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How Setting Up Boundaries Saved My Virginity

By: Kristen Clark

My romantic feelings were intense towards him. I’m typically a clear thinker, but my brain cells had turned instantly cloudy. I had no idea how quickly common sense could abandon my sense of reason.

I was in love and on my way to marrying the man of my dreams.

During my relationship and “dateship” with Zack (read more on that here), I experienced emotions, desires, urges, and temptations like I had never experienced before.

I never knew how intense my desire for physical touch was until I was in a relationship with a guy that I really wanted to touch.

I longed for physical contact. I longed to be close to him. In fact, if Zack and I could have been in a perpetual state of hugging, I would have been okay with that.

Every boundary I had ever set became a temptation to me. Zack and I were both committed to saving sex until marriage, but had no idea how weak and pitiful our “self-control” could be at times.

I don’t care how godly, pure, well intentioned, and holy you are – sexual temptation hits us all. If you’re not armed for it, you will drown in a pool of compromise.

When it comes to romantic relationships, it’s extremely easy to mess up. It’s extremely easy to give in. It’s extremely easy to compromise. It’s extremely easy to suddenly “be okay with something” that you always knew was wrong.

I know, because I’ve done it. I learned this firsthand during my relationship with Zack.

We both desired to honor God through our purity, but weren’t fully prepared for the tsunami of sexual desire and temptation that came our way.

We quickly learned that neither of us were above temptation.

Neither of us were above sin. Neither of us were above messing up. We needed some serious ammunition.

Zack and I both made some mistakes and gave into temptation at times during our relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that we were far from perfect.

However, by God’s grace, we never came close to losing our virginity. I am absolutely convinced that I made it to my wedding day, still a virgin, because of one key thing.

Boundaries.

Setting up boundaries helped me stay on track when my flesh was weak.

It helped me know what was right during my “brainless” moments. Setting up boundaries kept me a safe distance from ever crossing the line.

I am convinced that setting up boundaries is one of the biggest safeguards against temptation and failure. It’s foolish to assume you’re strong enough on your own. It’s foolish to say, “that’ll never happen to me.”

A wise girl knows she is capable of sinning and will therefore safeguard her life with intentional  boundaries.

If you’re in a romantic relationship (or hoping to be in one some day) I can’t urge you enough to set up personal boundaries for yourself and your relationship.

Ask yourself this question: When you stand at the altar at your wedding some day, what regrets do you NOT want to have?

For me, I didn’t want to have the regret of kissing any man besides my husband (more on that topic here). So, I set up personal boundaries to safeguard myself from ever kissing a guy.

I obviously didn’t want to have the regret of giving my virginity away before marriage, so I set up boundaries (the no kissing boundary was one of them) to safeguard myself from getting close to that line.

Based on what Zack and I read in the Bible, we made a detailed list of what was physically  “appropriate” during our relationship and what was off limits.

Here are some examples of what physically off limits for us:

  • We will save holding hands until we are engaged.
  • We will never be alone in a house together.
  • We will not go into each other’s bedrooms together.
  • We will save our first kiss for our wedding ceremony (more on that topic here).
  • We will never spend the night in one another’s homes.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Those are just a few of the boundaries that helped us make it to our wedding night with our virginity in tact. Those boundaries were especially helpful when our brain cells went on autopilot.

Obviously a list of rules isn’t the final answer. If your heart isn’t in it, you will squirm around every boundary.

Boundaries are no good without a sincere desire to honor Christ. You must keep your heart and mind focused on honoring God first and foremost. In other words…pray often (I personally regret not spending more time praying during my relationship).

I also encourage you to ask your parents or another godly adult to hold you accountable to your boundaries. Ask them to follow up with you on a weekly basis and don’t shy away from encouraging probing questions.

We live in a promiscuous culture that treats the sacred gift of intimacy as casually as a handshake.

If you sincerely desire to honor God and your future husband with your body, you must establish boundaries.

