On New Year’s Day this year, great anticipation gripped my heart as I walked down the aisle. At the altar stood my soon-to-be husband, Kaizer. We had finally arrived at our long-awaited moment—our first kiss.
This was a big thing for us because Kaizer and I both have “physical touch” as our primary love language. So, when we first got together, we agreed to keep these three things in mind so we could love each other well while following God’s design for marriage.
1. Trust what the Bible says about sex and marriage
Genesis 2 covers the first earthly marriage. After God brought Eve to Adam, Adam marvelled at her “and they [became] one flesh” (2:24); “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (2:25).
To be naked and vulnerable together, without shame, is a beautiful part of God’s design for marriage. Physical intimacy was created by God for married couples (1 Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4) to form a bond that would help them uphold their lifelong commitment to each other.
This Biblical view runs counter to what we see in the world, where sex has become an option for all, whether as a means to bond or as a test for compatibility. As such, no sex outside of marriage may seem limiting in that it “deprives” couples of the chance to “truly get to know” each other. But we also know that extramarital sex brings its share of dissatisfactions, complications, and consequences.
Given our preferred love language, Kaizer and I knew that even just a bit of physical affection would make us want more and more—and would, as Christian author Marshall Segal described it in his book Not Yet Married, lead us into “being swept into deeper and stronger depths of a sea of passion and affection”. 1 Corinthians 6:12 is a helpful guiding principle: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Since self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), we were reminded to rely on the Spirit to retain control of our passions and desires, trusting that this is what pleases God.
2. Set physical boundaries early in the relationship
Having known early on that physical touch tends to create deeper and longer lasting memories for me, this prompted me to set my physical boundaries even before I got into a romantic relationship.
Our culture greatly emphasises feelings and pleasure—doing whatever makes you feel good. This puts great stress on romantic relationships, since couples then feel pressured to keep up the “happy hormones” and “feel good”, which makes physical intimacy an attractive option.
However, doing so can blind the couple to any relationship red flags and could pave the way for an unhealthy marriage or a painful breakup. As podcaster Tovares Grey of Godly Dating 101 put it, the hormones released during physical intimacy create “goggles” that blind the couple to each other’s imperfections. Such “goggles” are dangerous in a pre-marriage relationship where a couple should be working to assess if they are right for each other or not.
Before Kaizer and I got together, I raised the issue. Since we knew that we would struggle physically, we thought it was better—safer—to set high physical boundaries, all while remembering that it would only be possible through God’s enablement.
So we agreed to only hold hands and have very short hugs, saving kissing and more for marriage. To reduce temptation, we also ensured we held our dates in public places and that others were around when we hung out at home.
Our greatest challenge was wondering if we would be short-changing each other by not loving each other the best way we knew how. I was honest with Kaizer about my struggle, that not being able to physically touch him felt like I couldn’t fully “be myself”. He, too, struggled, but did his best to pray for both of us.
However, the good thing that came of it was we learned to love each other in other ways (such as words of affirmation and quality time), which deepened our emotional connection and helped us uncover so many other attractive things about each other.
3. Keep accountable within a trusted community
As our wedding day drew closer, Kaizer and I struggled even more with sticking to our boundaries. Thankfully it was through community that we gained the support and insight needed to help us wait.
After I shared with a close Christian friend about our physical boundaries, she hugged me and told me to ask her and the other sisters-in-Christ for more hugs, since extended hugs are important to me. And throughout the year of wedding planning, she frequently prayed over the phone with me, hugged me whenever we met, and was so thrilled to witness our first kiss on our wedding day, knowing her prayers and support paid off!
I also discussed my struggles with another couple who had shared their first kiss at the altar. Their advice to hold on and trust God’s Word instead of our passions encouraged Kaizer and me to press on and wait. This was my reflection at the end of our talk:
As humans, we experience desires and passions which are in themselves not bad things. However, as Christians, we are not bound to [controlled by] these desires and passions. We have a choice. By binding ourselves to God’s Word, that is where we find freedom, to live His way by His power.
We are thankful to the Lord for blessing us with godly brothers and sisters who came alongside us and reassured us that His ways are life-giving and worth keeping. Knowing that my family in Christ understood how I felt and were willing to journey with me made me feel less alone and helped us stay on course.
Today, Kaizer and I are one month married and are growing together in all aspects of intimacy as husband and wife. We recognise that our decision to have our first kiss at the altar was an uncommon one that still raises eyebrows whenever it comes up. But ultimately, we wanted to do our best to honour God, and this led us to making a commitment that was difficult, but one that we knew we could rely on the Holy Spirit to achieve.
However other couples may choose to set their boundaries, my only encouragement for you is that you would prayerfully discuss them and consider how you can be intentional in your relationship in a way that would bring God glory.
Marriage is God’s idea, and He wants only the best for us. As Christian couples, we should understand His heart for marriage and seek His blessing and help every day of our lives.
Thank You for Your gifts of physical intimacy and marriage. I commit to You now my brothers and sisters who are pursuing godly relationships—that they will set and stick to boundaries that are in line with Your Word so that they will glorify You. Strengthen them and remind them that they are not alone – You are by their side and You are the One empowering them to obey You.
I pray that You will renew our minds and lead us to victory in our fight for each other’s purity. Be glorified and let us, as Your Church, be an example to the watching world of Your design for marriage and relationships.
In Jesus’s Name, Amen.