Can I spend the night if we don’t have sex?

Dear Renea

Is it a sin if I spend the night with my boyfriend, but don’t have sex? I never get to spend a lot of time with him due to us both being in school. I stay with him every Friday, but we don’t have sex. So how would it be a sin to stay with him? We both go to church and we are both saved, but that don’t mean that we know everything there is to know about what’s right and wrong. Thanks(:

Emily,

Thanks for writing. At face value, it is not a sin to stay the night at your bf’s place while still abstaining from sex. On the other hand, I don’t know what not having sex means between the two of you. Does it mean you do everything up to intercourse? Does it mean oral sex? I ask because to many Christians your age (and mine) believe everything up to coitus is not sex, that oral sex is not sex. They are only interested in how much they can get away with, and that kind of life isn’t the abundant life Christ came to give us, not even close. I don’t know if this is you and your boyfriend’s view—and I’m not saying it is. What I do know is that this is the view of the majority of our generation. If this is what you believe about sex, then you may in fact be in sin with your boyfriend. Like I said, I don’t know what not having sex means to you.

If however, you and your boyfriend are two of the rare minority our age who aren’t merely trying to get away with as much as you possibly can—and I hope you are—then you’re probably not in sin. But the better question may be: Are you in wisdom? Staying over at your bf’s may not be sin, but is it smart?

Here are a few questions to ask yourselves as to whether or not what you’re doing is wise:

1) Is it communal? In other words, do you have a solid, intergenerational Christian community surrounding and supporting you and your relationship and do they know about your staying at his place each Friday night? Do they know what happens those nights? Do they love you and him enough to ask you both tough questions periodically, keeping you both accountable?

2) Is it considerate? (Love is always considerate.) Does your bf have roommates? Do they feel put out by your crashing their place once a week (even if they aren’t saying anything or acting like they care)?

3) Does staying together (alone/unaccounted for?) overnight take temptation up a notch? Is it unnecessarily difficult to do what is right? Are you unnecessarily placing yourselves in temptation? Do you stay over when you’re ovulating (hormonal)? Do you even know when you’re ovulating?

These are some questions you and you boyfriend should seriously ask yourselves. I like how you wrote, “We both go to church and we are both saved, but that don’t mean that we know everything there is to know about what’s right and wrong.” I wish more church-going Christians exhibited this attitude; it’s a good starting place for anyone looking to lead a life honoring to the Lord. Let me recommend Lauren Winner’s highly helpful Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. Winner dispels myths about sex (both from the world and from the church), and helps us navigate our romantic lives biblically and realistically. For an excellent book on sin—What is sin? What isn’t it?—I recommend Cornelius Plantinga Jr’s (short) book, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be.

I hope this has been helpful. Please don’t hesitate to write again if you have more questions.

Renea

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2 Responses to Can I spend the night if we don’t have sex?

  1. You know says:

    Rae –

    Good thoughts here, and I like what you say about being “in wisdom”. My heart goes out to you, Emily, because if you’re staying at your boyfriend’s (even if you’re not having sex) and your Christian friends know about it, you’re probably feeling a pang of distance from them, maybe even judgment.

    I lived with my (now-ex) girlfriend and this greatly harmed my relationship with my parents and others who were….well…disappointed in me. I wish this wasn’t the case, but it was. I would take Renea’s words seriously when she asks if you are acting “in wisdom”. Sometimes we have to give up things like this (maybe you could move closer, or maybe he has female friends in his apartment building whose couch you could crash on) in order to preserve important relationships. It’s not worth it in the long run to damage those, trust me.

    Rae – you’re spot on. Thanks for your writing 🙂

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