There are many different opinions and absolute methods being kicked around these days as to what "courtship" and "betrothal" are, what is acceptable behaviour during courtship and so on.  Here we will examine what the Bible says.  If our opinions or methods do not match the Bible, then we need to change our opinions and methods.  The Scripture remains true.  

2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works.

This includes how to find a wife/husband, how to go about courtship, how you should behave and how both families should behave.

Finding a Spouse God's Way

A Solution to the Kissing Question

Many people think kissing goes with dating and flirting, no questions asked. Others say it should only be done after engagement. We hold that it should be saved exclusively for the wedding and after. Until then, if folks would strictly adhere to this principle, a lot of people would stay out of trouble! Enjoy.   :-)

Paying the Bill

Walking up to a department store's fabric counter, a pretty girl asked, "I want to buy this material for a new dress. How much does it cost?"

"Only a kiss a yard," replied the smirking male clerk.

"That's fine," replied the girl. "I'll take ten yards."

With expectation and anticipation written all over his face, the clerk hurriedly measured out and wrapped the cloth, then held it out teasingly.

The girl snapped up the package and pointed to a little old man standing beside her. "Grandpa will pay the bill," she said.


1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Editor's note:  Steve Van Nattan-- Ordinarily we do not encourage the men to come to the ladies' section of the Journal to read.  This item is an exception since we, ladies and gentlemen, are in this dilemma together.  We must ALL deal with it NOW.

How Much Touching Is Acceptable?

By Mary Van Nattan

One area in which there are different opinions today is on the subject of just how much touching is "OK."  The word of God is not silent on this subject.  Let's see what God's standard is.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

To defraud is "To rob or deprive by a wile or trick; to cheat." (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, p.180.)  In the context of the verses, the defrauding is in relation to fornication, at least in part. When people commit fornication, they are defrauding the other person's future spouse, and each other. This can even be said if the two people end up marrying each other.  They have defrauded each other of the great blessing of arriving at their wedding day pure and undefiled -- virgins.  We are to possess our vessels, our bodies, in sanctification and honour not in lust!  It is the Gentiles, the unsaved, that know not God and are lead by their lusts into fornication.  Fornication will not happen when people are living up to the high calling of God.

Now according to the scripture, the way to get into to fornication is by touching someone that is not your spouse or allowing them to touch you.  1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.  Well, stop and think - did anyone ever get into fornication without touching the other person?  No, it's impossible!  So, the best way to stay out of trouble is to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HIM and DON'T LET HIM TOUCH YOU.  Mothers, don't allow this kind of behaviour to go on with your young people!  This applies to even "in fun."  A lot of touching and feeling goes on in so-called "fun." If the guy just wants to push someone around a little or pull someone's hair or give someone a friendly hug, then why doesn't he do it to his mom or sister?  Well, he may to his sister, but the danger of touching in "teasing" or "friendliness" is that even if the motives are not bad to begin with (which we don't believe), they go wrong very easily.  

The idea has been presented to the effect of "What would you want someone to do with your future spouse?" Well, any sensible person wouldn't even want them holding hands with anyone else. This might fall into the defrauding category too. And if not, it leads to fornication which definetly is defrauding.

Hand shaking can even fall into the catagory of ungodly touching.  I have seen people getting a whole lot more out of a hand shake than just a greeting gesture.  One old man was too cute and cozy with the young ladies for it to be called innocent.  Another young couple that were supposedly not allowed to hold hands were allowed to sit close to each other and also to shake hands.  Well, they got a lot of milage out of that hand shake and out of sitting side by side, and it wasn't just "brotherly love" either.  (A simple principle is, that if you don't feel comfortable shaking hands with men because of their behaviour or because of your own flesh, then don't shake hands.  If they think you are rude, too bad.  It is better to please God than man, and the forgotten etiquette of yesteryear was that the man never offerd his hand first anyway.  The lady had the right to choose whom she would shake hands with and whom she would not.)

One web page I saw gave out the incorrect notion that it is alright for an engaged couple to touch each other more. This is not so.  Probably the worst time to be touching is during the betrothal.  This is a very serious time. The couple can be easily tempted to think that it's alright to start taking liberties because "We're going to married soon anyway." As one friend of ours pointed out from personal experience, "You can get in trouble just looking in each other's eyes at that time!"

According to the Bible during the betrothal the lady is already considered the man's espoused wife.  This is the only time that divorce in allowed Biblically and the reason is for fornication.  Of Joseph and Mary the Scripture says,   Luke 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  She was called his wife already.  And we find in Matthew 1:18,  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  He was already considered her husband and he was going to put her away for her fornication, but they were not officially married yet.  This makes things very clear when Jesus says in Matthew 5:32,  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.  A woman can be a man's wife (espoused) before they are married and therefore be put away (divorced) for fornication (which occurs before marriage). In our day, this is breaking the engagement. (Note: Biblically, an engagement should be almost as binding as a marriage. Sadly, it is not treated so in many cultures.)

Lest anyone question whether a betrothed girl is a wife, Deuteronomy 20:7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.  She was his wife, but he had not taken her yet.  They were not yet married.  (This verse also shows how seriously God views betrothal.) So, fornication is still possible during the betrothal, therefore, it is necessary to continue to abstain from touching until the touching will not lead to fornication any longer. This time comes at the wedding and no sooner!

