Applying Romans 14 to Marital Lovemaking
Spiritually, most Christians consider romantic touch a matter of individual conscience. The Bible doesn’t give one set of behavioral guidelines here for everybody, so the principles of Romans 14 should certainly apply. Let’s each read this chapter devotionally, letting it and God read us as we do. To see how it applies to our romantic touching, we would need to try replacing the words brother, eat, vegetables, and food or meat with the words partner, enjoy, kissing and touching. If your conscience agrees for you to excuse or translate the all-male pronoun selections, you could read it this way, and the NIV would then teach the following, with italicized words changed as suggested:[verses 1-3] Accept anyone whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One mate’s faith allows him or her to enjoy all touching, but another mate, whose faith is weak, enjoys only kissing. The one who enjoys all touching must not look down on one who does not, and the one who does not enjoy all touching must not condemn the one who does, for God has accepted them both. . . . [verses 13-15] Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your partner’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no act of touching is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your partner is distressed because of what you enjoy, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your touching destroy your partner for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. . . . [verses 19-23] Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. It is better not to enjoy touching or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your partner to stumble. So whatever you believe about these things, keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they enjoy touching, because their touching is not from faith. And everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Insights from Romans 14
The more liberal partner is considered having stronger faith.
Yet that partner is called to sacrifice for the sake of the other’s spiritual growth and well-being.
Any activity that has not been put under the direction of God is troubled by sin.
In short, when either is in doubt or conflict about an act of touching, hold off. This gives the Holy Spirit
time to grow patience and compassion in one of us, and stronger faith in the other.