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    parents' birthdays, birthday gatherings, visiting relatives, family picnics, cooking dinner, reading a book together, etc.

    c. Nature and community events - hiking, canoeing, crosscountry skiing, tobogganing, fishing, sailing, ice skating, bowling, bike riding, tennis, frisbee, jogging, kite flying, shopping; or visiting a museum, zoo, gardens, planetarium, park, mall, different city, new restaurant, tourist exhibit, scenic area, etc.

3. Set moral standards - As you date more frequently, talk about your moral standards. Agree to try to help each other to avoid premarital sex, not tempt each other to it. Agreement of this nature ahead of time will make it easier to say' 'no" or to not move beyond certain levels of intimacy later. A mutual understanding provides more confidence to stop the other in a tempting situation than an unspoken uncertainty about these matters.

4. Pace your relationship - Be realistic and careful. Many well-intending and morally-sound Christian couples have made shipwreck on this point. Had someone told them, when first dating, that they would end in the problems of premarital sex or forced marriage, they would have said, "No, not us!" Yet, it happens often through a lack of a proper pacing of their dating relationship. Imagine the following staircase as picturing various steps of physical intimacy from holding hands to sexual intercourse, from initial dating to marital expressions of unity.

Very few Christian couples plunge from no physical contact to premarital sex in one great dive. A vast majority move step by step in expression of physical intimacy.

Most premarital dating relationships only exist for two to three years. Compare this fact to the years of marriage experienced by most couples. What added incentive to strive for healthy physical pacing in a dating relationship is provided by this comparison?


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