How Close is Too Close?


Hello, my name is Vince and I recently got engaged to my girlfriend of four years. I was just wondering what the “rules” are regarding “how close is too close”? I realize that genital stimulation is not permissible, but what about deep kissing and laying together? Obviously, these things arouse us, but we never let it go too far. So, I guess what it comes down to is the question, is doing things that arouse each other wrong if it doesn’t lead to anything else? Thank you and God bless


Last Updated: November 20, 2021
Dear Vince:

Congratulations to you and your fiancee on your engagement, and on your realization that genital stimulation outside of marriage is not right. To answer your question about other behaviors that also arouse you, such as deep kissing and laying together, we have to look to God’s purpose in creating sexual arousal in the first place. The chemical and physical reactions associated with arousal are preparing the body for intercourse, which has the two-fold purpose of uniting a married couple and being open to engendering new life.

An engaged couple should not start down a path which they should not yet complete. To do so is to frustrate nature, rather than cooperate with it. It is unloving to tease the body into desires that cannot be satisfied morally. One runs the risk of going further than originally intended, or of later masturbating. Jesus says that even to look at each other lustfully is already to commit adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:28). Courtship is a time for purifying love from the desire for self-gratification. This battle begins in the heart.

Even when one succeeds in avoiding climax, engaging in sexual arousal most likely will overwhelm and stunt more important areas of growth in your relationship. You may increasingly view each other in a sexual way, rather than knowing each other more profoundly on the personal and spiritual levels that provide a solid foundation for a marriage to last over the long haul, when sexual attraction may change.

Married love is meant to be totally self-giving, and sexual relations in marriage are meant to express that total gift. The engaged should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love. Mutual arousal during engagement may introduce a habit of using each other rather than totally giving to each other, and this can later weaken the sexual relationship in marriage. There was wisdom in the old custom of having to wait until after the marriage vows to hear the minister proclaim publicly: “Now you may kiss the bride.”

Use your precious time of courtship only for what glorifies God and respects the true dignity of each other as His image. Grow together in a relationship of calm and stable appreciation of each other’s spiritual nature. You will not be sorry.

Blessings on you and your marriage.

Fr. Larry Toschi, OSJ

Answered By:

Fr. Larry Toschi, O.S.J
Fr. Larry Toschi, OSJ, an Oblate of St. Joseph, and Pastor Emeritus of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Copatroness of the Unborn, in Bakersfield, CA, serves on the Advisory Board of CANFP. Fr. Larry is the developer of the Life Giving Love Weekends and author of several books, his most recent being the bilingual Family Starts with Marriage, Holy Spouses Devotions and Rites

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