23 Guidelines to Protect Your Purity in Dating

First of all, remember that if you plant purity today, you will reap a rich harvest, free from shame and guilt. And, by the grace of God, you’ll look back on your life not with regret, but with joyful gratitude. Sexual purity is ALWAYS in your best interest. Be smart, not stupid, and you’ll enjoy the best God has for you!

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

1. Realize you don’t have to date.

Just because lots of other people date doesn’t mean you have to. You can enjoy fun, positive friendships with people of the opposite sex and be involved in all sorts of activities without coupling up with one person.

If you do choose to date, the following guidelines can help you maintain a walk with God and guard your purity. (What follows is an abridged version of “Guidelines for Protecting Purity in Dating,” available at “Guidelines for Sexual Purity.”)

2. If you’re a Christian, only date Christians.

You won’t marry every person you date. But the person you marry will be someone you dated. God says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers . . . what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

There are many contexts in which to do evangelism—dating isn’t one of them.

3. If you’re a committed disciple, only date committed disciples. (And if you’re not a committed disciple, why aren’t you?)

Just because a person is a Christian doesn’t make him or her morally safe or a worthy partner. Don’t expect perfection in the person you date. But do expect character and godliness. (This assumes that you yourself are a growing Christian.)

4. Choose dates by character, not just appearance.

When we judge people by their appearances, often we turn out to be dead wrong—and meanwhile we may have made foolish choices.

5. Realize Christ is watching and is with you all evening—wherever you go and whatever you do.

He is watching you because he is omniscient. He is with you because He’s omnipresent, but as a believer He is with you in a very special way: you are His holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:15).

6. Realize where you go and who you go with will influence your sexual desires.

When we put ourselves in a godly atmosphere with godly people, we are influenced toward godliness. When we put ourselves in an ungodly atmosphere with ungodly people we are influenced toward ungodliness. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (I Corinthians 15:28).

7. Realize your date is your brother or sister in Christ—not your “lover.”

“Treat older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:2). A rule of thumb is, don’t do anything physically you wouldn’t do with your brother or sister.

If a Christ-centered, positive relationship develops, then you might move to cautious displays of affection such as hand-holding. But be alert to the difference between appropriate affection and intimacy. You must stay safely back from the line where either one is propelled toward sexual intimacy.

8. Focus on talk, not touch; conversation, not contact.

Treat your date as a subject to listen to and understand and appreciate, not an object to experiment with, conquer or satisfy your desires.

9. Avoid fast moving relationships and instant intimacy.

Pace your relationship. A car moving too fast is likely to swerve out of control when it hits a slick spot. Keep your foot near the brake. Don’t let this relationship get out of control.

10. Plan the entire evening in advance, with no big gaps.

Gaps always get filled, often with temptations to sexual impurity. Know what you’re doing and either stick with the plan or go somewhere safe, where you’re in the sight of others (particularly others who respect the need for purity).

11. Avoid setups like the plague.

Setups include such things as being alone on a couch or in a car late at night or in a bedroom. Determine to stay away from the setup, rather than putting yourself in the setup and having to call on your convictions when your resistance is at its lowest, and you’re most likely to give in.

12. Be accountable to someone about your physical relationship.

This should be a committed brother or sister in Christ, usually the same gender as you. It should be someone who takes sexual purity seriously, someone with wise advice, who will pray for you and help hold you accountable to high standards.

13. Pray together at the beginning and end of each date.

Commit the evening or day in advance to the Lord. Ask Him to be pleased in everything you do. Plan to pray at the end of the date to thank Him for it. Knowing this prayer is coming will help you to be sure to control yourself and please God.

14. Imagine your parents and church leaders are watching you through the window.

Would that change how you behave? Then realize your life is not private—it’s an open book to be seen by a watching world: "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

15. When you sense the temptation coming, before things start to get out of control, RUN.

“Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). When it comes to sexual temptation, it always pays to be a coward.

16. Write out your own standards and enforce them yourself—never depend on your date.

You as an individual are fully responsible and accountable to God for what you do (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

17. Make your moral decisions in advance—not in the time of temptation.

If it’s left to your feelings in the moment of truth, you’ll make the wrong decision. Again: in the moment of strength make choices that will serve you well in the moment of weakness.

18. Memorize Scripture on sexual purity and quote it when tempted.

“I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). When the attacks come—and they will—be ready to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

19. Don’t do anything with your date you wouldn’t want someone else doing with your future mate.

Somewhere out there is the man or woman you’re going to marry. What do you want them to be doing now with someone else? “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

20. Look out for the “moral wear down” of long dating relationships and long engagements.

It’s easy to wear down in the battle for sexual purity, to begin to rationalize that you’re really a couple. Don’t get engaged until you can put the wedding in sight. When you’re engaged, you can be deceived into slipping into some of the privileges of marriage before marriage, especially sexual intimacy.

21. If you’ve violated some of these guidelines, confess, repent and implement a plan to prevent future violations.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Even if you are no longer a virgin you can and should commit yourself to secondary virginity—to remain sexually pure from this day forward. You need more than good intentions to maintain your purity: you need a plan which includes avoidance and accountability. If you are committed to a relationship with a growing Christian, formulate a plan to prevent falling back into premarital intimacy.

22. Be radical—do whatever it takes to guard your sexual purity.

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus tells His listeners to do whatever is necessary to deal with temptation. Get creative, get radical, and do all you can to avoid temptation.

23. Count the cost of impurity.

Rehearse in advance the devastating consequences of sexual sin and you’ll be less likely to commit it. Even a forgiven person must deal with many consequences to his sin. God removes guilt, but He doesn’t always remove consequences.

God forgives when we sincerely repent, but if we sincerely repent we will show it by taking necessary steps to avoid temptation. 


photo credit: A Couple Walking with Shadows via photopin (license)

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries