How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There’s, uh, hugging, obviously, and holding hands . . . there’s hanging out and talking of course . . . I can, uh, tell you that I love you, that seems pretty straightforward . . . write you some poetry, maybe? I feel like that’s probably a pretty good list already.
Oh, uh, kissing? Well, uh . . .
Maybe back when I was 15-years-old or so I decided, purely on a whim, to not kiss until I knew I was going to marry the person I was locking lips with, while I was casually talking on the phone with my then-girlfriend. A decision that could, in all likelihood, lead to something more or less like this:
Some of you may recognize that gif from a post I wrote at the end of 2011, which was primarily about the TLC show Virgin Diaries. As the title clearly states [you can mouse over the link if you don’t want to click it], it was penned by a 21-year-old virgin, but what you may not have known then but know now is that I am a 23-year-old never-been-kissed virgin.
The question now on your minds: “Evan, you sad, small, presumably-extremely-lonely man, why have you done this?”
I guess the easiest answer to that would be that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Seriously, I sort of made that decision and then stuck with it for the next eight years. I even dated someone else after that first girlfriend broke up with me [directly related to the choice made during that phone conversation, something I wouldn’t find out for over a year after the fact], and I only ever used my lips for talking. Do not even get me wrong, I kind of wanted to kiss her all of the time. And didn’t.
So here I am, not having been in any sort of dating relationship since I was a teenager  and last week a friend starts discussing my “stance” [which is what we’re going to be calling it from this point on] and actively trying to talk me out of it. I’ve thought about it a lot since then and decided that the only way to really work through it was to write a Valentine’s Day blog post on the matter.
We’re going to be splitting this up into four sections: the pros and cons when it comes to kissing in general, and the pros and cons for me, personally.
In Support Of Smooching [General Pros]
It’s not a big deal.
People date and they kiss and that’s just the way life works, so there’s no need to make this into some sort of thing. People that I know and people that you know and, in all likelihood, you personally have engaged in a reasonable amount of liplocking and are by no means any worse off for it.
As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post it’s a great way to express how you feel about someone, and can also be a helpful indicator of how far along in a relationship you are [I feel like a robot writing like this and I don’t particularly enjoy it]. It’s nice, okay? Kissing feels nice. Yes, there are bad kissers, but in general it’s an enjoyable activity for both parties. That’s it, end of argument.
And as a final point, do you [and by “you” I mean “I”] really want your [same rule] first kiss to be in front of a crowd of people? That event should probably happen in private, seeing as it’s so personal and all. It could also be truly terrible to behold [see first gif used] which is a strong argument in and of itself.
Against Osculation [“General” Cons]
Before we get into where I’m coming from, let’s look at the, let’s be fair, Christian arguments on the internet to not kiss people until you’re sure. I’m going to be turning to the two top Google search results for “christian dating no kissing”.
Scott Croft, over at Pure Intimacy, wrote about “where to draw the line in a premarital relationship,” and was the number one result. Eight paragraphs in he plainly states his position as such:
“I believe the Bible to teach that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sin, and all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity. In my view, this includes premarital kissing.”
He then warns his readers to not angrily flip their laptops over like tiny tables [tables are the ideal object to flip over angrily], because he’s going to specify exactly what he means. I’ve read the article, and by “specify” he more or less means “I know what I wrote and you know what I wrote but by the end of this you are going to know it even more.”
I could go into more detail and pull more quotes, but I don’t really see the point. Basically Croft views kissing as a clear precursor to sexual intercourse, and as such is categorized as sexual activity, and as such has no place outside of marriage. Now we should move on before people get angry.
Over at Crosswalk, “The Intersection of Faith and Life”, we have a man and a woman giving their opinion on the subject, which I think is pretty great. Their article is actually a response to some guy [in his 30s, mind you] who was rebuffed by his girlfriend when he asked to kiss her.
Anyway, apparently it’s not ladies first over at Crosswalk, so first off is the man, Cliff Young [emphases his]:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:31-32).
Our actions should not cause someone else to misinterpret the Bible, find justification for wrong behavior, nor lead them to or exacerbate a problem they may already be struggling with. The difficulty comes when one person feels free to act in a certain way while another does not.”
Young goes on to say that the two just need to talk about it and work it out. He mentions that this is a highly contentious issue that “we will never have a clear cut consensus among believers as to the appropriateness of how far one should (or can) go when dating.” I want to say that the vast majority of Christians probably agree that you stop at sex, but he admits that it’s an especially contentious issue when it comes to kissing, which is true.
