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All of these topics will, Lord willing, be covered in future columns.

We all know what we're talking about here, and these are not the things I mean to address in this column.The game changes when two people are romantically involved or "semi-involved" (a fascinating phrase I recently heard). Before you start throwing things at your computer — I can't feel it you know, you're just hurting your own computer — let's go to Scripture.I am obviously not saying that hugs and kisses of affection or greeting to relatives and the like is out of bounds. In some cultures, kisses of greeting — between members of the same sex or of the opposite sex — as well as hand-holding and other forms of physical expression during normal, non-romantic social intercourse, are more common. You might even be able to talk me into the notion that brief, "non-leaning-in" hugs of greeting, sympathy, etc.between men and women who are not romantically involved are OK.I'll start by putting my position right on the line: I believe the Bible to teach that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sin, and all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity. As the questions above indicate, however, many single Christians have questions about whether premarital physical activity at some level beyond kissing is OK.

We need to address the whole spectrum ("just kissing" included). First, the fact that "romantically oriented" is in italics above is important.Let's go through what I hope will become the usual drill here.I will lay out what I view to be applicable biblical principles and passages on this topic, and then I and the editors will leave it to you to follow up with blog posts, comments and discussion.In Song of Songs, God has given us a holy and beautiful picture of a marital sexual relationship, and everyone seems to be having an excellent time.Even there, however, God is clear that sex is uniquely for marriage: "Do not arouse or awaken love before it so desires (i.e., before it's appropriate — within marriage)." (Song 2:7) A blog comment or two emerging from the last column suggested a different interpretation of this verse and Song in general, but the orthodox interpretation of the book suggests both that an actual sexual relationship is part of what the narrative relays, and a context (at the time of the sexual part of the relationship) of marriage.by Scott Croft Before continuing with this column, please review the preamble included at the beginning of Scott's first article in this series, "Biblical Dating: An Introduction." * * * A promise is a promise.