Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Four Ps of Broken Sexual Boundaries

I was around 20 years old. We were both Christians. She was beautiful and I was smitten when I realized she liked me. Soon we were making plans for marriage.

We spent a lot of time together. Here is the progression of how things went bad; from innocent to immoral but that wasn’t the intention. First hands touch, then holding hands, then hugs, and somewhere in there comes that first electric kiss.

The first kiss is simple and short but as time goes on they linger. During this time, hands begin to caress the body.

So the day came: we were alone at my house, kissing and caressing on the couch. Soon my hands went places that should be reserved for a married couple. We went to my bedroom.

That changed everything. That now defined our time together. We may have gotten together to go to church or do ministry but we always ended up in the same place we went that day. Sadly but thankfully our relationship fell apart after a short time of this.

It took many years for me to come to grips with what happened. It seems like denial to say that I never had an intention for things to go where they did. What kind of deception came about that allowed it to happen and then to continue? At what point in the kissing, etc., did sin begin? As some would say, “How far was too far?”

My point in all of this is to show that good intentions or lack of bad intentions were not enough to protect us. We started down a pathway that was like a boulder rolling down a hill. It’s a path that is good in marriage but not outside of it.

After many years, I came to understand how things ended up where they did. Here are the Four Ps that I think explain it: Proximity, Privacy, Passion, and Progression.

  • Proximity is being physically present with someone. 
  • Privacy is being somewhere where you are alone and it’s not likely that someone will see what you are doing. 
  • Passion usually results from physical contact: kissing, caressing, etc and the motor starts running and picking up speed. 
  • Progression is the God designed path that begins with touch and ends with intercourse.


Proximity alone is not bad. When you like someone, you want to be near them. Privacy alone is not always bad. A phone call is private and the corner of a coffee shop can be private. When you put the two together things can change. If a relationship does not include physical touch then proximity and privacy would not be a problem but in most relationships there is touch. Passion and progression are also closely linked. In a dating relationship, physical touch leads to passion and passion brings progression.

If you recall my story, you can see the Four Ps in action and this is where "boundaries" usually break down. Passion is a very hard thing to control. In marriage, you can let passion flourish and progress to the end, which is sexual intercourse. In dating, the common question is "How far can we go?" That presents a problem. It's like racing to the edge of a cliff and slamming on the brakes hoping not to go over the edge. The honest admission would be to acknowledge that we like the feeling of intimate stimulation and want to experience it at deeper levels. The problem of progression also shows up here. In the beginning, holding hands was amazing but after you have kissed passionately, just holding hands is not quite the same. When you are together in a private place, you pick up where you left off and move a little closer to intercourse each time. Without intending to cross your "boundaries", you end up going over the edge.

While our intention may not be bad, I think we need to realize how prone to sin and deception we are. We want to believe that we can do certain passionate things in private and not end up in trouble. A big problem is that it feels good and a feeling of closeness can soon turn into sexual stimulation. That wonderful feeling is great in marriage but outside of that we are playing with fire.

If you find yourself resistant to these ideas consider if you might be leaving room to slip up. I heard someone say that he and his girlfriend were trying not to have sex yet they continued to go down the same path. They gave opportunity for failure. Another problem is alcohol or recreational drugs as that almost guarantees bad judgment and results.

I think the only completely safe boundary when engaging in touch is avoiding proximity and privacy together. I'm not talking about the privacy of a phone call or the corner of the coffee shop but the kind where you are alone and it’s not likely that someone will see what you are doing. Now if you are just holding hands that may be different but once you start kissing and caressing the danger becomes real. I tell you from experience that you can quickly become blinded by deception when certain things are done. Don’t take the chance. As I look back, if I had known and followed that advice a lot of heartache could have been avoided.

I would appreciate your thoughts and input.
A PDF for sharing: