The three categories of relationships

I recently read Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas. It’s a highly recommended read.

According to Hiestand and Thomas, the Bible only presents three categories of relationships between any two human beings. We have the:

  1. Neighbor relationship (sex prohibited)
  2. Family relationship (sex prohibited)
  3. Marriage relationship (sex commanded)

They also go on to propose a radical alternative that shifted my thinking. Rather than engaging in dating relationships prior to marriage, they recommend being in dating friendships. They assert that the former blurs the line between the neighbor and marriage categories, offering the benefits of marriage without its intrinsic commitment. Dating relationships offer a false sense of security, they evince.

So while a man and woman getting to know each other are technically in the neighbor category, they face the juggling act of maintaining boundaries, especially pertaining to sex, while pursuing their biblically-endorsed desire for Couples Nursing. I still agree with Elder T that there’s no indication in the Bible that an unmarried couple should discuss sex. Which is why according to the three categories of relationships, I think it’s best to deliberate on general intimacy, for example, personally, the really adventurous things I want in the bedroom, told in a way that’s edifying and not at all arousing. So I plan on declaring to a potential wife in a Christ-honoring manner, using only words like “intimacy,” “adventure,” “steaming,” “spicy,” or at worst, using words that describe the ideal ANR woman’s breasts, as reverentially as possible.

I agree with Hiestand, Thomas, Elder T and the majority of Christians in emphasizing biblical physical boundaries prior to marriage. However, I keep going back to the fact that the Bible exhorts couples to “let her breasts drench you always,” therefore I see nothing wrong with the only exception being wise, modest discussion of ANR. There’s no contradiction in wanting to be pure before marriage and cautiously discussing ANR with a date. If anything, it glorifies the God who wrote Proverbs 5:19, which sadly the world buries, edits and re-interprets, though plain and obvious in the original Hebrew and several English translations.

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