Is It OK to Kiss My Girlfriend?

Q. What does God have to say about kissing your girlfriend? Is that against the rules, or what's the deal?

A. Great job checking the Bible for answers! And the good news is that the Bible says a lot about kissing ... for married couples. I guess that might just be good news for me and my wife, but here are some principles for you as a single guy.

God is all for sex!

And why shouldn't He be - He invented it! In Genesis 2:25 Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed! And 1 Timothy 4:4 says that everything God made is good. Since married people are encouraged to have sex, I'm taking that as a good thing!

But God does have some guidelines

In Colossians 3:5 Paul reminds us not to let sexual sin or evil thoughts control us. So what does that mean in a physical relationship? Look at it this way: Imagine No. 8 (sexual intercourse) is the top rung of a ladder while No. 1 (holding hands) is the first rung. How far up the ladder can you climb while still pleasing God and honoring your girlfriend?

8. Sexual intercourse
7. Heavy petting (under clothing); oral sex
6. Light petting (over clothing)
5. French kiss
4. Prolonged kiss
3. Simple kiss
2. Cuddle
1. Hold hands

Well ... you tell me. Generally speaking a guy is physically aroused when he gets to No. 5, French kiss. While, generally, a girl is physically aroused at No. 6, light petting.

Note! By physically aroused, I'm not talking about interested in sex. Because for a guy that happens the moment he wakes up. Instead, I mean his or her body is physically preparing itself for sexual intercourse.

With that new information, you tell me. How far up the ladder should you climb?

My thoughts

Because the goal is keep away from evil thoughts ... including lust ... I'd say stop climbing at No. 3, simple kiss. Boring? Maybe - but you and your girlfriend and both of your future spouses win. There are so many people who struggle with "sexual flashbacks," a situation many marriage counselors have to help married couples through. Sexual flashbacks are simply a reminder of previous sexual activity a person has been involved with, and they usually occur when married couples are having sex. It's not very romantic to think about another woman when having sex with your wife!

So hang in there and honor God and your future wife by learning how to be a friend to the opposite sex. That's the most important skill you can take into a future marriage. (And then you'll have the rest of your marriage to practice the sex part!)

Greg warns of another dangerous situation in Hanging Out With Friends - In a Motel Room.

Hanging Out With Friends - in a Motel Room

Q. I'm going to a party with my girlfriend and some friends. Afterwards, her best friend & her best friend's boyfriend are getting a motel for the night and my girlfriend wants us to join them. She says we'll just "hang out." Should I take her word on the hang out thing? Or do you think she's got other plans for our time at the motel? I don't want to go far sexually with her, so what should I do?

A. I'm a big supporter of hanging out with friends. I think that's the best way for people to get to know one another in a safe, casual, positive environment.

But I'm also a big supporter of wisdom. Renting a motel room in order to hang out communicates one message, and I doubt it's one your mom would be proud of.

Just as I wouldn't encourage an alcoholic to hang out at a bar or a person dieting to spend the morning in a bakery, there's no way I would encourage you (or any unmarried couple) to hang out in a motel room ... with or without a group of friends.

Proverbs 6:27-28 makes a lot of sense: "You cannot carry hot coals against your chest without burning your clothes, and you cannot walk on hot coals without burning your feet."

If God were communicating that same message today that verse would say, "You cannot hang out in a motel room with your girlfriend without being more sexually active than you want, and you cannot walk out of a motel room with your girlfriend without other people thinking you went further sexually than you really did."

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to "Avoid every kind of evil." Even if you sat across the room from your girlfriend all night and did nothing but watch educational TV, people would talk. You don't need that, but more importantly, your non-Christian friends who are watching you don't need you to set that kind of example.

In case I haven't been clear enough: Don't do it.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-10

Is the latest Backstreet Boys or U2 album worth owning? See what our reviewer says about the latest secular releases.

Be sure and check out Greg's Web site.

I'm Attracted to a Non-Christian Girl

Q. Is it a good idea for a believer who is attracted to a non-believer to continue to pursue a growing relationship with that person?