Next up is Kris Swiatocho, who admits upfront that while she wishes that “[she] was a kiss virgin” she “just [doesn’t] know if [her] hormones would last that long.” Her most pertinent paragraph is this one:
“Everyone is different regarding kissing before marriage. More than likely, if the person has been raised to only date those that are possible marriage material, then kissing is something you would want only for the ‘one.’ It’s one thing to peck someones [sic] lips, but to french kiss takes you to a new level of intimacy. Intimacy that often leads to other things.”
Both Swiatocho and Young have an answer that boils down to this: people agree and disagree on whether or not “premarital kissing” is a sin, but we should test our hearts against Scripture. Also it can lead to other things, so just watch out, bud.
Sticking By Snogging [Personal Pros]
Yeah, I can imagine kissing feels pretty great. There’s also the matter of finding a young lady who has made roughly the same decision I have. Without that sort of shared mindset about physical intimacy things can turn ugly, i.e. like this:
As another friend I talked to about this opined, girls who feel the same way about kissing that I do are likely extremely conservative. Like, feminism-is-tearing-apart-the-traditional-family conservative. Like I-think-that-homosexuality-is-directly-comparable-to-bestiality conservative. Like dinosaur-bones-were-put-on-Earth-by-Satan-to-trick-us conservative. I was going to make a graphic illustration as to how that physically makes me feel, but I’ll refrain.
Deciding not to kiss until I’m sure I’m going to wed said woman is going to put strain on the relationship, that much is obvious. This could take the form of my girlfriend wondering why I don’t like/love her enough to kiss her, and that sounds like an awake nightmare to me.
So kissing is probably rad and it would help me in finding a girlfriend, which I’m sort of going to need if I one day want to get married and father progeny [I do want that].
Not Game For Tonsil Hockey [Personal Cons]
This is admittedly going to be pretty shaky, which I think is going to be pretty par for the course when it comes to most life-affecting decisions made back in high school.
I didn’t mention this anywhere above, but a big reason I’ve stuck with this is because I’m pretty into the idea of only ever kissing one person. It’s basically how the majority of Christians view sex, but taken to the extreme. But really, not having anyone else to compare to doesn’t seem terrible; it actually sounds kind of great. Yes, that is a little sappy if you think about it but this is Valentine’s Day, so we’re all going to let it slide.
A somewhat related point is that I know from past relationships how emotionally attached I can get, and that’s without really any physical intimacy. It’s hard for me to imagine how difficult it would be for me to move on given that added level of connection.
With the strongest points out of the way, everything else is so-so at best. At this point I’m a 23-year-old man who’s never pressed the lip parts of his face to those of another in a romantic fashion, and now it’s a bigger deal than ever. Might as well just keep up with it, right? I’ve gotten this far, so why stop? I mean, it’s not like I’m having to keep women off of me, y’know?
So Where Does That Leave Us [Me]?
I think what’s most telling about all of this is that temptation/losing control takes up exactly zero parts of my personal pros and cons. That’s because I don’t personally think that kissing will cause me to round the bases, or even get to any [I don’t know anything about how bases work]. As it stands, that’s where most of the general Christian consensus is coming from when it comes to why not to do it.
Which very much makes me feel like this is a personal choice, which I think is just about as starkly apparent a fact as any. Of course it’s a choice I have to make. Except not quite. Like I said under my Personal Pros it’s a decision that directly involves the other person, because a relationship takes two people who ideally agree and get along with one another.
To address the personal issue of emotional attachment, seven years is a lot of life experience. I’m not the same person now as I was then, so who’s to say that I’ll approach relationships the same way? It’s something to keep in mind and consider, but also to remember how I’ve matured.
Really, all of this leaves me exactly nowhere, seeing as I’m single and don’t see that changing at any point in the near future. At the very least I’m much more open-minded about my stance [I thought I was going to use that word a lot, but this is only the second time in this whole post] than I ever have been, and that’s something, I think. I mean, either way I’m positive I’ll end up feeling like Spock here-
I’m pretty sure that I know how this is going to turn out, but I’m going to do it anyway. Below is a poll in which you can vote on whether or not I should stick to a decision made in my adolescence and that I continue to hold to now as an adult person. