Sadly, statistics and anecdotal experience both indicate that even the couples who spend time in dating relationships of any length, sin physically.
Scripture calls Christians to "flee" from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians ), not to "see how difficult we can make the temptation and still prevail" or to "see how close to the line we can get without sinning." In my view, Scripture teaches clearly that there is to be romantic physical intimacy outside of marriage.
No reasonable person would argue that physical temptation does not increase — a lot — the longer two people date who are attracted to each other and who grow to love each other.
Over time, maybe you take some of the same classes, live near one another, etc.
In that context, living with the desires I've just described, how likely do you think it is that over the course of two or three or four years — some couples date over most of their college years — you will be able to maintain enough emotional discipline and distance to avoid acting emotionally and relationally "married"?
I discuss this principle more fully in "Principles for Drawing Boundaries" and "What Does a Biblical Relationship Look Like?
" As a quick refresher, we can "defraud" our brother or sister in a dating context by showing or encouraging a level of intimacy — either emotionally or physically — that the Bible seems to reserve for marriage and marriage only.
In the meantime, the "we're already committed" rationalization tends to make couples feel free to act in all sorts of ways they didn't before, and every argument I've made in this series applies ), but that doesn't mean that anyone who uses that language is automatically correct.
As a quick theological aside on guidance, God does not primarily lead His people by mystic feelings in the pits of our stomachs about what He wants us to do.
As to physical intimacy, many long-distance couples have told me that because they are not physically close to one another as often, they actually experience Um, no. Be deliberate about avoiding "marital" levels of intimacy.
If you've forgotten the cardinal rule of engagement, re-read "Tips for Engagement." Engagement is a great thing, but it's not marriage. Choice two is to stay in school and put the relationship on hold. Wait until a responsible time to start the relationship back up.
Where a relationship is shorter, accountability stronger, and the level of temptation, and the likelihood of sin, goes down.