Pastor Matt Chandler gives advice on couples who are courting: “how far can we go?”
On the Wretched show, Todd Friel read a viewer’s question, “Once I start courting somebody, are we allowed to do anything?”
Friel showed a video clip of Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church with his wife sitting next to him completely silent during the entire talk. I guess her voice doesn’t count. I mean, come on, why put her in the video if she’s not allowed to say anything? Ok, I’ll stop now.
Here is the transcription of Chandler’s response to the ever-so-important question on how far dating couples can go physically:
Physical things build. They always do. So, once you go mouth to mouth, you are going to move past mouth to mouth. You just are. It’s not that you’re not going to.
Once you go mouth to mouth, things will progress. And so I would strongly recommend not going mouth to mouth and fight the good fight, that on your wedding day for the first time being the time that you kiss your spouse [sic].
And that’s a place of regret in my own heart, and a place where I’ve sought forgiveness from my own wife. And it’s a place just to honor.
It’s the place where Josh Patterson loved his wife well and that he literally didn’t kiss her until their wedding day. And he will talk – when he shares that story – about being in the car, saying goodnight and it being so tempting. But he knew that there was a greater reward and that he wanted to hold out for that greater reward.
At this point in the video, Todd Friel gives some commentary and one of the guys who works for him is interviewed about how he saved his first kiss for the wedding day and why he and his wife chose those restrictions.
Matt Chandler’s video continues:
It cannot progress if you don’t get it started. You get it started, it will progress. And so, I’m not trying to be puritanical, I’m just saying, that [once] you get that engine started, there’s a tendency to run. And [once] you get it up to 20 and it’s impossible to stop. And so, I’d be very careful. And the question’s even flawed: how far is too far? Just honor, get to know the soul. The more physicality introduced into the relationship, the more you’re not going to talk. You’re not going to wrestle with difficult things, you will fill the silence, not with searching for heart, but rather just with physicality. It robs you of what God wants to build in you and that will need to be repaired later down the road if you sacrifice it early on. If you don’t sacrifice it early on, you won’t have to repair it later on. What if he’s a bad kisser? Train that fool.
So, here’s the thing. I heard the purity teachings when I was in youth group. I didn’t, however, get the don’t-kiss talk. It no-kiss talk is certainly talked about in the purity culture of the Homeschool Movement and other fundamentalist teachings, and many people who have brought up in that rigid culture have re-evaluated some of these rules they were under.
I have a couple of issues with Chandler’s rule. While he claims that the engine won’t stop, is that based solely on his personal experience? I know of people who pledged a secondary virginity commitment and stayed pure after previously losing their virginity. So, to claim you can’t stop the engine seems pretty black and white to me. If he said that it’s difficult to stop that train going down the track, that would seem to be a more accurate response.
Another thought: there are no clear boundaries in the Bible on this topic. When the Bible says to flee youthful lust, it does not define what that looks like. Unless Chandler has some special guidebook that was divinely sent to him, I have difficulty with a pastor setting such specific guidelines. I think he’s going beyond the pastoral role in how he presents this issue.
What is the job of a pastor? I believe their job is to shepherd and guide, not to be someone’s Holy Spirit. Their job should be to encourage people to seek God and Scripture and listen to God themselves.
If Chandler had prefaced his talk with, “this is my experience, but I can’t tell you what to do, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job,” I wouldn’t be writing this article.
Hearing Chandler’s words left me with questions:
- If you kissed people you dated, did you have to do repair work later on when you got married?
- Did your spouse care if you had kissed someone before him/her?
- Did you feel guilty about kissing someone else before marriage?
- Do you believe once you kiss, you can’t stop from going further?
- Who is Josh Patterson?