What is Wrong with Petting?

By By Warren Bell

There is no such thing as love at first sight. Real love is not built upon mere sight. We may see one’s talents and appearance, and these we may admire, but true love is a .tender and strong attachment to the inward person. We love personality and personality must be learned, admired and respected before there can be love. We must mark the difference between love and lust.

We are living in a day of unbridled lust. The theater, the television, many magazines and others have formed a vile alliance to break down restraints of modesty and the Bible’s standards of courtship and marriage. Because of dull, impersonal preaching, and careless, unspiritual parents, much of this influence has colored the conduct of “Christian” young people. Consequently, on front room sofas, in parked automobiles, in after-church walks, young people fondle one another’s bodies, pervert their God-given desires and often take the next and natural step, fornication. They seem to think that such urges aroused to the breaking point, are signs of true love. That is not so! My young brother, a hundred different women could arouse the same desires within you. Love is based upon who she is; lust is based upon what she is! Christian courtship is based upon Christian standards and petting among unmarried persons is not Christian!

1. Petting breaks down the will and destroys self-control. It stirs a desire that petting itself cannot satisfy. Petting is not an end in itself but is preparatory. Normally the body prepares itself for its various functions. When a hungry person smells food, it starts saliva flowing in his mouth and gastric juices in his stomach. Fear causes certain glands to secrete extracts which prepare the body for violent action. So petting stimulates the body and prepares it for mating. This is the purpose of petting in God’s plan. It will always fulfill its purpose, but outside of marriage it leads to sin.

“There can come a moment between a man and a woman when control and judgment are impossible, and self-respect can be eternally damaged. A woman’s first protection against this betrayal is to appreciate that the speedup of her emotions is not only possible but natural and normal. Her best defense is to have no confidence at all in her ability to say nay at the appropriate moment. The belief that any woman can cooly halt lovemaking at some point before she is wholly committed is a tiger trap devised by romantics . . . not enough mothers warn their daughters that kissing is intended by nature to be an appetizer, not an entire meal,” says Marion Hilliard, M.D., Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto.

Whenever a Christian is in a situation where he cannot trust himself to act according to reason and Christian standards, he is in the wrong place!

2. Petting stimulates `inordinate affections.” “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection.” (Col. 3:5). Inordinate means not in order, out of place, not kept within bounds. God put petting in the bounds of marriage. He said that a woman’s body belongs to her husband. (1 Cor. 7:4). If you are not her husband, then you keep your hands off of her! Hundreds of couples will carry to their graves the tarnished memories of courtships that went beyond their proper bounds and broke over the limits of Christian and decent restraint. Let one’s desires be aroused to the breaking point and often his will power will break down, and his passions will out-pull every religious and moral restraint and will not stop until gratified in fornication. The best Christian in the world, if he is not strong enough to keep from petting, may not be strong enough to keep from fornication.

3. Petting is lasciviousness. The works of the flesh will keep people out of heaven. “Now, the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Lasciviousness is “wanton acts or manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females.” This describes petting! How many of you fathers have given your boys counsel of this kind? How many of you mothers have been outspoken on these matters to your girls? Why haven’t you? Why do parents think that their children are different? Why do parents close their mouths because of a false modesty and let their own children burn their fingers, stain their consciences, and break their hearts because of little or no teaching on these matters? Your children are going to learn the facts of their bodies and emotions. It is God’s plan that they learn it from you over the open pages of God’s book. If they do not learn from you, they will learn from other children and often with a lot of gutter-gossip, obscene suggestions, lewd stories and distorted facts.

4. Petting prevents thinking that is pure and honorable. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8). In petting there is always the urge to go farther. It causes sin in the heart. It will do this to any normal person. Young people who cannot sit apart and talk about things near to their hearts and be happy in one another’s presence probably do not have true love. They are only attracted sexually and physically to one another.

Courtship can be all that God wants it to be or it can be an unpleasant memory. Will you consecrate yours to God’s honor and to your purity? When two are in love, each will want the best that God has for the other.

Warren Bell, Nov. 12, 1965. The Examiner, Leitchfield, Kentucky.

Truth Magazine XVIII: 7, pp. 108-109
December 19, 1974