I’m a young adult and was wondering if it’s okay to go camping overnight with someone while dating them. We wouldn’t sleep together but near each other and it’s just the two of us, no one else. Is this inappropriate or breaking the law of chastity? Are there any boundaries we could set to avoid overstepping?
Thank you for your question! I can speak from experience on this one.
When I was young and in college, many years ago, I was engaged to be married to a woman at the end of one summer. She was also in college, and had landed a very prestigious career opportunity in a city that was several hundred miles away. I wanted to go and visit her before the wedding. However, being a college student and not having very much money, I wanted to save on my hotel bill by camping out in her backyard. I knew I was pushing some lines by technically spending the night at her house, but I figured, I was a returned missionary, I could handle it! I still had some doubts, so I went and asked my very wise branch president about the situation.
My branch president told me that, while I would not technically be violating the law of chastity by camping in my fiancee’s backyard, I was taking an awful, awful risk by being on an overnight activity with her. The temptation to break the law of chastity would increase exponentially in such a situation. I was right on the edge of righteous behavior. My branch president told me that he sees people all the time who honestly felt they could handle a tempting situation, but got too close to the edge and wound up sinning with their significant other, which often ended in disaster. They were sorry they sinned, but it was too late! Their foolish risk turned into a tragic fall that would require painful repentance to recover from.
Turns out, my branch president is not alone in giving this counsel. In his talk “Acting for Ourselves and Not Being Acted Upon“, President James E. Faust stated that “some young adults [are] surprised when they learned that it was inappropriate for mixed young single adult groups to be involved together in overnight activities. They said, “Why hasn’t the prophet told us? The Church counsel in this matter has been clear for many years. It should not have been necessary to tell these people to avoid the appearance of evil. My strong advice is, if there is any question about your personal conduct, don’t do it . . . Do not live on the edge.”
My advice for you is, overnight camping with someone you are dating is probably not a good idea. The risks are simply too great and the consequences too disastrous in such a situation. You may wind up marrying this person someday in the temple. Don’t jeopardize that over a camping trip.
As for the conclusion of my story, I took my branch president’s advice and I got a hotel room when visiting my fiance. A few weeks later, I married her in the temple, and we lived happily ever after.