A. Yes! (and no ... you knew that was coming.)

Yes ...

As a Christian you should absolutely continue to pursue a growing friendship with that person. How else would your friend get to see what a Christian is like and what it means to allow Jesus to lead your life? By all means, be friends with unbelievers and live in such a way that they are attracted to our awesome God (Matthew 5:16).

No ...

But I don't believe it's a good idea to begin a dating relationship with an unbeliever. And here's why:

You've been chosen by God

John 15:16, 1 Peter 2:9, and 1 Thessalonians 1:4 are just a few verses that point out an amazing truth: Christians have been chosen by God. What a privilege and responsibility! Because we've been chosen by God, we've got to follow His guidelines for our lives, particularly our relationships.

You've been given guidance by God

One of the principles from 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 is that Christians are only to marry Christians. Seems kind of limiting, don't you think? Yes, until you consider that God is a loving God who has your best interest in mind. Think about it. Imagine marrying someone who is not a believer. Maybe she will agree to go to church with you ... but how passionate will she be about seeing you grow in your faith? Will she encourage your involvement in a small group or going to a men's retreat? If so ... for how long? What happens when you have children? Sure, your wife will probably think it's a good idea for them to go to church, but as they get older, they'll be watching your example more than listening to your words (you know how that is) and it will be easy
for them to say, "Mom, you don't care much about God and church, so why
should we?" God looks at the big picture and knows it is in your best interest to be patient and wait for a godly woman to come along.

You're called to grow in your relationship with God

Maybe you're thinking, "C'mon! I'm talking about dating someone ... not
marrying the person!" I understand. But you're also talking about developing habits today for what kind of wife you're looking for tomorrow. Begin practicing healthy habits now ... it'll forever help you in the future. Besides, dating an unbeliever now is opening yourself up to a number of temptations that are tough enough for two Christians to handle. Think about it, what if you have different views on sexuality, or alcohol, or video rentals? Who decides what is right? Where do you begin to compromise?

Besides, you won't have much opportunity to grow through Bible study,
prayer, and other ways to connect with God and each other.

But what about ?
What if I date an unbeliever in order to lead her to Christ? Sure, it can happen and it does. But it happens very rarely. If anyone does change, it's more normal for the Christian to go backwards in his faith. The best statement I've heard on the dating as evangelism issue is, "Since when has effective evangelism happened as a result of willful disobedience?"

Finally, Hebrews 12:1 is a terrific verse on this issue. "We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back." Dating an unbeliever will hold you back. And it may send a mixed message to the other person as well. Your best bet is to be that person's friend, but don't allow the emotions to draw you into a dating relationship.

How would you respond to this question? Tell us in the Teens Forum.

Breaking Up Is So Hard To Do

Q. My girlfriend and I broke up after dating for about three months. She told me she wanted to be friends and pursue her faith more and that she didn't have the energy to put into a relationship. But she also said she still wants to hang out with me. I have a lot of feelings for her and hope someday God will tell me if she is the one or not. How do I know if God wants us together?

A. Wow. First, let me say I feel for you. Those are tough words to hear from someone you care about. But let me also say that it's cool that you two can talk openly. It's obvious you have a good relationship.

So what's next? I think you need to honor her desire to grow in her faith. It would be nice to do that as a couple, but that's not an option right now. Instead, you can prove to be a good friend by valuing her decision and praying for her spiritual growth. Since she wants to continue to hang out, take advantage of that. But if you need some time to heal first, be honest with her. Then hang out with her and some of your mutual friends. I'd definitely emphasize spending time as a group right now. Otherwise, a one-on-one meeting might send mixed messages. And neither of you needs that.

As far as figuring out whether or not she's "the one," I have a simple answer that's tough to take: TIME. Time will tell. That sure sounds like a cliche, but it's so true! If God wants you two together, He will continue to mold and develop each of you before allowing you to connect. The only thing we know for sure is that God wants to form us into the image of His Son. So allow Him to do so while He shows you what's next.

