“Yes, I would go overseas with my boyfriend or girlfriend – even if it means we would be tempted sexually.”
That’s how 36% of young adult Christians in Singapore responded in the Whole Life Inventory (2016), a survey instrument for churches to assess and find out the health and needs of their congregation.
That’s a whopping 1 in 3 of us who would have no qualms about putting themselves in situations where they might be tempted to sin.
When you go on holiday with your boyfriend or girlfriend – or maybe when you visit them while they’re overseas on exchange – the potential for “harmless” temptation is frequent and real. This is how it sounds like:
- “I’m just sharing a room with my girlfriend to save some money.”
- “They only had a room with a queen-sized bed. It’s okay, we’ll put pillows between us.”
- “It’s okay cos we’re with a bunch of friends. Who are all couples. Who are all rooming with each other.”
- “You know what, we’ll just break off from the group for a couple of days to do our own thing. We’ll see you back in Singapore.”
It’s not okay. It really isn’t.
It doesn’t matter how self-controlled or disciplined we believe we are. Once we buy the tickets and book the Airbnb as a couple, the truth is we’re wilfully locking ourselves into an extended period of temptation – when we’re told instead to flee from temptation and youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:2).
Being in a foreign land, where the chances of bumping into people we know are negligible – it’s a terribly exciting thing. And it’s more dangerous than you know.
We make our decisions out of either regard or disregard for God. There just isn’t an in-between.
I remember when my girlfriend and I travelled to JB with some of her friends, and we went off by ourselves for just 15 minutes to buy a banana cake from the main street outside the mall.
As we were walking, it suddenly dawned on me that it was just the two of us. We were truly by ourselves in a foreign land.
Now, I really wasn’t looking to do anything beyond buying that banana cake, but surprisingly, the seclusion and privacy afforded to us as a couple in that moment still made my heart race.
If we must measure temptation, it’s safer to assume that the temptation is always greater than we can know or expect.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
GOING OVERSEAS TOGETHER? 4 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELVES …
WHAT DOES YOUR CONSCIENCE TELL YOU?
If you’re still unclear on whether it’s acceptable to travel alone with your partner, take a look at the fruits.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a)
So, what are some fruits you can see behind this travel plan with your partner? And what are some fruits that will come out of this trip?
Are you at peace with this decision – truly? Are you arguing with your leaders because of this trip? Are you more gentle for it, or are you now insisting on your own way?
Often, the spirit of rebellion lies behind a vehement insistence on getting what we want. In being wilful or rude while asserting our wills, our hearts have already been led by sin.
I believe self-control is the key fruit to look out for here. Could you take a trip with your girlfriend and come out of it with better self-control? Plausibly.
Will you be tempted, would you be put in a position where you are likely to fall? Absolutely. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
So, really, what’s it saying if you insist to go despite knowing this? If self-control truly was a fruit in your life, it would be evident in your prudent decision not to go on a trip where you would have the strong possibility of being tempted into sin.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HOLINESS?
John Piper’s approach to holiness offers a wonderful framework for weighing whether or not to do certain things in life:
“Don’t just ask, ‘Is it a sin?’ That is about the lowest question you can ask in life. ‘I am going to do it if it is not a sin. So tell me, is it a sin to do this?’ ‘Well, not exactly.’ ‘Okay, that is all I wanted to know. I am off to do it.'”
The question to ask instead, Piper writes, is: “Does it get in my way when I am trying to become more patient, more kind, more gentle, more loving, more holy, more pure, more self-controlled? Does it get in my way or does it help me run?”
In this age of instant gratification, it’s so easy to ask if we can, but we often fail to ask the better question of whether we should.
For Piper, the issue isn’t “How many sins can I avoid?” The spiritually mature should instead ask a far wiser question: “How many weights can I lay down so that I am fleet-footed in the race of righteousness?”
Likewise, we need to see if we are asking the right question. In this age of instant gratification, it’s so easy to ask if we can, but we often fail to ask the better question of whether we should — whether it helps us run our heavenward race better.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
WHAT WOULD YOUR MENTORS SAY TO YOU?
Travelling with your partner is a touchy topic. To an extent, any issue which involves accountability and openness will be. For leaders, it’s not about approving your request or turning you down.
It’s about boldly helping you to become more like Christ, who told us to “be holy, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is holy” (Matthew 5:48).
So, if you have good and God-fearing leaders, know that they are for you. Because they love you, they will say “no” to things that are not good for you.
Because they truly love you and want the best for you, they cannot possibly say “yes” to a romantic getaway with your boyfriend or girlfriend. They’ve already asked themselves a question which you need to ask yourself as well: Will this hinder or help you to be a pure and righteous child of God?
From this position, we make our decisions out of either regard or disregard for God. There just isn’t an in-between.
WHAT DOES TRUE LOVE LOOK LIKE?
Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). Let’s earnestly consider how beneficial travelling with our partners would be for us, as we fight the good fight.
Don’t write it off, saying: “It’s okay, we love each other. We wouldn’t want to hurt each other by making a mistake.” If we really believed that, then we’d be steering clear of foreign and dangerous waters — not jumping in just for the sake of adventure.
And going in a group doesn’t offer some sort of magical protection either. The truth is, even if you go in a group, temptation will still be there. It’s even worse if you go in a group of couples.
Because at some point, it’s guaranteed you’ll break off into your pairs and do your own thing for a bit — and sometimes “a bit” is all the rope you need.
Do you want to love your partner the way the world loves, or do you seek a higher and truer love?
So, consider how you want to love your partner, who you treasure as being intricately moulded and loved by God, just like you. Do you want to love that person the way the world loves, or do you seek a higher and truer love?
The latter is difficult, but infinitely worthwhile. The former is stopping along the way for something cheaper and easier.
True love protects, and makes sacrifices. True love is patient, willing to wait for the right season.
True love knows when to say no.