EVERYTHING IS PERMISSIBLE… but not everything is beneficial


Guardrails & Boundaries – Sermon Notes (Part 1)

My wife recently asked me to speak to our youth members about some of the subjects I’ve been contemplating on this blog. I thought I would post pieces of that sermon on the blog to add to the conversation. This is Part 1–check back later this week for more.

Julie asked me to talk about “HOW FAR IS TOO FAR” tonight.

TO START OFF, I want to talk a bit about boundaries, or guardrails as our friend Andy Stanley refers to them.

What’s a guardrail? (Ask the students.)

The definition of a Guardrail is: a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. You don’t pay much attention to them until you need them. They’re not located in the most dangerous areas. It’s the area on the other side of the guardrail that’s the actual danger. But we don’t really argue why guardrails are there, saying “I could drive there if they took out that guardrail.” The idea is that you’d do less damage if you hit a guardrail than if you went into the danger zone on the other side of the guardrail.

I want to use the idea of guardrails and apply them to our lives. As guardrails relate to life they are: A (personal) standard of behaviour that becomes a matter of conscience. I want you to create guardrails within your own life, personal standards of behaviour—I want you to set standards for yourself—where when you bump up against one of these guardrails, the warning lights should come on that should tell you, DANGER, DANGER, DANGER, you’re about to hit bad territory. It should inform or ignite your conscience. It should be something that protects you from ever reaching dangerous territory.

We need guardrails in ALL areas of our lives. But specifically, I want to talk about boundaries or guardrails in relationships, hence the suggestion of “How far is too far.” What are some guardrails or boundaries you could create in your relationships with the opposite sex?

Now there are some things that are just general knowledge. Most churches of course would promote not having sex until you’re married. Our culture might say “Don’t have sex until you’re ready!” And when I was single, I would say to that… Well I’m ready now! That’s not a guardrail! Telling you not to have sex before you’re married isn’t going to help you much, unless you create some guardrails to help preventing you from doing so before you ever reach the DANGER ZONE!

The majority of us tend to justify sin with the vagueness for which some sin is described in the Bible. Because you don’t have a passage that says, “Thou shalt not force thy tongue down thine throat of thy maiden,” we tell ourselves it’s ok. But the Bible is unspecific for a reason: This is why it is universal across centuries of time!

In the New Testament, a man named Paul wrote a letter to his protégé, named Timothy. He told Timothy this in, 1 Timothy, chapter 5, verse 1, half way through: Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

He advises young Timothy, a man in his late teens, to respect his elders and treat younger women with “ABSOLUTE PURITY.” This applies to you women as well. This is the lifestyle God calls us to as followers of Him. Now, if you’re not a follower of Christ, then you have free reign. But if you claim to believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He is calling you to a life of purity.

So let me give you some examples of guardrails in my own life. Most of you know Julie and I quite well. Most of you didn’t even know we had any interest in each other before we announced our engagement. This was done on purpose. Julie and I… don’t really “believe in” dating. We think it’s a label people put on couples who have an interest in each other, and places certain expectations on the girl and guy of what they should do and how they should act as boyfriend and girlfriend.

  • You should hold hands.
  • Lean on his shoulder. Make it obvious he’s your man.
  • Obsess over him or her by pushing your other friends away and ONLY spend time with him or her, calling him at ALL hours of the night.
  • Kiss a lot, especially in public, just to make it clear to everyone you’re dating.

And in your private time together, you hang out at each other’s homes while your parents are out of the house, for some “ALONE” time. And the list grows of what could happen there.

  • Lying on the couch together.
  • Lying on top of each other on the couch together.
  • Hands get bored and start to “explore”.
  • Lips lock.
  • The tongue usually gets involved in there somewhere.

Suddenly, you start having sex with your clothes on, until your mom comes home unexpectedly and you’re left there looking like you just wet your pants. Isn’t that how dating relationships go? (Tongue-in-cheek!)

Even if they haven’t worked out this way for you, this is what our culture tells us our relationship with our boyfriend or girlfriend should be. Just look at any TV show, movie, music video, song, whatever. They’re all telling you to do this. And many happily oblige!

Did you know that with reference to the Holy Bible, weddings are PURELY secular! There is no wedding ceremony to consummate a marriage. How is it done in the Bible? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.” Sex isn’t just a physical act. It’s also INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL too! Two become one flesh! Your spirit joins together with the other! Why do you think it’s SO painful when you break up a relationship? A romantic relationship is also a spiritual one. In the Bible, you were legally married to anyone you had sex with. Therefore, according to Scripture “premarital sex” isn’t even possible. You have sex? You’re married. That’s it. She’s yours!

