion. Is it the baby’s fault it’s mother became pregnant in a less than desirable situation? No? Then why should it be killed? Abortion is always wrong, except when the baby is actually endangering the life of the mother.
      For the record, if *I* was raped and carrying some guy’s baby, I’d also still think abortion is always wrong.

      You’re also missing the point that abortion is rarely good for the mother, either. It causes both emotional and physical problems either immediately or later in life.

    • Hi Jess, I am sorry if I have come across (or have represented) that nasty strand of Christianity that you seem to find paranoid, close-minded and hypocritical. Without having a chance to know me, I guess there’s nothing I can do to remove those labels from me, but I wanted to assure you that the Christian life I am writing about and represent is anything but.

      Thanks for posting up your thoughts. I suspect however that there are fundamental differences in our understanding of ‘religion’, ‘Christianity’, the Bible, even catholicism, that would make wading through it all perhaps too difficult in this forum.

      All the best with your semester finals.

    • Hi Jess,

      How could you say that you are Catholic and go against everything that the Catholic Church teaches?

      Firstly, abortion is never okay – killing of an innocent unborn child is definitely in the Ten Commandments and there are no exceptions to the foundation of the teachings of the Catholic Church nor in the foundation of Christian Teaching. Purity is strongly encouraged and a must not because religion is rigid, but because it is the best gift of love that a couple can give one another. The Catholic Church is against pre-marital sex and strongly encourages purity and self-control before and after marriage. Meaning that just because you are married, doesn’t mean you should have sex whenever you wish and just for your own sexual pleasure. Sex is a loving commitment to one another with the intention of giving life.

      I really agree with Pete in all his points against Christian couples not holidaying together. Good, holy and Godly Christians are not minimalists in obedience at all, they are the ones who pursue the best in God’s Holy will for them. We are told to imitate Christ always, do you see Jesus Christ being a minimalist? No way! He obeyed God’s will to the very end, despite the pain, the mockery, the suffering and the betrayal of his disciples.

      Jess, you say that marriage is just some signatures on a certificate? Marriage is a sacrament, a sacred act from God between a man and a woman who consent in giving themselves to each other and each other only for the rest of their lives – for better or worse. It is a promise between them and a promise to God who blesses and watches over their commitment to one another. Please do not say that you are a Catholic, then demean and degrade your Church’s teacehings like that.

      FYI. I am Catholic and go ask your Parish Priest or Bishop if you have any questions, because you clearly do not know your faith very well.

      I’m sorry, Pete for this long reply, but I hope that this will at least clarify some of the misunderstandings that Jess has placed here. :) God bless you always.

      • This needs a like button.

      • Very well though out reply. I agree with Pastor Pete, and you also. Many Christians are compromising themselves and aligning with the world’s view. It’s sad that many are slowly walking that line and leaving their first love behind. “Whom have I in Heaven but You?” I don’t think all Christians understand the intensity of that question,

    • I realized that no one has yet talked about your first point. The faith that we preach of is not faith in each other. Even in a relationship, our greatest faith shouldn’t be in our spouse or our partner, our greatest faith is in God. I have faith in God that he has control over everything and His plans are not to harm me (Jer 29:11). The beauty of this is that we don’t have to and shouldn’t place our entire faith in fallible humans such as us but place it in a God who is infallible. Even though we are fallible and not worth of trust, He made us worthy through His blood and through His grace. That’s the beauty of it all. I believe that Pastor Pete is preaching not based on His righteousness or His own merits but solely on the grace and righteousness of God. Not by his own authority but by HIS authority which is through the word.

  11. Do you think that the same rules should apply to everyone? Isn’t everyone different? Why does God treat every person/couple the same?

    • Hi Liv. I don’t think of this as “rules”, in the same basket as say, the 10 Commandments. As a biblical Christian, I understand most of life to be lived out in the realm of ‘wisdom’ – that is, God doesn’t legislate on a whole lot of things in our lives. The reason is because Christianity isn’t a religion based on rules but on relationship with God through Jesus. And like a marriage relationship, though there are certain basic rules such as no cheating, most of it is lived out in pursuit of wisdom and love. So for that reason I haven’t set out to write rules. What I’ve tried to do is synthesise what God reveals in the Bible so that we’d have something ‘wise’ to say in this circumstance. Though every couple is different and there are always going to be exceptions, wisdom tries to cast a biblical eye over most situations and seeks to get people to walk in it for their good and God’s glory. So my post is not intended to replace God’s Word, the Bible, and I would like to hear critiques and interactions for this reason. But I would prefer if objections can be made on the basis of the Bible and simply upon personal experience or preferences.

  12. Any adult couple can quite easily be alone together as much as they want without others realising, wether they are on a holiday or not.

    While all the above advice is good, it applies all the time. What worries me about the ‘no holidays’ message I often hear is that it can inadvertently send two other messages to the couple:

    1. Your sexual purity is only really of interest to the church when it is in the public eye (as a holiday is generally known about by quite a few people). If a couple aren’t really pastored as a couple, and then suddenly get attention for thinking about a holiday, it doesn’t look good.

    2. Changing your heart isnt as important to the church as obedience. That is, There are particularly dangerous scenarios for sinning and if we just don’t let them happen, we won’t sin (at least as much). The same goes with rules about what music and movies to partake in. With adults, I think the main message needs to be transform your heart, not don’t do x. Colossians 2:21-23 is a key text here. Case in point, sitting under the stars while tipsy is surely a maturity issue, not a just a ‘being on holiday’ problem.

    Now assuming the above advice is given in a context where these two misunderstandings won’t happen, and where the couple is being lovingly and relationally pastored, then great!

    • Thanks for those comments. I agree with you and think that there are broader things to consider from the standpoint of actually caring for and pastoring unmarried Christian couples.

  13. I think we need to be careful of demonising things that may very well be innocent.
    It is like making a 7 year old wear a hijab just in case someone sees her ‘sexuality’ and in doing so sexualises something that is not.
    Perhaps we need to normalise healthy platonic relationships between men and women, and start stomping on gossiping and looking for demons under every bed?

    • Really good point, but how are you going to change the world’s perception? Until healthy platonic relationships *are* normal, there’s no way to combat this.

      • Start in the church. Encourage the best and support when things are not the best instead of trying to develop more rules to regulate or punish the wrong (before they even are wrong!).
        I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call a spade a spade when we need to, but I am dead set against moving into a ‘legislated’ approach to church leadership or fellowship, especially when it serves to isolate and publicise sinners. It is very unhelpful, pushes people away from the church and undermines one of the key characteristics of church fellowship – to come together as broken sinful creatures to celebrate the restorative action of Jesus Christ.

  14. Lisianne Hall

    Thanks Pete. I have always taken this stance, with varying degrees of “are you for real?” back in my face.
    For me, “don’t trust yourself” should be enough, and all the other reasons just add weight.
    Luke and I took this stance (which apparently was a big deal according to others, but we really didn’t think so) and I’m really glad we did. We can, with confidence and with no one to doubt us, say that we kept ourselves pure until the day we were married (at least physically!!).
    Who knew that years later, Luke would become an elder and exec pastor of our church – positions which require a certain level of transparency and “blamelessness.”
    I join with you in praying for our unmarried Christian brothers and sisters.

  15. Couldn’t agree more with you Pete – - purity, blamelessness before others, unnecessary temptation, love for the other, and for the sake of the gospel. Actually Pete – in our church at GracePoint – that’s one of the requirements of leadership that unmarried christian couples who are leaders not holiday together alone for the sake of purity, blamelessness, temptation and the sake of the gospel. If they do, then the expectation is that they step down.

  16. Tele Savalas

    Your words “Fight the idol of pleasure at any cost” have a fanatical tone to them not dissimilar to Taliban or Al Qaeda rhetoric. What do you mean by “..at any cost.”. Should we murder so as to stave off the despicable approach of pleasures..? Really confused, I hope your “faith” is based on rational anwers from rational inquiry, and not the blind faith of a sedate mind.

    • I believe the grammar of the sentence is different Tele…. Rather than “fight at any cost the idol of pleasure” I think he means “fight the idol of ‘pleasure at any cost’”

    • This counter-cultural thinking in a sex-saturated world is anything BUT a ‘rational answer from a sedated mind’. The idol of pleasure in this case is something that pleases and satisfies the flesh and refuses to glorify God. “at any cost” refers to the cost of discipleship and understanding that we when push comes to shove, everything on this earth is counted rubbish in light of the surpassing greatness of Jesus. Never read the bible out of context, at the same time, never read someone’s post or comment out of context because it is from there that misunderstandings and conflict of the church have risen.
      And yeh.. there is that fanatical tone to his heading but that’s just his style of writing. There is no need to look too deep into it because I’m so sure he didn’t have the taliban or al qaeda in mind when he wrote it up.
      Also.. faith is usually never based on anything rational..it’s a trust in the invisible yet living God.

  17. great wisdom pete. thanks for sharing. i’m glad it is getting some good airplay via the share button on facebook! peace

  18. Hi Pastor Pete, thanks for the great advice and reminder.
    I agree with what you said and being in a dating relationship myself, I have forgone holidaying with my bf alone for the reasons you stated. Having said that, it IS hard!

    Especially when almost everyone around you is travelling around and facebook has a way of reminding us what we’re “missing”. Nonetheless, yes, travelling can wait because what is of far more importance, is seeking to please God.

    And yes, I admit it can be easy to have a minimalist approach. The thinking that I’ll try to get as close to the line without crossing it. But the questions then is: where is the line and how sure are you that you haven’t cross it. Or the more important question is: what is the motive of your heart and is your heart and mind pure…. or have you crossed the line over 100 times in your mind.

    I do struggle with it in my mind but I know the grace of God is more than enough for me.
    So as much as I would love to go travelling alone with my boyfriend, I’m sure the honeymoon after marriage will be so much more enjoyable because we choose to wait.

    And yes, it definitely does not apply merely to holidaying alone but every aspect of your dating relationship. Its good to stay accountable to your family or friends and I’m really thankful for the people God has placed in my life that are always there to hold me accountable. Definitely makes me think twice before doing something I know I’ll be ashamed if they knew or if God knew/knows.

    Its worth it, cause your relationship with God is worth it, it cost God his only Son cause He loves us so much! :)))

  19. Good word Pete.

    Proverbs 6:27 says, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?”

    I lost friends in my last Pastorate for advocating this exact position & heard all the same responses you mentioned & those in the discussion thread.

    At the end of the day, it’s a worship issue. What’s more important? A “nice” holiday or the glory of God?

  20. I find it a bit strange that people who clearly do what they want, have a great need to justify what they are doing. if I didn’t believe in God I’d be more than happy to say “yes i am doing what I like. what is legal or illegal concerns me but what is right and wrong doesn’t concern me”

    • Just because something is permissable (or not strictly forbidden) doesnt mean it’s beneficial. This is the key.

  21. Wow… I’m stunned that this is even controversial.

    It’s like planning to fail…

  22. If you can’t stop yourself sleeping with someone because of a physical urge and opportunity, then what’s to stop you hitting someone when you are angry with them because physically that’s what you feel like doing? Because we know it is wrong, and being humans and not animals means we can choose not to act on physical urges if we decide not to. Can you trust yourself and your partner? If not Pete’s advice is great. But I think most christians have good self control, and getting married just so you can go on a holiday is really the wrong reason. Sometimes a holiday is the place where two people really get to know each other without the distractions of others, and find out if they are the right one to marry or not.

    • hellogiggles

      Do you really think that most Christians have good self-control? I’m sorry, but from personal experience, even if you want to maintain your purity, it’s still a massive challenge in willpower and self-control. Christians are still human, which means they still struggle with temptation just as any non-Christian does.

      1 Cor 10:12 – “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” I think it’s best to exercise wisdom in preventing these situations from happening. (And I don’t think Pete meant you had to get married to go on a holiday – just don’t go on the holiday if you’re unmarried!)

    • I think the other point pete was trying to get as aswell is not to be a stumbling block for anyone. People are more willing to point a finger at a Christian doing something ‘dodgy’ and sensationalise it. Just as Paul said he’d rather not eat meat if it were a stumbling block we should not our responsibility as His amabassadors lightly.

  23. Sorry, I’ve have to totally dissagree with you. Whilst I see you have thought about thoroughly, I think you are overanalysing. It is a great way of seeing what you are like in a 24/7 situation without the temptation risks of living together. I have done this before and did not find that there was any significant increase in temptation. In fact it was a great way of seeing how you really appreciate a new place and deal with associated challenges and hence I recommend this to other Christian couples.

    • Saying it’s a trial for marriage might as well be advocating Christian couples living together before marriage.
      Just as we don’t have to have sex before marriage in order to ‘trial our compatibility’, we also don’t have to holiday/live together to see if we can get along in such a situation.

  24. Pete, thanks for taking the time to write this post. I completely agree with you – and to be honest, your thoughts on removing someone from leadership for this made me raise my eyebrows – but after reading your argument, I have to say, I agree.

    Bless you brother.

    David, a brother in the UK.

  25. Hey Pete, really helpful article here.

    As a single Christian guy, it’s sooooo difficult these days to live in a way set apart from the world.

    Well it is for me anyway. Every now and again, God points me towards articles like this, and I have to tell Him “yep, you’re right again Lord! I can’t hide from you!”

    I just want to find a Christian girl, get married within a week and kid myself that then all my problems and temptations will disappear.

    I think I lack good Christian role models to mentor me. Pity you’re the other side of the world!!

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Feels good to get this off my chest.

    • Hi David, I appreciate your honesty. I just prayed for you that you would find: firstly, your hope securely anchored in God’s grace in Christ and that you’d keep deriving strength from that; secondly, for godly mentors; and thirdly, for a life that burns brightly for Jesus whether single or married. Blessings from the other side of the world.

  26. I think unmarried couple holidaying together is not about whether to be unholy or holy. It is more about an issue of giving a living testimony to others particularly to non-believers. On earth, we all can be holy or unholy at any second. In fact, we have sinned since we were born. Unfortunately that status will not change until we die and what happened after we die, it depends on His grace and our faith.
    I have a question, which one is more unholy, a pastor who lives 1m or 1 km or 2 km or 3 km away from Kings X?

  27. Excellent blog! It is great when people put the bible into practical application.

  28. Thank you very much Pete. Your article is very helpful and I think reflects what Jesus would want of us.

    When we are involved with the Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) in Sydney in 90s, we had similar issues and some folks thought we were being ultra-conservative in our approach.

    We really need to be praying and meditating on what it means not to conform to the pattern of this world but to have our minds renewed and lives transformed so that we might be living sacrifices in worship to God.

  29. If God made me, why did he make me an athiest?

    • Hi Michael, how do you know if God in his love and power won’t one day win you over and you may not be an atheist one day? :) Without knowing you personally, that would still be my prayer and hope.

    • I’m from a bhuddist family and that question never crossed my mind when I found out about God. It’s not a matter of God creating you to be an atheist but understanding that even in that antagonistic position towards God.. you still have a choice to make about whether you want to accept Jesus into your life or not. If God isn’t real, He is the least important thing you’ll ever know. If God is real..He is the MOST VALUABLE thing you hold onto for ALL OF ETERNITY. That was God’s challenge to me. I never had time to think about why God made me a certain way. All I knew was I needed to find out whether this God or Jesus person was real. A year later I honestly don’t know how to explain the journey that He’s taken me through. Praying that you would meet your heavenly Father, Creator, Friend and Saviour!

  30. Hope it’s OK to broaden the debate a bit, but have you got any advice on what is appropriate generally for Christian couple who are going out? I’ve read the view which says: A man should treat every Christian woman he is not married to as his sister and so a Christian man should not do anything with someone he is dating that he wouldn’t be happy doing with his sister. In part I’m convinced by this. However, my suspicion is that if you take this approach you’ll never get married because for women to feel loved and appreciated, they need the man they are dating to show some kind of physical affection towards them. Some men might feel comfortable holding hands with, cuddling and kissing (non in the French way) their actual sister, but I suspect the majority of men are not comfortable doing that. I know it’s not helpful to talk about “how far can I go”, but I do think more can be said on the question of what principles should govern expressions of physical affection in a dating/courtship relationship. Some people have said, you know when you’re doing something wrong because you get aroused but that doesn’t really help when talking to a woman can have that effect too!

    Any thoughts?

    • You’ve certainly raised an important question and I wish I had better personal experience with this one in order to answer it well. Unfortunately my experiences in the courtship phase of my relationships have been full of failures and regrets. Thank God for his grace!

      However I do know of couples who are now happily married whose first kiss (of any kind) was at the altar. So while it is true that for many, physical demonstrations of affection are important, I think it is entirely possible for these to be done in non-sexual ways, or ways that don’t involve sexual arousal.

      I think a good principle would be to err on the side of caution, especially for the guys. It takes very little for most men to become sexually inflamed, and once that occurs, it’s very easy for him to lead the lady down the wrong path. Once again, there’s a lot of wisdom in the ‘why not wait?’ and ‘delayed gratification’ principles. Sure erring on the side of caution can be a real pain some times, but if you’re going to marry this person, then it’ll only make all that physical affection even more wonderful when you are married.

      This is definitely a case where wisdom, accountability, openness, communication… those sorts of things are absolutely vital.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help. Maybe others can?

  31. David Disagrees

    Pete – I disagree. Here is why:

    1. A couple will always be above reproach if they don’t commit the sin, regardless of what others think. To say that they are not is dangerous territory, especially if you are enforcing punitive measures such as standing people down from leadership for a supposed sin. Who are we to judge?

    2. You see minimalist obedience as a flaw of the Pharisees. Another of their flaws was taking a legalistic approach to sin and relationships, which the ‘no unmarried couple holidays’ rule does. Yes, the ‘how far before I cross the line’ mentality is poor, but so is the ‘draw the line here’ mentality. They are one in the same! It is only the motivation of one’s heart that matters, having been set free from sin by the death and resurrection of Christ.

    3. When unbelieving friends see two people dating they already think they’re having sex, it doesn’t take a holiday to make them think this. This argument uses a very Christian perspective to frame an ‘unbelieving’ mindset. Again, refer to point 1.

    4. I think a lot of what you’re saying is relevant to hedonism and sin in very general terms (wealth, pleasure, purity etc.), but what specifically makes holidays any different? An unmarried couple will always have both the temptation and opportunity to sin no matter what.

    Holidays are a rare chance for a couple get to know one another on a more day to day level. To see if they can actually live with that person for the rest of their lives. On the extreme end, I know far too many Christian couples now divorced because they were rushed into marriage by ownerous and unbiblical expectations. It’s a shame, and we need to show more understanding.

    • Hi David, I appreciate your thoughts and clear points. If I may, by way of gentle rebuttal to your points:

      1. It seems that the principle of ‘as long as I don’t do anything wrong, to hell with what others think’ (sorry about the paraphrase) isn’t the whole story when it comes to New Testament ethics, otherwise Paul wouldn’t have written chapters addressing the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols in both 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. It seems to me that the principle of love may urge me to refrain from doing something because of how it is perceived in the mind of another. Not that this is an entirely parallel situation, but I just want to question the underlying assumption of your first point.

      2. ‘Legalism’ has been thrown around a lot in many people’s replies to my post, and I think I will have to post something about that separately. However, I think many people misunderstand legalism. The opposite of legalism isn’t ‘no rules’ or ‘no laws’ or ‘no lines’. If that were the case, half of the New Testament epistles would get thrown in the legalism basket! The opposite of legalism isn’t ‘no laws’ but ‘laws written on our hearts’, or ‘obedience to the spirit of the law, not just its letter’.

      3. I disagree. Unbelievers who know Christians and what they stand for see Christians dating (and who aren’t in de facto relationships) and assume they’re NOT sleeping together. Why compromise that assumption.