Focus on knowing and loving God, and let God take care of the rest of the relationship details. He usually does a better job than we do!

Meanwhile, I will pray for you. I realize it's a lot easier for me to type an answer than it is for you to read it. God is crazy about you. Stay focused on Him.

Need some tips on growing in Christ? Start with A Clean Heart for a Fresh Start.

Be sure to check out Greg's Web site.


Drugs to Boost Confidence, is There a Better Way?

Q. I've used drugs at raves and a few other social events as a confidence builder, since it helps me feel less worried about what others think about me. I know drugs hurt my body, but it's the only thing I know that helps me deal with my cares and my fears. Do you know of anything I could use that might be safer? - Anonymous

A. Do you know who you are? I'm not asking for your name and phone number or asking about your height or hair color. I mean deep down inside -- your real identity -- not an image that you portray to others. Because knowing who you really are and how others truly feel about you will indicate whether or not you need some kind of substance to boost your confidence.

Here's what I mean. If you're a Christian, this is what God says about you:

You are a child of God (John 1:12)

You are Christ's friend (John 15:15)

You are forever free from the penalty of your wrong choices (Romans 8:1)

You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)

You have direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18)

You will have your needs supplied by God (Philippians 4:19)

Your sins are forgiven (Colossians 2:13, 14)

That's pretty cool ... and that's only a sampling of all that God says about you in the Bible.

Let me ask you two more questions. First, are you a Christian? Before answering, realize I'm not talking about going to church or having parents who say they are Christians. I'm talking about being honest with God and saying to Him, "I need You in my life. I've done things my way too much and I need You to take over. I need forgiveness of the wrong things I've done and I'd like You to forgive me and to be the leader of my life." Only Jesus can forgive sins, and He loves it when people talk to Him like that.

Secondly, who are you trying to impress more: God or your friends? Honestly, I sometimes struggle with pleasing my friends more than I try to please God. I have to remember God is the One I need to focus on more than anything, and when I do ...

I walk with confidence (because I know I'm loved by God ... based on what He did for me)

I don't let others' negative comments affect me as much (because I know how God feels about me ... and what God says is eternal rather than temporary, like what my friends say)

I see others the way He sees them (because I know God's love for me is an example of how He wants me to love others)

I don't take drugs or anything else that harms my body (because I know God would rather fill me with His love...than see me fill it with some other stimulant).

So do I know of anything that is safer to help you feel better? Yes, knowing Jesus and allowing Christian friends to love and support you. Being a Christian doesn't mean you're not going to struggle with how others feel about you or with temptations, but it does mean you have access to the God of the universe, who is cheering you on and wants to help you succeed.

Find friends who can encourage you at Chat. Click here for a schedule of upcoming events.

Is it wrong to masturbate?

Q. I am a 17-year-old male, and I'm wondering if it's wrong to masturbate. If it is, how do you control it?

A. This is a big issue. Some statistics say that 98 percent of teenage males have masturbated (rumor has it the other 2 percent are lying) and the same is true for up to 33 percent of teenage females. So this is an important question!

Regarding your question, my general rule of thumb is that when the Bible directly addresses an issue, I can give you an answer. When the Bible doesn't, I can offer an opinion. Since the Bible does not directly address masturbation, I've got an opinion for you (based on other principles from the Bible). Let's take a look at this from two angles: 1) should I do it, and 2) if I do, how do I stop?

Should I do it?
Here's the opinion: No.

Generally speaking, when guys choose to masturbate, it involves lustful thoughts. (Put it this way, I've never heard of a guy masturbating while looking at a picture of a tree.) When we lust, two things are happening: We're being selfish, and we're looking at or thinking thoughts that are inappropriate. Since the Bible deals directly with those two areas (see Romans 12:3), we've got some guidelines.

Does that mean you're weird or sick if you do it? No! I am suggesting, however, that it's not a safe practice. There're all kinds of rumors out there that say crazy things happen to those who masturbate. That's just talk - don't worry. But one real thing that could happen when you masturbate is that you'll begin to develop a wrong view of women, seeing them only as objects to satisfy you, rather than as sisters in Christ to be cared for and honored. This is especially important if you get married someday.

