The cell group saw some debate last week over whether guys and girls should swim together.

To help us jump right in, I’ll summarise. There were two schools of thought in the discussion. The first believed it was just innocent fun – “just swim lor” was the cry. The other school asserted that guys’ motives are less than wholesome when it comes to swimming with a girl. I belong to that latter school of thought.

I don’t want to preach, so I’ll just share my own experience about swimming with girls and you can decide what you think about this issue.

During my army days, I had this one female friend.

We weren’t super close, and by all accounts she was not a great influence, but we hung out now and then. Also worth noting is that my mother hated it whenever she came around.

Anyway, I can’t remember who asked who, but one day we got around to the idea of going swimming at my condo. So she came over, we stripped down to our swimming gear and jumped into the water.

After some time swimming, floating around and chatting, the mosquitoes hanging around the water started to get pretty annoying. So at this point, my friend had the idea of going into the sauna to get away from them.

We went into the sauna, where it was just the two of us amid a whole lot of mist in a dim room. We sat at opposite ends of the room but somehow started moving closer to sit with each other. Before we knew it, we leaned in closer together, until… BAM!

Backlit against the harsh light of day that was now pouring into the room was my mother who had kicked the door in SWAT team style. She told me in no uncertain terms to get rid of the girl get ready to book in and that was that.

Thanks, Mum. For real.

Story number two. About a year later, while I was still in the army, I dated another girl for a bit. We were both Christians at this point, but were really just Christian in name and fooled around a little without things getting too crazy.

So on a hot night during the seventh-month period, she called me over to go swim at her place and cool off. She took her outer clothes off and jumped right in, beckoning me to join her. 

When I stepped into the water, I felt fine at first. But as I swam to meet her in the middle of the pool I began feeling incredibly cold – like crazy cold!

As I said, this happened during the seventh month. So I was tempted to look underwater, half expecting to see some kind of water demon or pool spirit that was playing foul and turning the water freakishly cold. My friend looked at me and asked if I was alright – I might have looked like I was having a seizure from all the shivering.

As I look back years later, I realise now that that was God’s way of getting me out of the water. Till today, I still don’t have an explanation for how supernaturally cold the water felt. I went home after I got out of the pool as I was totally weirded out by the experience and staying there felt wrong to me.

I identified as a Christian at the time these two incidents took place, but the reality was that I was far from God in that period. Things are different today, as I’m now in a meaningful relationship with God where I love, trust and obey Him.

I can look back on these events knowing that that guy is a dead man, and I’m a new creation in Christ. And as I do so, I see a number of things.

The other party might have wanted innocent fun in our swims, and perhaps I did too at the beginning, but things have a way of ramping up and getting exciting when we place ourselves in this romantic or tempting context.

Swimming has a way of affording that privacy and intimacy, even when you’re swimming in a group. You might have seen it – the couples who split off towards the corner and do things only the pool poltergeists can see.

I’ll just speak for myself. Most of the time, without it being said, I was looking forward to the prospect of a romantic outcome when I went swimming with girls, even though we weren’t even in a relationship which allowed for such intimacy.

I will concede that the matter of swimming with the opposite sex isn’t a clear-cut, black-and-white thing. We don’t have to be prescriptive or legalistic about it: we can just read a certain portion of Scripture that will inform our decision.

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

So the first thing to note is that God has no explicit law in His Word that prohibits swimming with the opposite sex. That would be incredibly specific, and perhaps a little strange. But He does give us a principle through Paul that can help us decide very quickly about these “grey” things.

It’s not about whether we can  but whether we should.

I can go swimming with girls. But should I? If I am being honest with myself, knowing that I’m tempted by seeing the shape of another person’s body and excited at the prospect of temptation, would I really still go ahead? How would that be beneficial to my walk with God? Or my sister-in-Christ’s walk with God?

We can and should apply Paul’s principle to swimming with the other sex, or indeed any other question that doesn’t have an explicit right or wrong to it.

Knowing the mistakes I almost made when I went swimming with girls, I know my answer.

As a Christian, I can’t see how it’s beneficial for me to swim with another person whom I’m not married to, one-on-one. Not because I’m a sucker for rules and laws, but because of love because I don’t want to sin against my sister or my God. 

Indeed, let’s also remember that we’re called to love God and to love others. That’s another framework by which we can weigh whether swimming with the opposite sex helps to achieve those goals or derails us. 

So there. If we die-die must swim with the opposite sex – and that also raises some questions about our motivations – let us at least walk into the water with our eyes wide open about the risks we will take on.

The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.