Sleeping Over: Part 2

By March 14, 200914 Comments


Update: Since writing this post originally, I have posted a Part 3 that you can check out here. I hope you will!

Since writing the last post, I have received a number of great questions that I want to follow up on because they are relevant to us all, and they allow me to elaborate on some of my previous points.

The first question deals with whether or not it’s ok for your boyfriend to sleep over, as long as he isn’t actually sleeping in your bed. For instance, you might have stayed up extremely late watching a movie, and he’s too exhausted to drive home, so he crashes on the couch. What are we to think of this?

Again, this draws us back into some seemingly gray territory because it is even more “innocent” than lying in bed together without having sex. If you’re not even in the same room, then what’s the problem?

Well even though my last post focused on the intimacy of sharing a bed together, there are still some points from the post that apply. The first being that no matter what you do with a guy, it’s easy to compromise your witness if he sleeps over. Your roommates have no idea how long he’s been sleeping on that couch (though I would suspect he hasn’t been there very long…), and your neighbors know even less than that. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 teaches us to avoid even the appearance of evil, to flee from anything that even looks like sin, so this verse provides us with a great perspective on this issue.

But in addition to potentially hurting your witness, there are some other elements to factor in as well. I should have mentioned this in the last post, but if you have roommates, especially Christian ones, then you may actually poison your relationship with them if you have boys staying over. I’ve seen this happen a lot–a girl will have a roommate who invites her bf to stay over all the time, and she feels extremely uncomfortable about it. But her roommate never asks if it’s ok, and she gives off the vibe that it’s not up for discussion, so a minor estrangement begins to creep in. For some, it only results in a vague tension between roommates; for others, it can corrode the relationship altogether.

And this can happen even if he sleeps on the couch. While your roommate may feel weird when you two go off into your bedroom and shut the door, it’s awkward having a boy over late at night at all. The reason being that when a boy spends the night, you feel a little less safe and at home in your own apartment. There have been times when I couldn’t even walk around my own apartment in my pj’s because a guy was always around, and I resented my roommate for it.

The bottom line is that having your boyfriend sleep over, regardless of the circumstances, is disrespectful to your roommate. It invades her privacy as well as driving a wedge in between your relationship. So for the sake of your friendship and the health of your living situation, don’t let boys spend the night.

The final point I want to make about sleeping over relates back to the issue of appropriate intimacy. When I first thought about whether or not it’s alright for a boyfriend to sleep over, as long as he’s not in the same bed, I immediately sympathized with the question. From a technical stand point, there seems to be nothing wrong with it.

But the more I reflect on it, the more I am struck by the absurdity of it. With very few exceptions (like in the case of illness, or if you’re staying at your family’s house, etc.), having a guy sleeping in the same house or apartment is just another way of attaining as much intimacy as we can get away with, while also settings ourselves up for temptation.

For instance, say that you live in different cities and he’s visiting from out of town, so you allow him to stay with you. In doing this, you are putting yourself in a very precarious position since you are alone, late at night, with no accountability.

If your situation looks more like the one I described above (he’s there so late that he’s too exhausted to drive home) then the more pressing question is why he was there so late in the first place. If it was really THAT late at night, then odds are I was engaging in behavior that I should have been avoiding in the first place. In that case, I had bigger fish to fry than the mere issue of sleeping over.

All in all, the cons of sleeping over far outweigh the positives. There is really nothing to be gained by having him spend the night, which reminds us of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians: “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” By letting your boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night, then you are no longer seeking to be above reproach as you set yourself up for temptation, compromise your witness, and threaten your relationship with your roommates. Is all that really worth it?