      4. I agree that what I’m saying applies to hedonism and sin in general. I also agree that holidays are a good chance for a couple to get to know another. I just don’t agree that the only way of achieving that is by holidaying alone together. I actually think holidaying or just plain ‘hanging out lots’ with the other person in the context of their immediate families reveals far more. The other problem with your logic is that it’s just a slippery slope to a Christian couple deciding just to live together, sleep together, ‘try this marriage thing out’ before marriage in order to know if they’re compatible. I suggest that this kind of thinking is devastating for marriages will be the cause of more divorces, not less. (If you want to read further, check out Tim Keller’s book on marriage).

  32. So encouraged to hear you bring a topic such as this to light and challenge what seem to be increasingly compromised ‘lines’ on similar issues. The Scripture you quote is so counter-cultural and the call in 2Tim 2:22 to ‘flee temptation’ should always be a challenge to us no matter how ‘together’ and ‘in-control’ we might feel. Thanks for your thoughts.

  33. David Disagrees

    Thanks Pete, appreciate your time in replying and will keep giving these points some thought.

  34. Hi Pete,
    Just wanted to say that I am a Christian & have read this article, & while I understand where you’re coming from I wanted to say that Christians are just as equal & lowly as everyone else – we can help keep ourselves accountable but I found to state what you said about being “Above Reproach” somewhat wrong- as we are all sinners & therefore expecting to be “Above Reproach” could or should well be seen as physically impossible. Yes, I’m smart enough to know it’s playing with fire, but having just been in this situation myself I can 100% vouch for the fact that it is possible to avoid temptation in such situations. I also think that this issue is something that people at the end of the day need to understand & accept that it is between the Christian couple, & God. Also, Why is there a focus point on issues such as this when there are far more serious issues to be addressing such as gossip, judgement & exile of fellow Christians that are going on in Churches worldwide, which are causing many Christians to doubt & to leavce the Church?

    • Hi Hanz, thanks for your thoughts and I appreciate your humility and tone even though you might disagree with some parts of what I’ve written.

      I think ‘above reproach’ is not an overly high standard for Christians and especially leaders. Keep in mind that part of being Christian is repenting of sin when sin is present, so I think part of being ‘above reproach’ is to openly admit when one hasn’t been ‘above reproach’ in some circumstances and demonstrate in that the grace of God to forgive and restore.

      As for focus, it’s difficult to see based on one post that I’ve done. This is the only one that’s gone somewhat viral and so it’s all a bit of a surprise to me. But a person has to weigh up the entirety of someone’s writing, preaching and ministry before you can note it as ‘focus’. I am a pastor who preaches and writes a lot. This happens to be one issue out of a thousand that for some reason I decided to write on yesterday morning. The other ‘sins’ you mention certainly deserve some teaching about too, but they have to wait for another time. So I guess what I’m saying is, does one post constitute a focus? Probably not.

      Thanks!

  35. Hanz, regardless of this topic’s relative importance to other matters, for those in the moment – as i’m sure you well know – it consumes the mind! It is hard to see the big picture without dealing with the individual strokes of life.

    Pete – here’s a twist. Many couples find themselves in long distance relationships – can your recommendations be extended to situations where one visits the other interstate or overseas?

    One is at home, the other is holidaying

    • Hi Sally, I really sympathise with long-distance relationships and that’s why I don’t want to sound like there aren’t exceptions to the advice I give above. There are many situations that take wisdom to unravel, and so if I sound too ‘blanket’, I apologise. For example, I know of a couple in my church who attended an overseas and interstate wedding together. The girl was a bridesmaid. Now did they go ‘holidaying’? Not really. And they were constantly with friends and others and of course were there under lots of people’s watchful eyes and were fairly accountable. I didn’t make a fuss out of that at all.

      As for long-distance, I think in most of those cases, there are lots of accountability structures in place for the person who is staying (as opposed to the person visiting), simply because there’s often family (if he/she lives at home), or a friendship network. It only takes some ‘upfrontness’ about the nature of the visit and a commitment from his/her Christian friends to keep them accountable for it to be totally ‘above reproach’.

  36. Me and the fiancee have long distance relationship and we have been together for a year,and obviously we didnt really have a choice but been on visiting him twice in the US and shared a hotel room wit the separate bed as the fact that he is in the military and obviously he stay in the barack seems like we have no choice but rent a hotel when i came visit, as much as might be very hars oppinion that could you advised us on this matter pls , in the end of theday we wanted to have a relationship basedon God’s values

    • Hi Ari, see my reply above. I do sympathise with exceptional circumstances, and yours is definitely one I had not thought about. I think your heart is definitely in the right place. I wonder though if it would be better (though more costly) not to share the same room?

  37. I read this article with a mixture of shock, disbelief, horror and pity. Shock because apparently it is ‘for real’. Horror because I see darkness, burning stakes, the Holy Inquisition and all the madness of the Dogma through the ‘righteous’ mists. Disbelief because I cannot, as a rational human being, accept such a massive, brutal and ugly interference in one’s private life and affairs. Not in this century. Not in this culture.
    And finally pity. I pity the poor souls who lead their lives according to such oppressive prescriptions and interpretations. I pity them because they do not even realize that they are simply slaves to other people’s thoughts which they blindly accept as their own. That is the nightmare of the Dark Ages. More than a thousand bloody years ago! This is how crusader butchers, flagellants and Taliban are bred!

    I am a Christian, proud to call myself one, and although I don’t care much about religion, I have Faith. I owe my life to God and my mother and I try to live a decent life so as not to betray one and shame the other. I believe as naturally as I breathe. But even I cannot comprehend the blind fanaticism and bigotry running amok around here. Probably my ‘fault’ lies in my refusal to accept organized religion as the one definitive source of faith and interpretation of the scriptures and the way of life. That is because it isn’t! I believe that Faith is, like God’s spirit, something that lives in each in every one of us and it is an intimate, deeply personal affair to discover, cherish and foster it and live your life fully and bravely among the others, be them sinners or not, for it is not our right to judge anyone but ourselves. Probably that is why I don’t believe in confessions, or sermons, or even communal prayers. Faith is personal and should not be inflicted on others. Especially not with threats of damnation, flogging or ‘removing from leadership’, whatever that means. I do not need and would not accept other people telling me what and how to believe. Too often in history that has lead to disaster, pain and the biggest sin of all – to say ‘I was only following orders’.

    Faith is belief (in God and in yourself) and responsibility. If these are present, sin would not be a threat. And where love is, sin simply is not. You would be wise to remember that.

    A final note – I am neither a Catholic nor a Protestant. Organized religion and its chaotic, senseless denominations really do not interest me. Faith should not be put in brackets and neither should people’s minds.

    • Hi Nick, thanks for commenting. Honestly, I appreciate you writing about how you feel and perceive the state of ‘organised religion’.

      Might I very humbly suggest that your condemnation of those in ‘organised’ Christianity – catholics, protestants etc. – has the same tone of judgementalism and pride that you yourself detest? In order to dismiss the 2 billion or so people in the world who gladly call ‘the church’ their spiritual home and nourishment, you essentially have to take the stance that ‘you know better’. Isn’t that even more judgemental, dogmatic and arrogant?

      Please remember that the Lord Jesus loves his church and died for his church (Ephesians 5:25-27). Yes the Christian community (which is closer to what ‘church’ means) is flawed and can be all those things you’ve said, still, it is the very people that Christ came to redeem – not just individually, but corporately, as a testament to God’s grace. By not willing to be involved in the life of the community of broken saints on the road to eternal life, you are missing out on a big part of what it meant for Jesus to save you, love you and die for you.

      Praying that you’ll reconsider.

  38. This was a really interesting article. Even more interesting were the comments! I think on the whole you give sensible advice for Christians wishing to maintain a strict “no sex before marriage” and would broadly agree with the principles you lay down though it is always possible that “heavy shepherding” can take place and an innocent Christian couple can be easily condemned as a result of good intentions.

    I’m more concerned by some the aggressive comments against the post which really strongly point to the individualism of Western society today. The message seems to be “how DARE you tell me what I should or shouldn’t do? I can decide for myself and I don’t care what it looks like to others”. Living and working in Bangladesh – a very conservative and heavily Muslim country – I see grave dangers in this kind of thinking.

    Firstly, those that say they don’t need to be “above reproach” need to realise the Islamic teaching on these issues is much stricter. To many Muslims around the world, Western women are all Christian AND sleeping around. What you do on holiday DOES matter! In Bangladesh we work hard to maintain a good reputation amongst all so that we earn the right to be able show Muslims that we’re not all like that. It results in wonderful friendships and a new understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

    I know this is a very specific issue I’m talking about here, but I think Western Christians need to be reminded that most of the world don’t share the same faith and what we do – globally – matters.

    That starts in your home, Church and hotel room.

  39. I have heard the ‘don’t travel’ advice from Jensenist circles before. It is pretty weird. Because if travelling outside the cosy, middle class suburban constituencies that most ‘organised’ Christians inhabit is seen as an UNHOLY thing, then I am baffled. But this article is an echo of an extremely odd and inconsistent worldview, with which I am all too familiar.

    So, Pete, your article starts with one favourite Anglican refrain ( (a)the only kind of morality we discuss is sexual morality) and ends with another ( (b)don’t travel, it may broaden the mind). You allude to two others, though not directly ( (c)be obedient by taking as Word the bits of the Bible we cherry-pick and privilege above all others & (d) the devil is all around you and everyone else who doesn’t believe is going to Hell.)
    (a) (b) and (c) are strange obsessions or interpretations. But (d) and (e), which I will come to, are the most inexplicable and dangerous to me. I will explain.

    if it really is the case that those who do not believe in the Anglican way are hell-bound – if that really IS THE CASE. Then what on earth are you doing going about your daily lives as if it is all OK? Still taking kids to private schools in the morning, paying mortgages, worrying about facebook usage, getting on with things as if it’s fine that millions are going to face eternal damnation. There is a real disconnect here.

    But there again, I have heard Anglicans describe homosexuality as a ‘Lifestyle choice’(e). How disconnected to the real world is that? So we then find ourselves at (a) again…….

