Types of boundaries
Say: Today we’re going to explore the big question of, ‘where is the line?’ when it comes to sexual boundaries in romantic relationships. It’s a question other generations have asked but never really got an answer to. We’re going to explore the answer to this by looking at different types of boundaries, communication and where our faith comes into that. When we use the word ‘boundaries’ it usually sounds negative – like it’s stopping us from doing something fun. The thing is, there are all sorts of boundaries – not just sexual.
Ask: Can you identify other types of boundaries? Ask the group to shout out their answers. You could write them on a board so everyone can see. The boundaries could be physical, spiritual, legal, emotional, relational, mental etc. Can anyone provide examples?
Explain that in our lives different boundaries are enforced on us by other people, such as our parents or teachers. We can even set our own boundaries. For example, a physical boundary could be not letting others go through your backpack. If you found out that a friend had crossed that boundary, you could feel frustrated or annoyed.
Explain to the group that this activity is all about boundaries of personal space. Ask your young people to pair up with somebody else – preferably someone they don’t know very well. Have them stand up facing each other about 1.5metres apart, calling one person A and the other B. Ask A to close their eyes and stand still. It may be helpful to have blindfolds. B should walk slowly and quietly towards A and A should shout: “Stop!” when they feel that B has got too close. They can then open their eyes and see how close they got. Switch roles and repeat.
Ask: What did you notice about people’s differing opinions around personal space? Did you learn anything about your own or others’ personal space demands? Explain that some people may have a much smaller area of personal space than our own. This is completely normal! You could ask about ways we can clearly set our physical space boundaries and remain respectful.
X and Y
Say: Two key aspects of a healthy romantic relationship are intimacy and commitment. These two elements are core values in our Christian faith. God talks a lot about sex in the Bible, usually in the context of marriage. He even dedicates a whole book – Song of Songs – which shares some raunchy sexual experiences. When the Bible was written, people didn’t really ‘date’ like we do, so, ‘where’s the line?’ isn’t directly answered in the Bible and isn’t necessarily a helpful question to ask. Rather, God talks a lot about healthy relationships, intimacy and commitment.
Ask a volunteer to draw an X and Y axis on the board with a line rising steadily (for the maths bods among you, an X=Y line is what we’re looking for). Explain that in relationships, intimacy grows at the same rate as commitment. So, the more committed you are to one another, the more intimate you are. Explain that as we think about how our intimacy and commitment grows in our relationship, we think about where our sexual boundaries are.
So, where are my sexual boundaries?
Say: We all have our own minds. We all make decisions, such as deciding where our physical boundaries are. We can also decide where our sexual boundaries are. This is a decision we need to make on our own and be wise about. It’s helpful to think about this before we start dating someone so we have our own boundaries decided.
Ask the group to split into pairs or threes. Using the X=Y line, discuss where sexual boundaries could be. You could even do it as an ‘advice session’ for a friend. If appropriate, ask groups to feedback and share their thoughts.
Explain that deciding your sexual boundaries isn’t an instant decision and here are some ways to help:
- Get together with your close friends and have an honest conversation about boundaries. Is it holding hands? Kissing? Making out on the sofa? Never being alone together?
- Ask God to explore this topic with you. Prayer is powerful and draws us into an intimate place with God so use it well.
- Ask questions of older friends or family members. Get this discussion going at the dinner table and find out what others believe God teaches on this topic.
The desire for sexual intimacy is good! God’s ideal isn’t to eliminate our sexual desire but rather to perfect it in love.
Ask for three volunteers naming them A, B and C. B goes out of the room while A quickly designs a maze in the room. They can use people, chairs – anything they can find. Put a blindfold on B and bring them in. C – the communicator – then has to guide B through the maze successfully to the end using only their voice. This game is all about effective communication.
Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Once you’ve decided where your sexual boundaries are it’s important to share that with the person you’re dating. Ultimately, if you can’t talk about sex with your partner, then should you really be having it? End the session by praying for one another, committing yourselves to God.