SIDEBAR: Forbidden Fruit vs Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Forbidden Fruit vs. Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

When teaching young people about boundaries in dating or courtship relationships, it’s easy to focus on all the things they shouldn’t do. No touching below the neck. No getting horizontal. No No No. There’s certainly a place for such warnings in youth ministry, but what young people really want to know is, “Whatcan we do?”

Why not focus on the great things they can enjoy without guilt or shame? I have asked guys and girls to make lists of ways they can fuel a romantic relationship without starting any sexual fires. Their lists include:


  • Affirm not just my physical beauty, but also the character traits you admire in me.
  • Take me to church and youth activities so we can grow spiritually both as a couple and as individuals.
  • Hold my hand, or give me the kind of hug that makes me feel safe, not seduced.


  • Tell me what you respect about me.
  • Help me with little things like homework or shopping for my sister’s birthday present.
  • Do nice things that make me feel special, like baking me cookies or helping me wash my car.

Our sex-saturated society teaches young people that unless someone is trying to push your envelope or get your clothes off, they must not be very into you. By teaching teens the difference between loving activities and lustful activities, we can equip them to enjoy the healthiest romantic relationships possible.