    • Hi Tim. Thanks for posting your comments. But if I may, by way of response, don’t you think it’s a bit unfair for you to take one single post from someone you (presumably don’t know), who, incidentally is not an Anglican, and lump it in the same basket as a denomination or its leaders with whom you have an apparent gripe with? Perhaps a more constructive path would be to deal with the arguments as they stand rather than import baggage that you have with Sydney Anglicans and therefore make it impossible for me to respond in any sort of rational fashion.

  40. I really think this advice is fine if you’re talking to particularly irresponsible twenty year olds with no self control who need strict rules to keep them from ‘blurring the lines.’ I just got married – my husband and I are both in our early thirties – and we travelled together a lot in the year we were dating/engaged. His family lives overseas and we visited them a few times but we also travelled around while we were away (shared rooms etc – if you want to know what would be really stupid, it would be letting a girl stay in a room alone in some of the places we were). We also went away just to ‘get away’ for the weekend here and there. If we were going to have sex we would have done it on the immeasurable nights that we were alone at each others comfortable apartments – not in a flimsy tent in outback Africa or camping on air mattresses. But we didn’t have sex and there was no way we were ever going to – we were both committed to staying pure until marriage and it really has been incredible for our marriage that we did keep that commitment. So please recognise that ‘dating’ people are not just 22 – people are getting married later and later (not because they necessarily want to by the way – I would have loved to have met my husband at 25.) Give people a little respect, a little trust and the courtesy of believing that when we make a commitment, God gives us self control. To be honest the hard part was the mental shift to the fact that it was okay to have sex once we were married! Thank our good God that I don’t have to listen to people who got married when they were 22 and have no idea what it’s like to be a mature adult dating another mature adult giving advice about dating anymore.

    • Hi GG, thanks for giving a more ‘mature’ perspective on the issue. And I appreciate that you might be frustrated that this sort of advice is needed for ‘irresponsible 22 year olds’ when you see that you are (and were) in a different situation, being older and more mature.

      However, if I can gently push back a little… I’m not so sure it’s fair to the 22 year olds to lump them in together as particularly lacking in self-control. Nor is it fair to assume that those who are more mature are more self-controlled simply because of age. Sure, it may not have been an issue for you and your (now) husband, but to assume that once you’re past the age of 30 or whatever that somehow sexual temptation is lessened or self-control is automatically increased seems to me to be a bit presumptuous? Also, there’s an assumption that sexual purity = no intercourse. I wonder how many couples need to hear that sexual purity before marriage = no sexual intimacy along the entire spectrum. So for many Christian couples it’s not intercourse that’s the temptation, it’s all shades of sexual compromise brought on by being alone and without accountability. And yes I agree that it’s not just holidays that’s the issue in those cases, it includes the many ‘alone-time’ opportunities couples have in each others’ comfortable apartments.

      But good on you and your husband for standing firm and resisting temptation!

      Irrespective, I still stand by the wisdom of not just ‘doing the right thing’ but out of love for others and for the church community, to be ‘seen as doing the right thing’.

  41. Hi Pastor Pete, I think this is a fantastic article and i’m so glad that you wrote on this topic. I hate to agree but the truth is we as christians have set the bar so low, non-believers can’t see the difference between christians and non-christians anymore. I’m for raising the standard of holiness and purity in the church and living our lives according to the standards stated in the Bible. Ps Pete, i admire your courage in writing this article, i may not know you but i think we stand on the same line. Looking forward to more of such writings from you!

  42. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for your message and for the beautifully sensitive way you have dealt with some of the objections in the post.

    I think that your advice is sound but I have some sympathy with David’s viewpoint above. Adding blanket bans and rules for other people to live by – rules, which while wise, are not in the bible – can tend to bring out the Pharisee is all of us.

    The desire to be pure is great and Godly and we should all strive for it but sometimes I think that people stress the appearance of being pure too strongly – you can appear to be pure while all the time your heart is burning with impure thoughts and other people can make up rumours about you regardless of how you behave. When I reflect on how Jesus let the sinful woman wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair – I am concerned that people would not allow him to be in a position of leadership because of his lack of wisdom in trying to show people how pure he is.

    As a church we have a tendency to have a strong “Christian Culture” which you can follow and appear to be the “right kind of Christian” but fails to challenge how much you are depending on Christ at all. I think it is particularly strong when people are brought up in the church but can be bewildering to others who have not grown up in that culture. This can be really difficult with cross gender relationships when people can end up feeling rejected or feel that they are being accused of trying to be inappropriate because someone wants to preserve the appearance of being pure and so avoid being alone with someone of the opposite sex. A lot of the culture we try to strive for is an idealised 1950′s world rather than a biblical culture of depending on Christ.

    Be interested to know your thoughts.

    • Hi Patricia, I think “beautifully sensitive” is something that applies even more so to your comment above. You have my thanks for keeping the tone so encouraging.

      I think I agree with almost everything you’ve written. The ‘Christian culture’ can certainly breed externalism, Pharisaism and alienating for outsiders and “sinners”. I think the solution is more grace, more openness and a culture that finds it ‘ordinary’ to hear about and accepting failure. I can certainly see how speaking out about the ‘couples travelling alone’ issue can contribute to that form of unhelpful church culture and create more judgmentalism. I would hate for that to happen at my church!

      However, I do think that a church where failure is openly admitted, forgiven of, and people restored, has to firstly be gracious but clear about what constitutes ‘failure’. I guess the other extreme that some people seem to be advocating is never to question, never to correct, never to examine or let a person’s action be accountable to his/her brothers and sisters in Christ. Our church culture has also become so incredibly individualistic, so in contrast I would love for people to see themselves as inextricably connected to each member of the body. Therefore my failures, my sin, but also my experience of grace and restoration, affects everyone else.

      I guess what I’m saying is that a church where wise advice is given, failures are identified, leaders are called upon to be model Christians is not antithetical to a church where grace abounds, where people are genuine and not putting on a show, where forgiveness is readily dispensed and sin is not used as a weapon to shame people. That kind of church would be entirely possible, though it may not be any of our experiences.

      It’s what I long for and pray for.

      • Great article and responses. Thanks Pete.
        Seems an increasing number of Christians don’t see sex as related to purity. “Marriage” begins when you commit to each other privately and the public ceremony is just a final tick. So for some Christian couples now, sex is justified outside of marriage as ok if you are “really committed”. How do you counter that thinking?
        Also, what defines “leadership” in your church? Is it any position of serving that you would step someone down from, or just “up front” type roles. Interested to hear your thoughts on these matters, if you have the strength to reply to another post :) cheers. Bruce.

  43. Hey Pastor Pete,
    Great article, couldn’t agree more. Just thought I would leave this note here for you to encourage you to continue to post up biblical wisdom. It doesn’t need to be popular, it doesn’t need to be what is acceptable to ‘most people’. I believe that the reasons you give as a package are enough reasons to steer clear. Very nicely summarised and I will forward my Christian couple friends to this post.

  44. This kind of brainwashing makes me angry and reinforces how glad I am that I am not sucked into the spiderweb of ridiculous rules that make up Christianity, so to speak. It just makes life complicated. If a couple wants to holiday together so what? Good for them! If they love each other and want to sleep together, why the hell not? Isn’t love more important that this purist bs?
    I shook my head with disbelief at the comment ‘Couples should travel with a chaperone’ You seem like a nice guy Pete, but c’mon, what world are you *really* living in?

  45. Dylan Curnow

    I knew Pastor Peter many years ago in the 4th grade. I don’t know whether he remembers me very well or at all. I think we were also at high school together before I changed schools but remember our primary school friendship with great fondness.

    I would like to contribute to this debate by sharing the lyrics of a song by the artist Ron Sexsmith that I find beautiful and inspirational. It expresses the idea of unconditional love more simply and eloquently than I can manage:

    God loves everyone
    Like a mother loves her son
    No strings at all
    Unconditional
    Never one to judge
    Would never hold a grudge
    ’bout what’s been done
    God loves everyone

    There’s no gates in heaven
    Everyone gets in
    Queer or straight
    Souls of every faith
    Hell is in our minds
    Hell is on this earth
    But when it’s done
    God takes everyone

    His love is like a womb
    It’s like the air from room to room
    It surrounds us all
    The living and the dead
    May we never lose the thread
    That bound us all

    The killer in his cell
    The atheist as well
    The pure of heart
    And the wild at heart
    Are all worthy of its grace
    It’s written in the face
    Of everyone
    God loves everyone

    There’s no need to be saved
    No need to be afraid
    Cause when it’s done
    God takes everyone

    ****

    I would Ilke to challenge everyone to put the sexual morality issue in perspective. Surely to be above reproach as a Christian you would have to eschew a little bit more of modernity than an unchaperoned holiday? Sex is such a beautiful, precious and natural part of being a human being. Why do we accept the bible’s archaic view that it will inevitably corrupt and hurt us? Experience teaches us that the repression of sexuality is much more likely to corrupt and hurt us (and the church has a particularly poor record in this department). Is it because it is easier to focus on simple problems where we have a textbook and a formula to follow?

    There is so much cruelty, inequality and suffering in the world. The computer I am typing on was probably assembled in labour conditions that would be illegal in Australia. Likewise the clothes I am wearing. The oil that fuels our cars and our plastics has been the subject of wars that have killed & displaced countless innocent people. Our food production systems often involve considerable cruelty to animals. The majority of our industrial processes are enormously damaging to the environment and to animal and human populations. Surely to challenge the gross and heinous immorality of these processes by refusing to partake of any of the benefits is the only plausible choice for Christians beyond reproach?

    Yet every day we choose to partake of the benefits of modernity and in doing so we are drawing lines and taking a minimalist approach to moral issues that are far more profound than two people expressing their love for one another.

    If you ultimately believe that premarital sex is immoral then I guess the question of whether to address it urgently is either a case of low hanging fruit (ie. a problem that we CAN solve) or window dressing (ie. it’s too hard to tackle the real immorality of the world so let’s focus on something small and local to make ourselves feel better).

    I am writing this as most of my conversations take place with people who largely agree with my point of view already and i find i often learn more by communicating with people who see thuigs from a different perspective (providing it doesn’t become a rant as blogs often do). I am a non Christian who struggles to understand some aspects of Christianity (especially the sexual morality) as I have some close Christian friends. I see the notion of unconditional love as one of the great ideas of human / spiritual life regardless of what denomination or faith and wish there was more people open minded and courageous enough to practice it.

    Anyhow.. Hope somebody finds my thoughts interesting in someway.. Thanks for reading if you got this far..

    • Hey Dylan, great to hear from you! I remember you very well and very fondly. You were one of my bestest primary school buddies and I’m glad to be able to connect with you in some way (on facebook too).

      I really appreciate how, as a humble non-Christian person, you’re really trying to understand the Christian worldview on something like sexual ethics. I know it’s not easy standing outside of the circle to really ‘get’ why we think the way we do, or why God, in his love for us, might want for the things he says he wants of us. This is certainly not the forum to be able to give a proper defense or apologetic for the reasons why, but at least I hope it gave you a tiny little insight into what Christians think.

      Perhaps there’s a couple of ways in which I might tentatively suggest a way forward if you’re really keen on trying to understand this ‘from the inside’ rather than from ‘looking from the outside’:

      1. The Christian view of sex is tied up with a particular view of marriage. You can’t understand one without the other. If you’re willing to do the reading, an excellent book by NY Times best selling author Timothy Keller addresses it: it’s called the ‘Meaning of Marriage’. He gives the best overview I’ve read for a biblical view of marriage and why that’s not just desirable for Christians but for non-Christians too.

      2. It may be difficult to believe, but most Christians actually rejoice in God’s good commands about sex and saving it for marriage. It’s hard to see when you read posts like the one by ‘Frustrated’ below (though I’m incredibly sympathetic with what he wrote), but you really have to see it in action in those Christians you personally know and love and respect, and perhaps you’ll see why it’s not only workable but (for them) entirely desirable. You’ll also come to see that this perception that some have that Christians are obsessed with repression of sexual desire is entirely out of sync with reality. The ‘low hanging fruit’ that you mention is just one part of an entire gamut of human thought and human needs that Christians are concerned about, all out of their joy in God and their love for him. Remember that the majority of charitable organisations in this world that help alleviate human suffering were started by Christians. And very few, except those our media makes notorious, are obsessing about the ‘low hanging’ fruit.

      3. Lastly I guess I just want to remind you (and readers) that I have written this blog as a pastor of a small flock of people over whom I have oversight and care. I want them to be able to live out their Christian lives with integrity and joy. It is to them I have addressed this blog. I’ve never had it go viral before, but here we are. But my goal is not to create a sensation, garner unwanted attention or address people I’ve never met, let alone people who aren’t in the church.

      Mate, thanks for being brave and kind in your comments and willing to engage. I appreciate that integrity and hope that in some way we’d be able to bump into one another. Cheers, Pete

  46. Most of my friends who don’t follow the Christian faith would not care as to whether an unmarried Christian couple has sex or not while holidaying together. They would just say it’s not their business. Of course if the said Christian couple prattles on about their sexual purity to everyone then goes on holiday alone together, there might be a few jokes and eye-rolling but that would be probably about it. Life would go on.

    Ironically enough, if there were a few passages in the Bible that basically said it was okay for people to have committed sexual relationships outside of marriage, there would probably be less pent up sexual frustration amongst pre-married Christians – I for one would certainly be less frustrated. The average age of Christian marriages would probably be a bit older as well. ;) Would the world be any better? Probably not. Would there still be plenty of sexual brokenness? I would say so.

    Good sex, right sex, doesn’t just come from whether someone is married or not. It comes from where the human heart is. One could be married and rape their spouse and one could be unmarried and have some of the most blissful, satisfying and giving sex on the planet. In God’s eyes, who would be ‘pure’? The married person who has just raped their spouse? Or the couple who aren’t married, but are in a long term defacto partnership who have a deep reservoir of committed love for one another, and sex, is one way they express that to each other? Probably neither, come to think of it, as purity comes from Christ’s gift to us. (And of course this is where you come in saying – exactly, it’s his gift on the cross, that makes us want to respond to his grace by thinking seriously about these issues so that we can be good little Christians by not going on holidays alone with our prospective partners). We love to manufacture middle class Christian morality by inferring a great deal of meaning from selected passages from scripture to support a worldview that has been influenced by a method of interpreting scripture, that for Evangelical Christianity stems largely from a Calvanistic influence.

    Having dated a Christian girl who would probably agree with everything this article says (whereas I’m a bit more grey in this area – if you haven’t guessed already), I can attest that it was the most sexually frustrating experience of my life having to date her. It has left me much more jaded then say previous relationships I’ve had where the sex was great, but the relationship just didn’t work out in the end. The amount of guilt and shame she had wrapped with her sexual identity was depressing – and she had never even had sex! (And just for the record, was still a virgin after we broke up – tried my best to be respectful while balancing this with my libido and previous experience kicking in). In fact, the general amount of guilt about all aspects of life that many Christians tend to have is rather saddening. I have just observed this from general conversations with people in Christian circles. Guess it’s a sign of the fallen times aye? ;)

    Basically it’s articles like these that can make me want to withdraw further from my faith, make me feel sick in the stomach, and make me wonder whether I really should call myself a Christian as most of the Christians I associate with, would agree with this article, yet I am not capable of holding such a perspective that is promoted as being ‘biblical’. It’s only when I remind myself that it’s not worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater that I stubbornly persist in calling myself a Christian. I’m not going to give up on my faith, just because I don’t get the ‘no sex before marriage’ jazz. Believe me, now that I’m in my late 20s, I have wrestled with this one ever since I hit puberty, and will carry on doing so as I fail my way to celibacy. Of course, if two people want to wait until they are married and not go on holidays alone together, then they should totally stick to that. Whatever is important for them in their walk with Christ.

    As for me, I have a strong sex drive that can only really be controlled (well more of less with the occasional dalliance) if I stay single…see even though I have a different opinion to this article, I’m still trying to live the ‘right way’ most of the time ha. Oh the irony. And this is why I now tend to avoid dating Christian girls as 1. Most of them have the no sex before marriage purity hang up and I don’t want to put them through the guilt trip they will inevitably have if we date (for the record I acknowledge I have a ‘no sex before marriage’ hang up too – just the more rebellious one) 2. I can’t justify marrying someone just because I’m ‘burning with passion’ and don’t want to feel guilty for putting my libido to use in what is a wonderful exchange of energy when done in a mutually respectful way 3. I can’t be myself around them and 4. I don’t want to have to think about all this crap if I just want to go on a freaking holiday with my girlfriend!!

    Probably the root cause to all this, is that I have a problem with authority! Haha. .Get it! Root cause… oh dear… it’s late, I’m going to bed..

    This is where I sigh, and go, I should just give this all to God and continue on for another day.

    • Thanks for your post. I really sympathise with your frustration and can understand why the inner wrestle you feel is ultimately a theological one: you don’t want to give up on God and the Bible, but there’s this frustrating impasse that makes it so hard not to want to walk away.

      Firstly, I want to commend you on not walking away completely. And secondly, I want you to know that even if you feel like a failure on this standard of morality that biblical Christians espouse (whether you agree with it or not), the God of the same Bible who espouses this morality nevertheless loves you unconditionally and wants relationship with you, warts and all. I’m thankful for that, because I myself fail in relation to God’s perfect standards, both sexually and in innumerable other ways! For that reason I don’t think there’s room for ‘guilt’ to be the primary driving force behind sexual behaviour on the part of Christians. We need to own that we all fail in many ways sexually (virgin or not) but that Jesus is a great Saviour and still loves us and forgives us by his perfect sacrifice in our place on the cross. Really, the Christian person doesn’t exist by guilt and isn’t motivated by guilt, but by this wonderful thing called ‘grace’.

      If I could gently point you in a positive direction (and it’s related to the answer to the post above by Dylan), I would ask that you’d give this book by Timothy Keller called ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ a read. As I wrote above in reply, the biblical view of sex belongs to a broader view of marriage. It does make sense, but only when you put it in the context of a web of other things that constitute the Christian worldview on relationships. Hopefully you’ll be able to get a hold of it and see for yourself.

      Thanks again for posting. Cheers.

    • Hi frustrated, I can kind of understand someof what you’re saying, but if celibacy is something you valued, it’s not as hard as you think.

      Without saying anything that is too much info of my personal life, the short version is, I’ve been married before and I have an extremely high libido (and yes I am a woman not a man). When I was married, I wanted even more sex than my husband provided (and he provided quite a lot). So you can imagine what it was like for me when I lost him.

      But actually I don’t think you can imagine…. because when I lost him, while I still desired sex, I had no desire to actually do it with anyone, if people understand the difference. I greatly desired sex, but had no desire to do it with anyone (other than him, and he since he obviously was unavailable….).

      Despite craving sex, there was never any temptation to not have sex.

      Even meeting a wonderful man who I’m engaged to, as much as I would love to have sex, as much as I have a great desire for him, there is no temptation to actually have it before we are married.

      It’s about self control, and about putting what God wants for our lives ahead of any other desire – and the desire to please God infinitely outweighs the desire for any pleasure.

      There is very little frustration despite not having “any” for nearly 6 years since losing my first husband. At the end of the day, it’s about where your priorities lie and the choices you make about those priorities.

      I wish you luck mate in “controlling your sex drive” – just remember, it’s your drive for God that needs to be controlled most, and everything else will follow…

  47. Wow. I’m in my mid (some would say late) 20s and hadn’t really thought I was all that sheltered – but I can’t believe this is even a thing.

    It’s like writing a post saying don’t put poisonous things into containers labelled food. Even if you’ll always remember it’s there, it’s just a dumb idea. This isn’t legalism, it’s wisdom.

    And I can’t believe this response – I read the post a few days ago, but it was only when Dave linked here that I noticed this thread of quite bizarre comments filled with special pleading.

    I wonder if the commenters here will be looking back with hindsight and questioning the wisdom of their stridency here. I found dating incredibly hard, and throwing fuel on that fire with a holiday alone would have been incredibly silly. It’s odd that it seems to be the unmarried people suggesting they know best here.

  48. i have realised a lot of Christians couple tend to marry at such a younger age. I understand that if it was their true calling to be married at that certain time it would be the right choice… but its like going into a war without having any armour or weapons… being mentally capable to support/lead each other in the right path is crucial and isnt life a challenge? financially supportive and mentally capable to engage in what lies ahead is also another.

    if God put us here to just do this-and-that and never face any challenges then how can we ever express our love for Him. isn’t this the same idea behind not hanging out with JUST Christians but also to be able to be part of the world… i am biblically challenged (sorry!) but i remember there was a verse upon being the light of the world..(or about how salt loses its saltiness)

    i cannot say with absolute certainty that this may be one of the factors that is associated to marriage… but to restrict ‘holidaying’ with complete absolution is another way of saying a couple not being able to trust each other… i understood from what you have said and to be reasonable i actually agree with your arguements (they are all valid points).. but the way that i approach this is rather avoidance rather than confrontation… the same idea behind… you will not kill a person BUT you think about killing the person… isnt it better to confront it and actually NOT want to kill a person based on your heart desire?… (that was just an example – i dont actually wanna kill a person)

    we are never alone… and God will always guide us… and i know how low or bad life gets, He is always there…

    maybe im not making any sense… maybe i am… who knows >.>

  49. Hello, thank you for giving your readers a chance to respond. Here’s what I think: Aren’t there already enough rules, restrictions and condemnations in the bible already, without making more up? I’m quite certain that being a Christian could be both easier and happier than this.

  50. Hi Clarie83 – I think you have missed a big reason for why he has made these suggestions, you have eluded to why the writer made the suggestions too. He has made these suggestions for how we should live so that in the short term we live happier in the long term. The minute we “fall short” because of our sinful hearts, we cause long term problems for ourselves. Purity is the biggest trap of them all! If we do not made fail safes to make sure we are pure now, we will struggle not only now but also in the long term too.

  51. As someone who has been married, sadly doing the right thing AND appearing to do the right thing isn’t enough in some cases. I was married in 1999. I don’t know about outside of the timeframe of 1996-2005 when I left the church I had been attending since I was born in 1980, but in that time, I can guarantee that I was one of only three people (maybe less) who was a virgin.

    While the other young couples pretended to be all “godly” and never let anyone see them spending any time alone at all together and never showing any kind of affection in public, my then-fiancee and I held hands, kissed on the cheek and even *shock horror* kissed on the lips (no tongue). Yet strange how we were one of only a few who didn’t have sex before marriage, and sadly one of only a few who weren’t pregnant when we got married.

    Yet the couples who had sex regularly, and who were pregnant when they got married, never had any say a word to them. They hid their true colours, until the pregnancy could no longer be hidden. Everyone would praise their godliness in relationships, no one ever questioned what they were getting up to, and even after they were married and popped out a few months or even a few weeks after the wedding, no one ever said a word to them.

    Yet my fiancee/husband and I copped all sorts of gossip and “discipline”. Why? because apparently holding hands in public means you MUST be having sex. Even lending my then-fiancee my car when I had a day off uni and my parents could drive me wherever needed, was somehow twisted as to somehow meaning we must be having sex together.

    We got engaged in 1998 and had planned to publicly announce our engagement on my birthday. A week before my birthday I was visited by two ladies in the church who pictured themselves as unofficial elders to basically tell me I should break up with my fiancee because we couldn’t possibly be seriously, and holding hands in public was just too full on. I was stunned – mainly because there were many girls my age in the church who were engaged and some as young as 16 were dating men in the church more than 10 years older than them and they were not given this lecture.

    Why? because I take relationships seriously. I don’t believe in dating every man who will say yes, and I didn’t gush about how hot/cool/spunky every man I laid on was. Because I chose to wait until the man I believed God wanted me to marry to came along to even date a man, there were people in the hierarchy of the church who assumed my lack of dating experience and seeming apparent lack of interest in dating meant that I wasn’t mature enough to be dating.

    Yet the girls who gush over every guy they meet and who sadly were having premarital sex, nothing was ever said to them, because their very obvious interest in snagging a man was interpreted as maturity.

    Basically my church screamed to the world, that getting around with lots of guys = maturity, and waiting until the right man came along = immaturity.

    When I announced my engagement a week after that grill session with the ladies from my church, I could see the embarassment on their faces. Their assumption that because my fiancee was my first boyfriend (which wasn’t even accurate, he was my third boyfriend, but none of the previous two got beyond a few dates before I realised they were not marriage material and I don’t date men who aren’t marriage material), that we weren’t serious, but after we announced our engagement, they realised that everything they had said to me was total rubbish and they’d made a lot of incorrect assumptions about my seriousness about dating.

    It didn’t stop the rumours though. Our openness and honesty was wrongly interpreted as “if they are open about holding hands, they must be having sex behind closed doors”. While all the couples around me played all cool in public and were the ones having sex.

    Sadly that is what churches have come to – so many people sneaking around doing the wrong thing, pretending to be “above any reproach” in public, while those who are open and honest get cut down with rumour and innuendo and accusations and trashed reputations despite having done nothing wrong. I mean seriously… how can holding hands in public imply that a couple is having sex? how does a woman lending a man her car imply that they are having sleepovers – especially when the man lives in a house right next to the church, with one of the pastors as a neighbour, where anyone could walk right in and check who is sleeping over???

    The reality is, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, churches are full of gossip mongers who will destroy the reputations of good people who not only are not having sex before marriage, but aren’t doing anything at all that a SANE person could interpret as implying that they are having sex before marriage.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that unmarried couples should holiday together, I’m just saying the gossips in churches can twist anything. I lost my first husband, I went away on a very chaperoned holiday with my second husband-to-be’s family, all of whom are very stong christians and wouldn’t have allowed us any space to get up to no good. Their daughter’s fiancee came too. But no chance of any hanky-panky. The unmarried boys slept in one room at the entire opposite end of the house, and I shared a room with my young daughter.

    Yet in my old church, this would have been enough to start rumours of premarital sex.

    Come to think of it, one of the things that started one of the rumours was in a church camp, during a small GROUP bible study of around 10 people, a MIXED group, that we’d split into the dorm rooms to hold, a rumour that we must be having sex started because I sat next to my then fiancee on a bed – with two three other people sitting on the bed, and five on the floor in front of us. Because apparently sitting on a bed with three other in the bed, five right next to you doing a bible study must mean that you and your fiancee are having sex together!

    So while it is important young couples don’t do anything that a reasonable person could accidently think they are having sex, at the same time, churches need to stop being gossipmongers and seeing things that don’t exist – trashing people’s reputations when they haven’t done anything that any remotely sane person could imply that the couple were having sex from.

    It’s really sad and no wonder so many young people are leaving churches in droves – when the pious goody two shoes are having sex and only getting married because they are pregnant, while those who are genuinely doing the right thing and not doing anything that a reasonable person could imply anything from, are having their name dragged through the mud, untrue gossip spread, and being confronted and accused of non existent wrong doing by the “leadership”.

    • Hi Julie, I am saddened to hear about the kind of judgmentalism and real legalism of the church you described. And I agree. If you’re in that situation, even doing the right thing can be nitpicked upon and be construed as doing the wrong thing. I guess I wanted to put forward to readers out there that there are really gospel and grace centred churches where being accountable and above reproach doesn’t at all look like the situation you described. I believe that in my church and the churches most of my friends attend, this is the case. I hope and pray you’ve gotten over those terrible wounds and are not only happily married but also in a gospel and grace-centred church.

      • Pete, I wish I could say I was, but I am engaged to a wonderful Christian man, and after we get married and I move to be with him, I’ll be finally attending a church with Christ-like attitudes. Until then I wait… for sex, marriage and a good church.

  52. Thanks for your comment Ron, I have literally no doubt that the writer made these suggestions because he believes that purity in the short term = a better life (or even afterlife!) in the long term, I’m just no longer convinced that he is right about this. In the past I’m sure it meant did make for a better life – protection from having babies you can’t look after and diseases you can’t cure. Now we have other means of protection about these things, and purity is just for God’s sake. Yes it affords us some protection against the emotional pain of intimate relationships, but in turn it deprives us of the joys of these same relationships. Of course if Christian opinion turns out to be correct, then you will reap the benefits in the afterlife.

    And thanks for your story Julie. I guess although I hold different views to most others who have commented on this blog (actually I have genuinely no idea how I found myself here!), we probably all agree that gossip and rumour can be hurtful, and I’m sorry for your experiences.

    I think that both people who follow Christ and those who don’t often benefit from reminders that all that glitters is not gold. There is nothing wrong with a shiny, clean exterior but if too much value is placed on that I guess you can miss what is actually valuable.

  53. Pete, ARE YOU RICH AS A PASTOR???
    i AM FROM Singapore

    • Hi Krystabelle, as a pastor my income is LESS than the median income for Australians, so if a higher than average income is considered rich, then no. However, God does richly provide my family and I more than enough and we consider ourselves very rich by standards of the world.

  54. agree with u in this sense.. things r harder to control when we allow ourselve to be subjected to temptation.

  55. Wow, yes Pete, Im for everything you said. It really requires discipline and surrendering everything before the cross, being a God chaser above all. I’m single now, but this is really food for thought. Thanks for taking the uncompromising stand for Jesus.

  56. Bro great article but personally I think you are just hitting on the surface issue. It’s not about this it’s more about the compromising gospel we are all hearing and receiving from our dear leaders. Anything that does not copy or model after the church in acts is compromised Christianity. So it comes back to the question of Who Jesus is to us, as individuals and as a church.
    Appreciate your article bro but it goes deeper. Sad thing is that there will be believers who would comment that your article is great but really that’s just a symptom of the world being in the church and it’s system polluting the very truth and light of the gospel. We don’t need a revival in our land, but we need now to do revival.

