I published the following post about a year ago and I have received a lot of feedback from it since! Because this practice is so prevalent among Christians today, numerous individuals have asked me about how to deal with with it. I felt it would be beneficial to post it again for my new readers.
I originally posted this in two parts, so I will do the same now. I would also like to introduce these posts with a verse that I recently realized has great relevance to the issue at hand. Keep this question in mind as you read:
Can a man scoop fire into his lap, without his clothes being burned? – Proverbs 6:27
Additionally, I have since written an update to this and its accompanying post, which you can read here.
I think most Christians would agree that having sex before marriage is wrong. After all, Scripture is pretty clear on the topic over and over again. What is a little less clear is the lines we cross leading up to sex. I can’t count the number of dating talks I’ve attended in which some ambiguously intentioned young person asked, “How far is too far?” For many of us, we feel like we’re doing pretty well as long as we’re not going “all the way,” so prior to that boundary almost anything goes.
Because of this mentality, a new trend in Christian dating has developed: sleeping together but not having sex. Countless Christian couples will share a bed for the night without doing the actual deed, and I’ve done it myself. And on some level, it would seem pretty innocent–all you’re doing is sleeping together. That’s not so bad, right?
Well as a person who has herself engaged in this behavior, let me be the first to say that it’s wrong. And if you’re doing it with your significant other, then you need to stop. I know this is a pretty hard line stance, but here’s my thought process…
First, when you share a bed with someone you are tempting yourself unnecessarily. My pastor always says that if your boyfriend can lie down next to you without getting aroused, then he either doesn’t like you very much, or he’s probably gay. While he is overstating his point in jest, I think there is something to that statement. When you are lying under the covers in a dark room next to a person that you’re attracted to, then it will be extremely difficult to set appropriate boundaries. Your judgment will be compromised be your desires, and speaking from my own experience, my desires win every time.
Even if you don’t start out having sex, it won’t be long until you reach that point. You’ll find yourself needing to go further and further to get the same degree of pleasure, and eventually you will find yourself facing the final frontier. For that reason, don’t put yourself in that position. Even if you’re not spending the entire night together, being in bed is a tremendous temptation, so it should be avoided no matter the circumstances.
The second reason Christians should avoid sleeping over is that it compromises your witness. If your roommates aren’t Christians and they see your boyfriend sleeping over, they will likely assume you are having sex. When this happens, we fail to distinguish Christian relationships from worldly relationships in any substantive way.
But even if your roommates are Christian, you can still pull them down with your example. If, for instance, they are wondering about boundaries in their own relationships, and they look to you for direction, then you will be leading them right into temptation. Even if they know you’re not having sex, they may still come to think that sleeping in the same bed is okay, so don’t set them up for such a fall.
Now if you don’t have a roommate and none of the above applies to you, you can still compromise your witness. If, for example, your neighbors see your boyfriend leave early in the morning, the same perception may be achieved, so it is best to be above reproach in this area.
The final reason that spending the night should be avoided is that it is actually very intimate, and in a way that is not appropriate outside the bonds of marriage. You know, we don’t really talk about sleeping in the same bed as being an intimate act, but whenever I woke up the next morning I always felt like I had crossed a major line of intimacy that I hadn’t intended to transgress.
I think this intimacy stems from a lot of things–One, you are imitating the intimacy between married people. Across time and culture, marriages have been consummated when the husband and wife came together in one marital bed. Conversely, a husband might be kicked out of that bed and exiled to the couch if the couple is fighting. That said, sleeping together in one bed can sympolize the union between a husband and wife. The sharing of a bed represents the sharing of a life.
Two, when we share a bed with another person, we are in close proximity for an extended period of time. This, in my mind, is what separates sharing a bed with a friend of the same sex, from sharing a bed with someone you’re attracted to. When I share a bed with a girl friend, we might as well be sleeping in separate beds. I don’t want her all up in my space, and neither does she. In fact, I had to share a bed with an old friend last week, and I woke up in the middle of the night when I felt her nudge my foot back onto my side of the bed.:)
But when you sleep with your boyfriend, it’s a very different story. He lies close to you with his arms around you, and he can feel your entire body against his. Because of this closeness, sleeping together is very intimate for dating couples in a way that is distinct from same-gender friends who share a bed.
And finally, sleeping together is intimate because we are most vulnerable when we are asleep. In a sense, sleeping with someone in such close proximity is an act of trust and commitment. We can let down our guard and be ourselves, trusting that the person will still be there in the morning. Again, this is a kind of commitment that is appropriate in marriage, but should be avoided prior to that time. In a sense, spending the night with someone can be a kind of commitment in which we feel safe and protected by the person who is next to us (especially for us ladies), so for the sake of guarding your heart and not jumping the gun emotionally, you really shouldn’t do it.
So if you are dating someone with whom you find yourself spending the night a lot, talk to them about it. Make a commitment to one another to stop this behavior for the sake of the relationship. After all, this is not about rules and regulations–this is about honoring God and honoring your significant other. When the physical relationship gets out of hand, then it corrodes your relationship with God and your boyfriend, so we should all abstain from such spiritual poison. And if your roommates are doing this, talk to them about it and figure out how to hold them accountable in a way that is encouraging, rather than judgmental.
And finally, enjoy having an entire bed to yourself while you can! Some people hate going to bed alone, but I say relish in it, because the poor guy I marry is gonna be fighting me for bed space. 🙂