It is great to see you being serious about keeping your relationship with your girlfiend pleasing to God. As one poet has said,"dating is a dangerous game, temptation should be its name!"
Your question sounds very much like"how far can we go?". Unfortunately, while we would like a definitive answer, the bible doesn’t lay down a set of hard and fast specific boundaries, but rather gives a set of ‘principles’ for relationships. With these ‘principles’ we must then work out how to apply them in our situation.
But before we look at some of the principles, it is worth noting that God is not a kill-joy. In fact, his desire is that we live life to the full! He is the ultimate joy-giver, and his principles point us in the direction of complete joy and how to participate in a sexual relationship with someone that is exciting and fulfilling.
One of the clearest principles on this issue of physical relationships is Ephesians 5:3 -"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."
Sexual immorality is not just sexual intercourse outside of marriage. It includes sexual touching, lustful behaviour & even what we look at. The Bible says, to avoid even a hint of sexual immorality. This is the principle. Our lives are to be free of even the slightest notion of the sexual (unless married and only then with our partner). What this looks like in your situation specifically, might be different to someone elses. There are obviously some behaviours which all people agree are ‘off-limits’ - I won’t even mention these!
But when it comes to other behaviour, you must use your own wisdom as to whether it is sexual or not. Take hugging for example. There is a type of hug that is completely non-sexual. Then there are other hugs that begin to ‘hint of sexual immorality’. We know the difference, and we are called to avoid even a hint of sexual immorality.
A verse I memorised when I was in your situation was 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 -"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God". I encourage you to memorise this verse because it can be a great help in tempting situations.
There are several practical things that you can do which will help:
- Read the bible and pray together (this is always a good idea!)
- Pray for yourself and your partner, that you will be sexually pure and God will guard you against temptation.
- Talk about it with each other and be honest. This after all is the key to any good and lasting relationship. Ask her what she finds difficult or temting and serve her by avoiding such situations.
- Avoid situations that you know will be likely to tempt you (being alone in with her in a private place for example or if you are in a room together always leave the door open). This does not mean you cannot have privacy to talk about things together but seek to have these in places where you cannot be tempted to go further.
- Ask a select group of friends to “keep you honest”. Give them permission to aks you about it and be honest with them.
May God bless you in your relationship as you strive to honour Him in every way.