  57. Pete — What about not holding hands? After all, wouldn’t not holding hands lead to a more definite standard of holiness? Or what about not going on dates at all? That is sure to maximize “obedience”. My point is that there is a danger of taking the argument too far… How can I know how far is too far when I’m advising others?

  58. Great post!

    For me as a sister, I think reputation is important. Another important factor is that there should be boundaries set. Why do I let a guy who is not my husband enjoy my sole company when we travel?! Such time/activity/privilege is only given to the one who “Paid the price” of love and commitment being married to me. I have no need to sell myself short by giving away my favors so easily.

  59. Pete, I actually agree totally with your reasoning behind it, that the lack of accountability and being alone for extended periods of time together isn’t that good an idea. But I think everything has its pros and cons.

    But to impose such a restriction, and even at the possibility of removing someone from leadership isn’t that great a thing. It all boils to the individual for taking responsibility for their own walk with God isn’t it? Even at the expense of them failing. God Himself allows free will, even if certain things aren’t according to His will for us because He wants us to obey joyfully and not out of compulsion.

    However, traveling together a a couple does have its pros that other activities don’t provide a platform for. Learning each other’s quirks, away from the hustle and bustle of life to enjoy time together and to deepen the relationship.

  60. It’s funny. I seem to sit on the fence on this issue because arguments on both ends are strong.

    The primary basis is to live above reproach. One thus assumes that this holidaying alone activity is something reproachable. So to this end, it would seem that the value shifts according to the modern day society’s perspective of what is reproachable.

    Yet, obedience to God is something that can’t be compromised. I like how you said obedience is not to be minimalistic.

    However, my take is that to the pure. All things are pure. And our relationship with God is about personal accountability, and our character is an open bible for all to see. If in our daily lives we live above reproach, the simple act of going on a holiday as friends would not give rise to reproachable actions. People usually think of romantic escapades and going at it like rabbits when the couple aren’t above reproach in the first place.

    Think about it. If couples were to go at it like rabbits. They can do it in their own country. Hotels. Private spas. Homes. The holiday makes no difference to the persons character. People look at the holiday and judge it through perverse eyes. Christians should also refrain from doing that. We perceive the actions of others to be bad because in our minds we can’t fathom a pure intent. Sin doesn’t only affect the actor, it colors how we as sinners perceive their actions in a sinful way.

    So to that end. I don’t think there is a case for not having couple holidays. The case is more aptly put simply as living a life above reproach and that applies to both Christians traveling and judging the action.

  61. Hi,pastor pete,this is really useful as my boyfriend lately plan to go for a trip at melacca….because we never go for trip…but well,i understand now….we should not temptated our limit

  62. this is a hard article to read, and harder as a choice. i’m a christian dating a non-christian, and we were planning a holiday together. alas, this article was made known to me and i called it off. my friend is understandably angry (i don’t know the degree of fury, he’s shielding me from it) – and i haven’t the words to explain.

    how do i tell him i can’t? how do i, after saying yes, and planning for it and actually looking forward to it with him, explain adequately that.. no, i can’t?

    help me please, how do i explain this so it’s palatable, or so he’d understand? i feel rotten for doing this, and i know he feels rotten too. because of me!

    • Wow, you have really made a very courageous and difficult choice. I don’t want to at all make it sound like these decisions and choices are easy to make. They are exceedingly difficult, and you’ve done what most Christians would not be willing to do.

      Unfortunately you are in an extra ‘bind’ because the person you are dating, with whom you have planned a holiday, is not a Christian. It is very unlikely that he will understand your reasoning, especially since you had planned to do it in the first place and then have had to call it off. In his shoes, who wouldn’t be furious?

      I don’t think there’s any way to soften the reasons you give him. You probably know already that you owe him a whole lot of apologies, and I would think that even then it might be hard to understand. If he respects you and your beliefs enough, perhaps he will get over it eventually, and I pray that he might. But other than that, there’s nothing that I can advise or you can say that will probably help him understand, short of him actually coming to know Christ personally.

      One more thing though. Your difficult and courageous decisions probably shouldn’t end here. You probably know deep down inside that for you to be dating this guy, regardless of how great he is (I’m sure he is!), is itself a compromise to your faith and the reason why you’re in this situation in the first place. Now that you’ve made the courageous and godly decision to surrender your holiday to Christ, will you go that extra step and surrender this relationship to him as well? I know it’s not easy and I know that this will mean more ‘offense’ and turmoil for you an him, but in reality, for you to keep your relationship with him as an unbeliever there’s only two options: you’re either going to compromise on your love for Christ in order to love him more or compromise your love for him in order to love Christ more (which is what’s happened). 

      Please consider carefully what I’ve written. Have a read of Tim Keller’s book ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ for more on the above or check out this recording of his Q&A session http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl8U4G4Tp3M. God bless you and keep you.

  63. great post! totally agree.

  64. thanks for the succinct post! Yes and Amen!

  65. Hmmm. what is the main reason for not traveling oversea together for unmarried christian couples? Is it because there is a high chance of them performing coitus when they are oversea?

  66. Adirian Newey

    After reading this article, I’ve concluded that Christianity is not for me. I’ve just called my partner and both of us have decided to join Tiesto instead.

  67. Adirian Newey

    ..and by the way, Chuck Norris would approve of this cause when he goes overseas, the world stops spinning

  68. Pete, your article couldn’t come at a better timing. I have shared this with my parents and they loved it. Both my dad and mom, have never been traveled together and have been practicing abstinence ever since they knew each other some 40 years ago.
    I for one have not been at the same level as my parents as I’ve gone on holidays with my ex girlfriends to the extent of sharing hotel rooms. Your article has really put a perspective into why each time I buy lemons , they are full of seeds while the ones my mom buys are seedless. The same goes with grapes too. My current girlfriend’s mother attest to this as well for before knowing me, the grapes she bought were always seedless.

  69. Does this only apply to young adult Christian? how about those who are mid-30s and early 40s? and Only one of them i.e. girl is Christian.

  70. Inspiring article! Just a few questions I had been pondering about: Will these somehow make people rush into marriage just to be able to enjoy what it brings? And what if they regret later? And I wonder what is God’s take on divorce?

    • Hi Christine, I sincerely hope that this won’t encourage people to rush into marriage unwisely. Marriage should be seriously entered in to and I hope that for any Christians considering marriage, there would be some form of pre-marital pastoral care and counselling available to them. As for God’s take on divorce, I preached on it recently. Check it out here: http://www.sermon.net/swccc/sermonid/119910075

      • Only half way through the sermon, but wanted to ask a question…. does that mean you are against prenups in all situations?

        Having been divorced against my wishes, having had no say in it, fought hard against it, even going to court to fight the divorce, I know first hand, here in Australia, no matter how much you are against divorce, you can be divorced.

        Prenups aren’t always a bad thing. Where there are family assets before the marriage that would be effected if the person gets divorced, it can be greatly reassuring for the family, particularly children from previous relationships, to know if their stepfather/mother/other decides they want a divorce, that the whole family won’t be shattered. Just because the couple are sure they won’t get divorced, the family who would be effected financially, aren’t so sure.

        I never thought my exhusband would turn his back on God and me and our daughter. I still wouldn’t have asked for a prenup, just as I am not asking for one now, but if I had children or extended family whose assets I was responsible for and could potentially lose going into marriage, I think it’s a smart idea. I will be paying off the $80,000 my first husband ripped my family off for probably for the rest of my life.

        Also, I think in some situations prenups can actually prevent divorce. Clauses such as if you cheat on your spouse, you walk away with nothing, or if you leave the marriage for any reason other than adultery or abuse, you walk away with nothing, then it gives people an extra reason to work things out.

        It’s sad that we live in a world where extra reasons are needed, but we do live in such a world.

      • Also, just out of curiousity, is it ok for christians to remarry a first spouse after they’ve been married a second time? Not that it’s something I’d consider, but I know others who have done so. Is it one of those cultural old testament things that are irrelevant, or is it something that christians should not do under any circumstance?

  71. Peter, excellent word. I’ve found myself in exactly the same situation albeit in moving together with my partner. It was also a choice of economics (both frugal and living in foreign country) as well as not inconveniencing our other housemates (we were constantly at each other’s houses chatting till late). We gave exactly the same arguments you cited and got the same advice. The result was as you expected. I think the issue stems from the fact that sexual purity is no longer as valued today as it was before, and almost certainly that once this sexual purity is breached once, it’s much easier to break the ‘point of no return’ again. On hindsight, we would definitely have benefited from a pastor (as we did consult our individual leaders) who would give a strict NO rather than ‘I can’t decide for you but this is my strong advice’ because at the end of the day ‘young adults’ of this generation filter advice. I definitely would still admit that even though I push and absolutely agree on keeping sexual purity, I have very poor arguments for it (and I also suppose the arguments need to be updated for the new generations).

    Thanks for the reminder to always be on our toes Peter

  72. Awesome post Pete! May Lord Jesus bless and protect you always! :)

  73. What a nice feed to 9gag :}

  74. I don’t know why, but i really don’t agree about this arcticle and Im a christian, I mean, is not even a sin to do that. And that actually really depends on how we trust ourselves. Isn’t that right pastor?

  75. @ Jason

    Hey mate, you should read all the comments as that question has been answered already.
    And as he even pointed out in the article, “trusting ourselves” (and I take it you mean, to be sure of yourself in not falling into the temptation) is something the bible does not encourage. Infact it really says the very opposite, and gives you actions like “flee from temptation”, “resist the devil”, “stand firm in the faith”.

  76. Hi, how about mixed-gender Christian sharehouses with multiple members of both genders living in the same house?

  77. Christians who really want to please God would understand the message you habve sahred here…I am truly blessed by this! As an unmarried christian, this readingwas worth the while. Thanks:)
    Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a HINT of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

  78. Pastor thankx, 4 the encouraging advices § been realistic to us christian couples. I agree with you and am jst thankful for your words spoke to me in a very clear sound § way. I wsh tht my guy and i could continue getting more guidance from you on keeping our r/ship to be more and more healthy § pleasing in God’s eyes.