Check back this week for more on Guardrails and what Julie and I personally did in our relationship to keep ourselves pure!

QUESTION: What has YOUR church taught you about relationships, and relating to the opposite sex?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)

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2 Comments so far
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Great article. But in the following paragraph I don’t know if you intended to promote the idea of co-habiting with someone you are not married with but that is exactly what you did. Lots of people consider themselves “married in the eyes of God” since they already have had sex so they see no reason to “get married”. This attitude is promoted in this paragraph you wrote:

Did you know that with reference to the Holy Bible, weddings are PURELY secular! There is no wedding ceremony to consummate a marriage. How is it done in the Bible? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.” Sex isn’t just a physical act. It’s also INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL too! Two become one flesh! Your spirit joins together with the other! Why do you think it’s SO painful when you break up a relationship? A romantic relationship is also a spiritual one. In the Bible, you were legally married to anyone you had sex with. Therefore, according to Scripture “premarital sex” isn’t even possible. You have sex? You’re married. That’s it. She’s yours!

This is a very popular view of the Bible but it is completely not true. In the Old testament to if you had premarital sex you were forced to marry the woman (in other words you were not already married) unless her father refused her to you. Or there was the death penalty. When Israel’s daughter had sex with a Canaanite man she was not married to him. He came and asked Israel if he could marry her – the brothers said OK if you get circumcised but then they killed the whole town for “treating their sister like a harlot”. Clearly the sex act was not a marriage act.

What was Jesus doing at the wedding of Cannaan? Clearly a wedding ceremony.

Jesus said to the woman at the well, “you have had five husbands, but the man you are with now is not your husband – you are right in saying you have no husband” – clearly Jesus differentiated between sex and marriage. Just because there is only one account of a wedding ceremony in the Bible doesn’t mean they didn’t practice wedding ceremonies. Jesus talks about the typical Jewish wedding ceremony when he speaks of the ten virgins waiting for the ceremony to begin. The “wedding feast” is a common part of Christ’s and the Apostle’s teaching including the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven.

This idea of being “married in the eyes of God” because of having sex with someone — is not a Biblical idea.

Adam & Eve probably didn’t have a wedding (no one to officiate) and some of the Patriarchs appear to miss that step – although it’s hard to make a case from silence (just because it doesn’t say they had a ceremony doesn’t mean they didn’t). But by the time you get to the writing of Song of Solomon and certainly by the time of the New Testament wedding ceremonies were very much part of the religious culture (and upheld by the authors of scripture).

Comment by bill

Hey bill. Thanks for the comments. I see what you’re saying there. I agree it is possible that it could it could be interpreted that I am somehow promoting that it’s unnecessary to get married. I would suggest that anyone who gets that impression quickly move to Part 2 and 3 of this series to get the full context of what was said.

Beyond that however, it is not clear from your comments that you are making a clear distinction between “getting married” as two becoming one, and “getting married” as a specific traditional ceremony that is common in Western culture today. Without being clear on that, yes, I can see how my comments could be misunderstood. The comment was an anthropological one, not one of spiritual guidance or suggestion.

You state “if you had premarital sex you were forced to marry the woman (in other words you were not already married)” to suggest that a marriage ceremony or some other event to make it “official” needed to take place. But I would interpret what the Old Testament says about this as being that the man then had to take this woman as his wife–not that they needed to start making wedding plans. But rather that the man was now responsible for her, and had to care for her and her needs as a member of his family. If he did not, she would have likely been single and poor for her life, because she was now “spoiled” in the eyes of any suitor.

Further you state “Clearly the sex act was not a marriage act” referring to the Canaanites, while my comments are more about the state of the heart and spiritual life of the person’s involved, again, you’re referring to customs and traditions that surround marriage. That is not the point.

Obviously, a great deal of my message is lost in splitting it up into 3 parts. So I apologize for any misunderstanding.

However, I would gather that your point is to discredit the notion that marriage can occur without a wedding “event”. This is not a point I am trying to argue in these posts. Rather, I am discussing the impact that physical intimacy can have on the heart/spiritual life of someone. I do not think you can argue scripture suggests there is no impact on the heart when someone has sex outside of marriage–and that is the point. Any further parsing is simply tangential.

Comment by Trevor




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