I want to hear from you now!

I’m guessing some of you already have some boundaries in place.

  • What boundaries do you have and why?
  • What boundaries have you found to be personally helpful in guarding your purity?

Share with me (and everybody else) in the comment section below.

And for those of you who already have great regrets…it’s never too late to restore your future. Please read this helpful and encouraging post: Lost Virginity: Practical Help to Reclaim Your Future

Photo credit: Maxwell Clark 

PS The image above is actually Zack and me when we got engaged. 🙂

Kristen Clark and Zack Clark

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  • This is one of my favorite posts! I am far from having the “relationship status,” but I’m sure that it’ll be harder than I realize to keep my boundaries after reading this!

  • Clarissa

    What tips do you have for single girls living in a tempting environment (i.e. college) who want to keep themselves pure and avoid compromise? How not to get involved with the wrong guy, etc

  • Moriah Mari

    Hey Kristen! So, first thanks for being so open and bold on this subject. I would love for every girl to understand that this isn’t about having rules so you can look down your nose at others this is more akin to finding all the water sources you can so you know what to do when your house starts on fire.:) ‘Cause you’re absolutely right, you will face emotion like you’ve NEVER known! There is something really beautiful about a couple who values each other and God’s created context for intimacy enough to wait for the right time. I’m saying a big “Yes!” to this article. Again, thanks for sharing!

  • Elizabeth Williams

    You definitely have to have specific boundaries in place! I am already planning on them when I do get in a relationship 🙂

  • averyswife

    I absolutely agree with this 100%! Relationship “rules” like y’all’s and those like the Duggars’ may seem outlandish and crazy to some but they really do serve to protect the purity of the individuals in the relationship. I’ll add to your list the importance of having a close friend or family member (or several) to keep the couple accountable. (I know you mentioned it, but I don’t want it to seem like an afterthought because to me, it’s more important than all the others.) That is what my husband and I were missing during our courtship and it led to our downfall many times. Being in love with the person you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with means self-control is thrown out so easily by passion and even with all the best intentions in the world (we set boundary after boundary and then continually crossed them) you can fail to remain pure unless you have a rational individual on the side holding you accountable. Thankfully the Lord gave us strong convictions that kept us pure for each other and I have no regrets when it comes to any other relationships, but we failed in staying pure until our wedding day. Boundaries AND accountability are so important!

  • guest

    Just curious…is that Kristen and Zack in the picture? =) It’s cute!

    • Rachel

      Yes it is! <3

  • Ashlee

    The photo is so adorable!
    My boundaries for being in a relationship are:
    1. Share them with someone to stay accountable.
    2.Enjoy friendly affection- hugs, high fives, etc.
    3. Keep touching to back, shoulders, hands, and arms (not stomach, legs, etc).
    4. Hand holding and a peck on the lips or face are okay with me.
    5. Upon engagement, evaluate with fiancé if (non-extensive, upright) open-mouthed kissing will be affectionate or problematic.
    6. Seek God and enjoy life!! 🙂

  • Cassie Kellogg

    Virginity is a social construction derived from the commodification of women.

  • Aubrey

    I am in a relationship currently for the first time and we have been dealing with what to do with the realm of physical boundaries so much. I never thought that it would ever be such an issue and it is so easy to fall into temptation in even small ways. We both desire to honor God above all else in our relationship and agree on the boundries of waiting for our first kiss until marrige, no sexual intimacy, or touching each other in ways that go beyond showing affection as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are always looking for advise from those who have been through successful relationships. With that said, I was curious as to why you and Zach waited to hold hands until you were engaged?

  • Ama

    I really love this article! Thank you so much for writing this and being honest. I am always hoping for some sort of guidance from a couple who has been through this and made it, but it’s always so hard to find. It means so much and I am so glad for the tips. I am definitely going to find a way for someone to keep me and my boyfriend accountable so we can both honor Christ the way we long to. God bless!!

  • LOVED this post!!! Its so true!!! One of my friends asked me one time what I thought about kissing before marriage. I said that I didn’t think that a kiss in of itself was wrong…Its just that once you kiss, you can NEVER get it back! When I was engaged once, I had made a vow at 15ish to never kiss a man till I got married. When I was engaged I wanted to so badly but I remembered my vow to God and never did. THen we had this horrible break up and ended up NOT getting married! after the break up, there were times that I laid in my bed at night SOBBING myself to sleep, regretting ever holding his hand or hugging him…I wished I had never even done that or shared my heart with him…I’m NOT saying it was sin, BUUUUT I regretted the fact that I had ever given a part of me to him at all. I wanted what I had given back, but I learned that what you give, YOU CAN NEVER get back! There are NO REFUNDS in relationships, so BE CAREFUL what you give!!! On the flip side, I was SOOOO thankful that I had made that vow and I still have MY FIRST KISS to give my husband!

    • Leah

      Wow, that’s powerful, Mary! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me! I just learned a lot in a few seconds!
      I pray God holds your heart and continues to heal you. <3
      I'm going to save my first kiss for my HUSBAND too…not boyfriend, not even if I'm engaged to a guy…cause (to me) a kiss is really special. And I don't want to give that to someone I'm not married too.

  • Leah

    I’m going to do this, and, by God’s grace and strength, stick to it.
    Man, you girls are so encouraging! Thank you for this.

  • Erika

    I believe that boundaries are vital in dating relationships, when my boyfriend and I started dating 4 years ago that’s the first thing we established. We have different boundries then the ones listed above but all boundries are healthily. I want my relationship to honor God always, and to please him.

    The boundries that I have felt helpful are, not being home alone together often, if we are we go cook dinner or go out somewhere. If we ever stay over on another’s house, we don’t share a bed, we used to but recently decided that it isn’t a wise choice. We are not overly physical, we hold hands, hug and kiss but nothing more then that. There is no touching or groping. These are a few of the boundries that we have set in place and we have done decently with them for 4 years. Of course I have realized that it is very easy to comprise your boundries. Word of advice be very careful, it sneaks up on and before you know it you start compromising small things.

  • Erika

    Sexual purity is defiantly worth the wait and I encourage every girl to set boundries so they do not fall into sexual sin or temptation. Some people don’t have the same boundries as you or are a lot more strict with them. What works for one couple might not work for another. First and for most, your boundries should be set to honor Jesus, make them on what he would fine pleasing and honoring to him. If you are unsure what exactly to set as a boundary pray about it, and ask God to lead you. ❤️

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  • Aliyah

    Thank you for this, it’s so nice to know there are other people doing the same as me! What if any, boundaries did you set regarding hugging?

  • Star

    I’m so blessed with this article and also grateful to God for girls who are still willing to take a stand and to follow what God intends in a relationship. I realized that we are all vulnerable to fall into the traps of the enemy, that’s why we should never say the word “never”— “that will never happen to me.” I have encountered a lot of christian girls who said confidently “that will never happen to me” but taking a look at their lives now, it is sad to find them on the same exact situation they said will never happen to them. Maybe the best way to help these girls is through praying instead of being self righteous and bragging of our moral lives. Truly, being pure in this world is never easy but only through God’s eternal grace can we make it to the end victoriously.

  • Jessica

    I mean no disrespect, but just out of curiosity, how did you “mess up” as far as temptation goes if you didn’t even kiss until you got married? I want to be sure I am prepared for anything that may come my way when (God willing!) I am in that position, too!

  • Deborah Huh

    Some boundaries I have are similar to yours, but a different one is that I pray to God if I have temptations in my mind. I also try to stop thinking about it and chase the devil like thoughts away from me.
    In guarding my purity, the boundaries that helped were to avoid physical contact with others and seek after God the most, like you said. I would read scripture verses that related to my situations and circumstances.


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