How do I stop?
The reality is, we're prone to sexual stimulation all the time, whether it's a girl's sweet-smelling perfume or a low-cut dress. It doesn't take much for a guy to get turned on. So what do you do when tempted to masturbate?

First, realize that God has set up a system for us to release some of that "tension," called wet dreams ("nocturnal emission"). If you've ever woken up feeling guilty because you ejaculated while sleeping, don't worry. You're not bad and you didn't do anything wrong. Your body is simply at work. Otherwise, here are some ideas:

1) Take a cold shower ... go jogging/swimming ... do anything athletic
2) Think about something else. (Got to work hard on this one because lustful thoughts will keep popping in there.)
3) Refocus your thoughts. If you've been thinking about a girl you're
attracted to, begin praying for her and her purity. Pray that she would
honor God in her life, particularly physically. (It's amazing how that will calm you down.)
4) Evaluate what movies/TV shows you're watching. You may not watch a
seductive show for the purpose of checking out the women, but your mind
takes everything in ... and usually reminds you of those images later.
5) Remember, it takes time to break a habit. The best way to start is to ask a trusted friend for help and prayer, and don't expect success overnight. It takes time!

God's love for you doesn't change if you masturbate. He's in love with you today and forever. But He wants you to avoid acting on lustful thoughts and to replace those thoughts with ones that please Him. You're not a failure or a bad Christian - you're God's child! Take one step at a time!

Stumbling with "lust of the flesh," what can I do?

Q. For awhile now, I've been stumbling with "lust of the flesh." I know I need to stop, but I can't overcome the temptation. Can you please tell me what the Bible has to say about this and give me some words of encouragement?

A. I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate. (Romans 7:15)

The Apostle Paul sums it up pretty good, doesn't he? At least that's a great description of my life! Living for Jesus would be a lot simpler if it weren't I'm my biggest problem. Even though I love Christ and want to live for Him, I have to deal with habits I've developed over the years, which means I feel like I'm always tempted.

Not a pretty picture. Thankfully, God doesn't give up on me - or you. Instead, God continues to remind me of a very important truth:

For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:16-17)

Check that out again: "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." Each temptation we face gives us an option: go the world's way or go God's way. When we go the world's way, we end up frustrated. When we go God's way, we're motivated and encouraged.

Here's an example: When tempted to lust over a girl you're attracted to, what are the possible benefits and consequences of enjoying those lustful moments?

Benefits: instant satisfaction and wild thought life

Consequences: feeling dirty, treating this girl like an object, no self-control

EVALUATE this choice by considering the possible benefits and consequences of choosing NOT to lust.

Benefits: growth in Christ, character development, purity, self-control

Consequences: miss out on the above benefits!

We've got to EVALUATE. Which option do you want for your life? Do you want what the world offers or what God offers?

This may be corny, but I think it illustrates the importance of EVALUATING our choices. Ever read the kids' book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein? Check out his poem called "SMART."

My dad gave me one dollar bill 'cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters 'cause two is more than one!
And then I took the quarters and traded them to Lou
For three dimes - I guess he don't know that three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates and just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes, and four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them, and five is more than four!
And then I went and showed my dad, and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head - too proud of me to speak!

Only a fool would trade a dollar for five pennies. But that's what we do when we follow the world's way rather than God's. Sin always looks attractive, which is why we give in. But if we want to be serious about walking with God, we've got to EVALUATE what we're doing and why we're doing it.

Anytime we EVALUATE the world's way and God's way, God's way always wins...even though those five pennies look good!

So now what? Choosing God's way is not easy, especially at first. But here's some thoughts:

It's critical to connect with a church or youth group so you can develop some Christian friendships that will help you when it gets tough (which is about every 5 minutes).

Once you're connected, start one step at a time. And start small. Think of a temptation you face and write out the benefits of going God's way and the benefits of the world's way.