Ecclesiastes 3:5 ...a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  Now, some folks may not like the idea, but there is a time when even brothers and sisters ought to learn to keep their hands off of each other so much.  Again, no one ever got into incest without touching each other.  This may even apply to small children with older children in some cases.  I remember seeing a teenage fellow running his hands over his small sister in a way that was revolting.  I don't know what he meant by it, but it looked bad, and the fellow did have a problem with girls.  Two teenagers, brother and sister, that we knew were so cozy with each other that a friend of ours felt uncomfortable about their relationship.  Probably nothing evil was going on, but it looked bad. The Bible is clear on this.  We are to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1Thessalonians 5:22. Remember, we are not to be like the Gentiles.  They are likely to mistake the things we do for their own wicked lust if we don't possess our vessels in sanctification and honour.   Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.   2Corinthians 8:21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 

So, we conclude that touching is not right between courting couples, betrothed couples, friends of the oppisite sex "just having fun;" and of course, people that are married should only be touching their own spouse.

2Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  In this case, it's the touching that leads to uncleanness, so it is good not to do so because by abstaining we will stay out of fornication!

Editor:  Steve Van Nattan:  I have watched many times as suave, debonair hustlers worked the church foyer in a touching campaign.  They sidle up to a young married lady.  Mark it, the lady's husband refuses to attend church with her, so she feels beholding to the men of the local church for attention in the Lord.  The hustler squeezes her elbow and says, "Sister, we are praying for you."  His spiritual counterfeit zeal disarms her, and he gets his hormones charged by a free touch.  Are you ready?--?--? He is also her pastor.  Pastors in Fundamental churches are getting real cozy these days with hugs and elbow squeezes.  However, the worst offense is found in Charismania.  Some hustling pastors and church leaders will even get full embraces as they blubber and jabber glibbly in spiritual language about some blessing or need.  Again Assembly of God pastors are very guilty of this huggy-huggy stuff.  In a video I have on the Toronto Airport Church Arnott is seen hugging women on the platform.  These touching men in the Lord's Church are nothing but devilish hustlers.

I must not fail to note that there are sweet hustlettes in many churches.  These ladies like to lay their hand on a man's arm as they talk to them.  They are forever reaching out to touch men as they make a point.  The only culture where this is accepted is that of the Italians.  It is also sinful for them.  Culture is no excuse.  Ladies, when you reach out and touch or hug a man other than your husband, you are getting in line for fornication or adultery.  Is that my weird idea?  Not at all.  I got that in I Corinthians 7 from the Apostle Paul.  If this standard is weird, then Paul was weird, and I dare say some twit at Corinth came up to Paul one day and accused him of having a dirty mind.  God did not agree, as you might guess.

One "Fundamental" pastor is famous for touching the ladies.  He got so spiritual at it that he ended up touching his church secretary at a "conference" in Hawaii WITHOUT  his wife present.  He just had to have his secretary along to "take dictation."  He ended up arranging for her to divorce her husband in the Name of the Carpenter of Nazareth.  This is where the elbow squeezing ends up.  I say that any preacher who will not stop this in his church is a perfect jerk and a wimp.  That includes YOU preacher!!!  I have more respect for an unsaved good old boy in a sleazy bar than for that preacher.  Why?  The good old boy doesn't know any better.  The preacher DOES.  And, he likes the fun-- his turn will come soon as he glides around the foyer working his way over to the young wife.  "We are praying for your husband sister,"  squeeze squeeze.  Damnation on the beast!!

Sir, if this is going on in your church, and if you have talked to the men and the pastor about it, AND if they will not take charge-----  YOU take charge (A lady must NOT do this).  Stand right up in a business meeting or in the assembly, quote the verses above, and blast them as adulterers and fornicators.  Split that assembly right down the middle if you have to.  It has no right to exist as it is.  FORCE the issue.  Cleanse the temple.  Whip them.  Turn over their tables. Move around the foyer afterward, and openly rebuke the touching program.  Don't lay off until they call the sheriff on you and have you physically removed.  

You Pentecostals--  So you want a great river of renewal eh?  How about a river of purity?  How about bringing down the fire of damnation on lust and open foreplay on the platform?  Make sure the ladies and kids are present when you do this so that the godly and the kids will realize they don't have to put up with these hustlers and their touching.  

I have seen this in regard to young kids and young teens, and I preached against touching in a church I was pastoring because they would not stop.  Most of them left rather than repent.  We are now meeting in a home because of this, and I am not one whit ashamed that I did it.  I look forward to the examination up yonder by my Lord in this regard.  I preached on this in another church I pastored.  I came to the end of the sermon, and I asked, "Could we just agree now that I Corinthians 7:1-3 will be our only standard in all fellowship?  There was a very audible sigh from everyone except one man.  He raised his hand and asked, "Can we give a little girl a pat on the head?"  Are you ready?  He was recently put on probation for stalking a waitress in his home town.  If you raise the standard high, the only ones who will complain will be the men who are at your assembly for no reason but lust.  If they shuffle off in righteous indignation, good riddance.

As you can tell, I am a bit more blunt than my daughter who wrote the above article.  If a lady is reading this, please ask you husband to read it and examine your fellowship in your assembly.   Ask him to print it and hand it to your pastor and demand an answer to it.  Start watching your young daughters to see if they are being subjected to the touching routine in your church.  Your husband should be concerned, even if he is not yet born again.  NO man, no REAL man, wants his women being handled by hustlers.  An Arab men will kill for this kind of liberty.  And lady, the next time the pastor or any aging hustler glides up next to you and tries to squeeze your elbow, slap the scum, and tell him to stop handing you.  Do it good and loud too.


Letter From a Reader:

Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 10:22:46 EST
Subject: Touching

That's right, Steve. Been there. I am also against the practice of joining hands to pray. What's the point, anyway? I've had them refused to let go after the praying was over. I've been squeezed, although reluctantly, by husbands while wives stood there seething, and as the innocent party I felt victimized by both parties. If I needed pastoral counseling I would prefer that the pastor's wife be present. Many pastors are doing that. I don't even like the intimate first- name basis. Although I'm not used to it, using the title Brother defines the relationship and is safer for everyone. M.B.


graphics and background by mary van nattan