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  83. I have been having a sexual relationship with my girlfriend for over two years now. Only recently has it come to my attention that I am doing something wrong. See, I was a sinner but now I do not wish to sin anymore but please listen to my dilemma. I do not want to have sex. I do not delight in sex. I hate sex. I find sex uncomfortable and exhausting. It’s not all that pleasurable for me. I’d rather go a nice walk. I also do not seek after women. I only have eyes for my girlfriend. I am dead to the world and dead to the temptations of sex with other women. I might sometimes get a thought but I abhor sexual immorality now.

    Now here is my situation and it’s colossal. I have lain with my girlfriend, so Biblically am I too assume she is my wife? After all I will only love her. Her Dad has given her too me BUT society would not consider us husband and wife. So what? Am I to abandon her? The Bible says not to divorce your wife. And I am one flesh with her, am I not?

    Also, she lives in London and I live in Glasgow, with 500 miles between us we only spend time under the same roof when we are together. So how do I even sustain a relationship with her without breaking bank. I will if I have to but I will also give her up for the Lord… but what if someone else takes her and her faith fails her and she begins to have pre-marital sex with another? Am I then causing her to sin? But what if I maintain my relationship? Are we causing each other to sin.

    I feel check mated. If only this situation was specifically addressed. I want to marry her but she worries that her Dad will not allow it. I think marriage is the only solution. I want to do it quickly but her Dad is not the most Christian of guys and I feel I’d have a hard time convincing him…

    See my trouble? If only I had been more aware of the issues. What do I do?

    • William, if you can, marry her as soon as you can. You don’t need a fancy ceremony – just go to a registry office (or the British equivalent) and sign the papers. It only costs a few hundred dollars at most. You do not need her dad’s permission as long as she is older than 18. You can always do the fancy ceremony at a later date. Also, a minister can perform a simple ceremony for you as well if you feel you should be married in a church. It costs next to nothing – I have known people who have been married in a simple five minute section of a normal sunday service – just a simple promise in front of the congregation to be together for life.

      If you genuinely cannot get married now for whatever reason, then treat the relationship like a betrothal – in Jesus’ day (and even in some cultures today) a betrothal was the commitment to become marriage that was so serious that it could only be broken by something like a divorce (that why in the gospels, it refers to Joseph seeking to divorce Mary – they were betrothed, committed to be married unless a very good reason came up – in Joseph’s case, Mary’s pregnancy which under any other circumstances would have implied she had sex with another man, was considered adultery and grounds for a “divorce” from the betrothal – but they weren’t married yet and weren’t sexually active).

      Treat your relationship like that betrothal – a commitment to become married unless your girlfriend does something that is biblical grounds for a divorce like adultery. If she has sex with someone else because you have asked her to wait until you can be legally married, then she has committed adultery and you have grounds to break up – but I hope and pray that she would not do that, and even if she does, I hope and pray you could still work through it – adultery allows divorce, but you don’t have to get divorced over adultery – you can choose to work through it.

      I know how hard long distance is – my husband and I spent three years living 800 miles apart – in fact we still do. We see each other for around 1-2 weeks every 3 months with the occasional weekend in between maybe 2-3 times a year.

      Long distance relationships are possible – dating and marriage. I would strongly suggest getting married, but if not, try the betrothal idea. Stay strong *hugs*

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  87. Hi Pete, I do not agree with the disrespectful language that John’s attacked you with. But from the layman’s point of view, a lot of what’s written here really is quite outlandish.

    And even taking the same point of view as a Christian, I am going to have to strongly disagree with your third point. Why should one live his life base on what other people think? If he is happy with the way he is living and also living in a way he deem pleases God, that should be all that matters. People that point fingers and speculate should be immaterial, and it really is none of their business.

    And for you to write “Your Lord Jesus’ reputation is on the line. Why not instead give no one any cause to whisper or doubt?”, honestly that really is quite absurd.

    Christian’s claim that their God is almighty. So can this almighty, all powerful God really not maintain his reputation based on a single man’s action?

  88. Pete, I have read this article and the comments with some interest. I am a Christian and have been brought up in a Christian family (my mum is an anglican priest in England), however, never in my upbringing has any great onus been placed on a need to abstain from having sex in a committed relationship but outside of marriage. My girlfriend and I are very committed to each other and all being well we will marry in the future, I was recently told by my mum and dad that thy would rather have us share a bed in their house and have an opportunity to share in our love than miss out on that love altogether. I personally have the utmost respect for them and hope that no one would feel that this compromises their status as Christians.

    I guess my point/question is, would it not be better to live in the face of temptation (whether it be sexual or not) and actively choose to reject that temptation? My instinct is to think of Jesus in the wilderness, on numerous occasions the devil antagonises Jesus trying to tempt him but rather than ignoring temptation, he actively dismisses the devil. Surely it would be better for young couples wanting to remain “pure” to confront temptation as Jesus would have done rather than hide behind rules set out by others?

    On another note, without in anyway wanting to attack you and your belief structure, is it right to punish people who cannot conform to this set of values? Again, I would highlight the example of Christ in deliberately seeking out tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners for companionship, what example do we set to young people if they are publicly shamed for failing to live up to the church’s high expectations?

  89. Charles Howe

    Hi Pete,
    I have come onto this site by accident, as I was looking for answers to different questions. I thought the article title looked interesting so I read on… But I have to say that I couldn’t disagree more. I feel so strongly this way that i have made an account just so that i can say this, and i have taken time out from something, when i really don’t have the time to do so! I am sorry to say the following, as I feel as though I might be coming across aggressively towards you and other commenters, but believe me I am not. Before I say anything, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone’s opinion matters (no matter who they are), so I am not trying to change your opinion, I am just wanting to put mine out there. I am an English Christian (with links to the Methodist church), and i feel that we are now living in the modern world, and in my opinion in order for religion to survive it needs to be able to adapt to modern times. Things are constantly changing, and religion needs to be able to change with it. It seems as though many of you are living in the past (commenters), and that you now need to step up to the modern day. More and more are throwing away their Christianity at an alarming rate, this is especially the case with the younger generation. You all need to ask yourself this question, why if the religion that you put forward is so ‘perfect’, do so many discard it now?! The new generation don’t need everything that comes with ‘your’ christianity, they need parts of it – one part being that there is always someone there for them when they need someone most. I also believe that Christianity is most definately not a list of rules set in stone, these so called rules, are more like guidelines. These guidelines should be things that people can accept, change to their liking, or discard with completely (within reason!). There NEEDS to be leniency, or as the world moves into the future, Christianity will be left behind. You all should have learnt from the past by now! In the worlds history, whenever there has been a society/empire/country with too many set rules and regulations, they have all collapsed, or the people have risen up. I also feel that i should say that you all have read the bible way too literally! And because of this some have even become too ignorant to ignore simple facts of life and new discoveries. When there is evidence for something, that is when you MUST completely believe in it ( there is no reason not too, it is proven fact, no matter what myths or stories are based around it!), it has turned from belief to fact, and anyone who doesn’t is in the wrong, and is believed in this modern society to be insane. So there is my opinion about it all, and mainly, no one should be forced to do what others say (in no circumstance!), everyone should be able to make their own decisions (without the rules of religion weighing down on them!), as long as it is within the law, then i believe it’s fine.

    Thank you for reading,
    Charles

    Btw, what does it even matter to you readers if a young unmarried Christian couple have sex, and don’t have any regrets afterwards?? Where is it in any circumstance your place to say its wrong??!! You should all care about what matters most to you, if you personally don’t think it is right, keep it to yourself and do what you think is right. Whatever you do don’t go start preaching it to others, and forcing your opinion on them, and making them feel as though they are in the wrong. It is wrong to try and make others feel bad about what they have done. (Sorry but I am going off on one now!) and now I am going to attack the belief that you should not have sex before marriage. If it is the right time, and you are in love with your partner (and you have talked about it with your partner and thought about the consequences together), there should be no reason why you should not have sex. Where is the wrong doing in that?? If there was a wrong doing, God would make some punishment (like making them go blind or something) to say that it is in the wrong. But oh no, nothing happens, apart from enjoyment and no regrets! It has been scientifically proven that nothing bad happens when a couple have sex when not married. So again, if you think that you are in the right, and believe that sex before marriage is against gods will, I will accept that is your opinion, but you can’t put your opinions in other people’s heads. Stop preaching it! Let everyone decide for themselves how God feels about it. Is that really so hard to do…

  90. I understand completely about being totally alone. Here’s my situation. My boyfriend and I want to travel a 12 hour drive from CO to Iowa so I can meet his parents. A friend would be driving along with us. We would be going straight to his parents’ home only stopping for gas on the way. We would be staying in separate rooms, and always surrounded by his family. I am 20 and he is 22. My parents say it’s wrong. His parents think otherwise. I’m not allowed to go, but I was wondering what your thoughts were.

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  92. I’m a born again-madly-in-love-with-Christ believer. I love to travel and I am in a non sexual God first type of relationship. I literally asked my partner 2 minutes ago on when we can go to a holiday destination together. He said it was a bad idea and that we should FLEE from all temptation. I did not get why it was a bad idea because I know myself, he knows himself, where on earth does temptation come in?? So I googled the topic hoping to get why he’d say that. I wanted a more detailed opinion. I somewhat got why he’d think that but also know my reverence for the most high God. I read this blog….I’m answered. Thank you so so so much. I get it fully. I’ll wait Thank you.

    Blessings
    Pops

  93. Thank you for this! God bless you. Needed to read this so much.

  94. I have a question for you… as a Pastor, if your brother came to vacation at your home with his live-in girlfriend (and he tells you he is a believer but you don’t believe he is because of his lifestyle and his girlfriend is not a believer at all) would you let them sleep together in your home? Can you provide scriptural back up for your answer? Many thanks

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