In addition to the clarifications on sleeping over, someone else asked me about the Scripture that one might use in support of what I have argued in these posts. What follows are some highlights…

Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.- Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4

This is written within the very specific context of sexual love. By not awakening love until it so desires, we should not put ourselves in a situation to do something we know is wrong and will later regret.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. –Matthew 5:27-28

We should not engage in any behavior that would lead our boyfriends to desire us in a way that God has forbidden outside of marriage. There is no formula for this because some guys can’t even handle kissing a woman without lusting after her, whereas others are not as tempted by that, but if you are doing anything you suspect would cause your boyfriend to stumble, then avoid it. If you indulge his lust, then you are not loving him as your brother in Christ, and you are disobeying God.

Flee from sexual immorality. -1 Corinthians 6:18

Notice that this verse is not a passive “how much can I get away with” approach to sexual relationships. On the contrary, we are to flee any situation that might lead us into temptation. To try and get away with as much as possible is to buck against the very spirit of this verse.

In closing, I want to you to think of this discipline in your dating relationships as an investment in your marriage. One of the reasons our marriages are so emotionally bankrupt today is that we have stopped setting the institution apart in any kind of definitive way. We want what we want now, so we mimic the love and intimacy of marriage without engaging in the commitment that that love and intimacy require. This instant gratification corruption can play out when we have sex, when we sleep in the same bed, or even when we sleep in the same apartment. But these are not meant to be legalistic parameters, since it is ultimately about your heart. You should be doing everything you can to honor yourself, your boyfriend, and your God. That, at the end of the day, is the question we should be asking.

Thanks to all those great questions!!


  • Tina says:

    Hi Sharon! I just discovered your blog by seeing a link to Joe’s blog on Facebook and then seeing yours on his page. Haha. Anyways, what an awesome ministry this is! We are actually doing a teaching series with our youth right now on sex, dating and relationships. It’s help to hear your thoughts on relationship and sleeping over, and great that you’ve put the Scripture there as well. Thanks!

  • Lisa says:

    I ran across your blog on google. I have been battling the whole sleepover/ shunning the appearance of evil concept and I was seeking help on the subject. Your statement at the end of part two, specifically”I want to you to think of this discipline in your dating relationships as an investment in your marriage” is the only thing that anyone has been able to say to me that makes me see that I need to do some things differently. I am working on a wonderful, God ordained, relationship that I know is leading to marriage and I have a great desire to ‘invest’ nothing but positive into it. Thanks again for this blog.

  • Moriah says:

    Hi Sharon, I was wondering if you have any advice on how to discuss this topic with someone you’re close to? One of my close family members (who is a born-again Christian) has recently started spending the night at her guy friend’s house and it really bothers me because we hold a lot of the same values and morals, and I feel like she’s compromising herself. I’ve tried to bring it up, but she just acts like its not a big deal, saying that I should know they’re not having sex. I would really like to be able to discuss it in a loving, non-judgmental way but I’m not sure how. If you have any advice, that’d be great.

  • beth says:

    please don’t make men the victim by saying we should be cautious not to turn them on. I hate to break it to you but women want sex too, sometimes more than men. Please rethink your ideas and speak out for women. Men need to protect our sexual desires too. Christians need to start believing that it is ok for women to want sex and it is normal for women to get turned on. Men are not the only ones who struggle with keeping their thoughts pure.

  • Sharon says:

    Beth, a couple thoughts: First, this blog is written to women, but if I were writing intentionally to both men and women I would have included a more expansive explanation that included the man’s responsibility. However, that kind of comprehensive response requires more space than is reasonable for one blog post, which is why I have a blog in the first place–multiple posts allow for multiple opportunities to address the complexities of an issue. I would encourage you to check out the rest of my blog–I think you’ll find that speaking out for women is central to me.

    Moriah, that is really tough! This conversation may take time and patience, as well as lots of prayer. Unfortunately, you cannot bring conviction onto another person’s heart the way the Holy Spirit can, but an important step might be encouraging her to plug into a church small group if she isn’t in one already. Community is so important in situations like this–although she may chalk up your opinion to an isolated incident, the witness of a community of believers is powerful and compelling. But most importantly, pray for wisdom, pray for a softening of her heart, and pray for yourself to maintain a spirit of humility throughout it all.

  • Tim says:

    Sharon (and Beth too), believe me that any guy reading this article with even the slightest modicum of discernment will get that he has a responsibility to the woman just as she does to the man. In relationships where they both get that, this is less of a problem of course. It’s when only one side understands that the problem arises, and it can be hard if it is overwhelmingly one-sided.

    I’m glad that you give women guidance here, and I think I might give it a shot for men over at The Radical Journey. Would you mind if I linked back here from there and borrowed from your insights in these two posts, Sharon?


  • Salina says:

    Hey Sharon,
    So I have a question about if the boy isn’t your boyfriend. My friends and I were planning a roadtrip this summer, and there are two boys and three girls (including myself). Both of the boys have girlfriends, but neither one of the girlfriends is coming. I couldn’t find anything in the bible that says that this would be wrong, and we wouldn’t be spending the night in the same bed or anything, but we would all be together. Is this OK?

  • Sharon says:

    Hi Salina! I want to be careful about making strict rules, or giving or withholding permission. I think this issue is more about wisdom than it is legalism. That said, when it comes to issues of holiness, such as this one, God calls us to walk in a careful tension between being aware of our weaknesses but also living in Christian freedom. We are not Pharisees, but we are not to be reckless with our freedom either. I think that if you weigh those different elements of God’s Word and feel like the situation is one in which you are not putting yourself in the path of temptation and walking blamelessly and free, then that is a good indicator of what you should do. Hope that helps!

  • Alex says:

    Sharon is correct.

    It is Legalistic to put in place laws, that are not Gods laws and to instruct others to follow them.

    God is concerned with Oaths being met, and the commitment of marriage is not wholly about sex, but trust, finance, and investment of resources.

    Jesus is concerned with the matter of mercy and grace primarily.

    A couple must follow their own course led by the holy spirit.


  • EMSoliDeoGloria says:

    Yeah… I agree with what you said in this or a different post about not sharing a bed. But sleeping over in a house with multiple roommates shouldn’t be a one-size fits all thing. If your roommates are OK with your boyfriend sleeping in the guest bedroom once in awhile, what’s the big deal? There is accountability and respect present. I’m not really sure how it is different from him sleeping in the spare room at your parents house when you go home together for the holidays.

    Before I got married, I lived in a house with five Christian girls. We had an extra bedroom / sitting room. At one time or another, I think almost all the girl’s boyfriend’s / fiance’s slept over. One was from out of town. One lived a little ways away.

    There can actually be a testimony aspect to choosing, as a couple, to not sleep in the same bed, even though you are under one roof. Your roommates notice – Christian or not – when you are a part at night because you don’t yet belong to each other.

  • marie says:

    i have a 22 year old son he has just started to have a girl over to stay i dont want this for i am a christian but with all this gay thing around my husbad has said it is ok i am finding this so hard, my first son it was no all the time but time has change i also feell ashame to talk to my church about this and how do i talk to my son who feell’s it’s what people do

  • Ashley says:

    The only problem I have with this article is that for many couple, the “appearance” of having sex by having a significant other sleep over is that in out culture today, if you have been together more than a month assumptions are made even if you were to wear a stamp on your forehead that’s says Virgin on it. Ultimately appearances can only be taken at such a value. Even if roommates aren’t in the picture and spending the night is off the table, one should have enough self respect to (and be respected) not cross the boundaries of a premarital relationship. I can say this because I have been with the same person 5 years (1.5 engaged) and we have stuck to the line we established. It’s called self control.

  • Dee Dee says:

    Wow. This really makes a lot of sense. When my boyfriend and I slept in the same bed we woke up feeling weird and confused. We’ve fell asleep cuddling in the afternoon before and felt fine but somehow sleeping overnight felt like we had crossed some line with God. We talked about it and for some reason the need to pray came within me but i was so confused. This cleared up a lot of things for me! This has really been a blessing thank you so much for this article.

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