When it comes to sex, unmarried Christians always want to know, "How far is too far?"
Christian author and speaker Dannah Gresh said this is the number one question she gets asked when she is doing speaking engagements.
Gresh spoke about some of the misconceptions young Christians have about sex with Christian psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery on Friday's Focus on the Family radio program, and told listeners there is really a different question Christians should be asking when it comes to the issue.
Ephesians 5:3 says there should not be "a hint of sexual sin." Gresh cited this verse saying the "question needs to be how far away can I stay? God's standard is there is not a hint of sexual sin."
In her recent book, What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex, Gresh explores the use of the Hebrew word, Yada. She talks about how it is used in the Bible and how it means to be intimately known in the context of a relationship between a husband and a wife.
It is to "deeply know and respect someone," and Gresh said that this concept is constantly being replaced with counterfeit ideas in today's society. She said that even young Christian couples are buying into it.
At a recent speaking engagement at a Christian college a couple came up to her afterwards and told her they wanted to live a life of purity. They shared with her that they spoke at small groups about this topic and they believed they were pure because they had done everything except have sex.
Gresh said that as the boyfriend was explaining this to her, the girlfriend began to cry "because she knew what she was living out was fake and had believed a lie" about where to draw the line.
"If we don't tell our kids where the lines are they will not know that this behavior that is normal for today is a counterfeit that will rob them of the gift they are really waiting for," Gresh said.
And while many Christians are working hard to inform young people of these truths Dr. Slattery asked the author, "What about a 26-year-old woman who is [already] committed to purity, but says I long for intimacy, and beyond that I have hormones and I live in a culture constantly playing on those desires."
Gresh said the main focus should not be a "thou shalt not" mentality. That is like telling someone on a diet that they can't eat chocolate, and they should just stop wanting it. The real focus should be on the benefits.
"I would tell that young woman not only is intimacy better, but social science tells us that the sex is better when you wait – people with the most satisfied sex life are middle aged women in mutually monogamous lifetime relationships. God has a reward for you. He is not trying to withhold something good for you," she highlighted.
Gresh made the point that oftentimes when talking about abstinence the focus becomes about waiting to have sex, rather than waiting to have it in the right context.
She noted that the intimacy of sex is a picture of Christ and the Church, and asked, "If this gift of sexuality is a picture of Christ and the Church, is there any area where we must be more vigilant to protect the truth?"