Why Should I Say No to Physical Intimacy?

If you have hung around the church for very long, you have probably heard that God wants people to reserve physical intimacy for marriage. If you haven’t and that is news to you, then we can understand the shock you might be feeling. For many people, both inside and outside of the church, it does not make sense. If it feels so good, and is good for the relationship, and both people are consenting, then what is the problem?

Consider this viewpoint: When someone can say no to sex outside of marriage, their behavior is a sign that he or she is capable of delaying gratification and exhibiting self-control, which are two prerequisites of the ability to love. If someone cannot delay gratification and control himself or herself in this area, what makes you think that they can delay their own gratification in other areas of sacrifice? What is going to curb the “I want what I want now” mentality in the rest of life? If someone is able to respect the limit of hearing no for sex, then that is a character sign of someone who can say no to their own desires and hungers in order to serve a higher purpose, or to love another person.

You fall in love with a person and think about making a real, committed relationship with him or her. Naturally, that is going to mean some sacrifice down the road. You are going to want to be with a person who can deny himself or herself for the sake of your relationship in many areas. Think of the areas of sacrifice that a relationship takes. There are sacrifices of time, when you might want to spend time on your favorite hobby, and yet the family needs you. There are sacrifices of money. One person may want to buy a new car, and yet the family needs money for the home. There are sacrifices of getting one’s way. One person may want to go to one place for dinner and the others want something different.

Most importantly, there is the sacrifice that it takes to work out conflict. One person is hurt and wants to strike back in anger or hurt, yet to reconcile, the ability to put one’s own desires aside for the sake of the relationship is necessary. If someone does not have self-control and delay of gratification in pleasure, can they delay the gratification of getting his or her own way in conflict?

Think about it. Wouldn’t you want to be with a person who can hear and respect the “no” of others? Having a boundary in sex while you are dating is a very important test to see if the person loves you. We have all heard people refer to the line “If you love me, you will.” In reality, you should say back, “If you love me, you won’t make demands that I do not feel comfortable with.” Love waits and respects, but lust must have what it wants now. Are you being loved, or are you an object of self-serving lust? Saying no is the only way to know.

We cannot overemphasize the value of dating and marrying a person who can delay their own gratification. If you are with someone who ultimately has to have what they want when they want it, you are in for a long time of misery. Choose someone who can delay gratification for the sake of you and the relationship. To the extent that he or she says, “I must have what I want now,” you are in trouble. Boundaries with sex are a sure-fire test to know if someone loves you for you.


Boundaries in Dating_sm2Get more helpful advice to build the best dating relationship and find the love of your life in Boundaries in Dating by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud.






  1. Liz says

    More than 40 years ago I started dating my husband in high school. We dated 3 years and he and I waited until we married. Even though we did do more than just kiss, he didn’t push for all and I thought he was able to delay gratification and had a good moral compass bc of that. Not so. Immediately after we married he changed. That he wanted sex was understandable. I did too. But, everything in our life became about his need for immediate gratification and rage when it wasn’t met. Yes it is a miserable way to live. After nearly 40 years he revealed he’d been having affairs with two women I know well for over half our marriage (yes simultaneously). I stayed on the condition he go to counseling and never have any contact of any sort with them again and, bc by the time I found out I was so worn down by the years of acquiescing to his abuse, his needs and demands I was not able to contemplate leaving. Now I know there are ppl who border on low levels of empathy that those with aspergers do (heartlessaspergers.com/partner-survey-results will show you what it’s like to live with someone who can’t delay gratification for the sake of others) and he and his mother fall into that category. This inability to empathize well is where the inability to delay gratification, consider others and impulsivity comes from in him and it is both genetic and learned behavior. I’m relying on God to heal my life and believe He expects me to share my wisdom with others. Do consider whether someone can delay gratification in ALL areas before you marry them if you want to have any self fulfillment at all. Do be careful though bc there are ppl out there who have an incredible learned ability to hide all this until they feel they have won the object of their desires. If you find yourself married to someone like this, insist on counseling. I should have taken out a loan to pay for it the first month we married. Prepare yourself with knowledge and documentation first bc they can charm counselors and ministers and everyone else and make you look like the crazy one. I have found that the threat of my leaving is the only way I can keep his abusive behavior in check. I have said I will no longer live with the other person he becomes I did not agree to a covenant bond with that other man. I also find that understanding his deficits helps me function so much more effectively. If WE had had the help we needed early on we might have had the beautiful life I helped make the world think we had. The reality is it was misery behind the facade. But, good news-we are finally getting to a place where what others see is real – praise God.

    • Johanna says

      Thank you you so much for sharing your struggle and yes praise the lord he is putting you in a place of truth and getting the peace love respect you deserved.
      I have had a similar experience and i know we are not alone and yes God is Great because like you we are now as a family a couple in a better place.

    • Magdalene says

      Dear, it’s very, very, very horrifying! *kind empathy*

      In truth, my heart is aching very painfully for you three, Liz, Cynthia & Johanna.
      Hopefully, you three will always have e most beautiful special relationship with your beloved husband for life like my most beloved parents’ steadfast relationship ever since they got married in May 1975.
      Yes, they are each other’s first and last man/woman in their life.
      They did have regular conflicts with each other throughout their married life. Only one very good thing: they have positive empathy with each other continually, understanding each other’s weaknesses & strengths so intimately.

      I am single by choice for life, knowing most clearly about e pros & cons of marriage for life.
      A big surprise of life: My parents still do not prefer for me to marry a man, knowing me very well, far long before I know that intuitively. 🙂
      Lord Jesus is so good to me faithfully by putting a sanctified barrier of no marriage for me & my well-being’s sake, long before I begin to be aware of many unpleasant things.

      Thank you for sharing with everyone so kindly. *hugs* 🙂

  2. Borney says

    If they can wait for you that can wait with you alone when the trials and temptations of life multiply over time.
    Faithful in little = faithful in much and for a life time!
    Not a guarantee just a principle of Sowing and reaping that if steadily applied by good character produces fruitful crops year after year.

  3. Jen says

    Here’s a further thought, what if the person you are with has clearly demonstrated that he/she can indeed sacrifice for the sake of the relationship. What then?

  4. Shannon says

    What about setting boundaries concerning masterbation in marriage? I am very willing to have sex with my husband. He masterbates almost everyday. He use to look at porn a lot, but says he doesn’t anymore. I feel hurt when he masterbates. I don’t like the way it feels to be just one of his options to have an orgasm. I don’t feel set apart. I feel like I am sharing my husband with his fantasies and it is almost like he is cheating on me. I have expressed my feelings to him. He didn’t like how I felt and told me regular masterbation is normal and healthy. He said I have a problem and can talk to him about again after I go see a shrink for 6 months. He took it off the table. I’d like to set a boundary because I feel so yucky inside about this, and uncomfortable almost exploited having sex with him as he continues to masterbate and expects me to comply. I’d like to say no to sex while he chooses not to delay sexual self gratification for the sake of our relationship. When he chooses not to wait for me instead, I’ll be available to have sex with him. Is this okay? I don’t know what else to do.

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