EVALUATE the decision you have to make and choose God's way or the world's way.


Practice some more!


Having trouble with my ex...

Q.I'm having a problem with my ex-girlfriend. I broke up with her and now we are friends, but whenever she comes to see me, we start kissing. I tell her "no" but we still keep doing it. I don't want to anymore, because I'm asking God to revive me and my spiritual life. What should I tell her?

A.Sounds like God may be answering your prayer!

You want revival in your life, and God is giving you an opportunity to obey Him and to keep your word to your friend that you won't kiss her anymore. That's a big step of faith ... especially when you've got a set of tempting lips coming your way!

Revival begins with the first act of obedience to God. If you believe He wants you two to stop kissing, then you need to clearly communicate that to her, in a kind way. But don't stop there! Tell her why. Tell her you want to honor God with your life, and this is one way you feel like you can do that.

Be careful not to make your friend feel inferior if she's not ready to make that decision, but ask her to respect your desire. After that, it's time for you to keep your word! Get a buddy who will pray with you and hold you accountable, someone who will ask you every day (or every hour, if necessary!) whether or not you're doing the right thing. Sounds like it would be good to "politely" avoid her for a while. If you do meet with her, only do so with other friends around ... not in the back seat of a car!

Check out James 1:22-26 for a reminder of why it's important to obey our awesome God! Your heart is right ... keep following God and helping others know about Him, too.


How do I reach out to my friends at school for Christ?

Q. I am a Christian and I have a passion to reach out to my friends at school, but I don't know how to bring up the subject and stuff ... like where I should start? Got any suggestions?

A. What a great problem! Thanks for your example and your passion - it motivates me! Since we're in the Christmas season, this is the best and most natural time to talk about Jesus and His love for us. When people who don't know Jesus think about Christmas, what comes to mind?



No school


Christmas trees

The Grinch

Any of those topics can lead to discussing spiritual things. (Yes, even the Grinch! The story contains a great message about the true meaning of Christmas.) You can talk about your relationship with God as the greatest gift you've ever gotten, or transition from Santa to talking about Jesus as the greatest gift giver ... even when you're naughty!

I bet your church or youth group is doing some fun Christmas stuff. People are most open to going to church during Christmas, so extend the invitation. Also, check the "Livin' the Faith" section this Web site.

Bottom line? You've got to do two things:

1) Pray for your friends and an opportunity to share with them.
2) Go for it!

Keep me posted ...

How Do I Get to Know Girls?

Q. How do I get to know girls? I am really fed up after trying everything. I feel a bit nervous. What do I do?

A. Wow. You're asking about one of the great mysteries of the universe. I'm just glad you didn't ask about understanding girls ... I don't know!

But I've got some sure-fire ways to get you a ... proper perspective. (Sorry, can't guarantee you'll get the girl.)

Remember What's Important

I know, I know ... when it seems like "everyone" is dating (they're not), you feel weird or like there's something's wrong with you. The reality is, God is more concerned about your heart than who you're going out with on Saturday night. (See Matthew 22:37-39)

Be a Friend

When you make the effort to care about girls and see them as sisters - or potential sisters - in Christ, God does something to your heart. He takes your focus off of yourself ("Hey, I wonder what it would be like to make out with her?") and puts it on others ("Hey, I wonder how she's doing. I'm going to pray for her right now"). (See Hebrews 13:18)

Hang out in Groups

Instead of looking for opportunities to spend some alone time with a special girl, focus on spending time with a bunch of friends ... that often includes girls! Time as a group takes the pressure off of everyone. Of course, you've got to be careful with who's in the group. (See 1 Corinthians 15:33)

Don't Try So Hard

Relax! God is crazy about you for who you are. So don't spend more than one second trying to be someone else. Instead, practice being confident in who you are and how God made you, and don't try so hard to impress others. I know that's easier said than done (I still struggle with this) but this is key!

P.S. Don't forget to enjoy life in the process. There's lots of fun to be had out there!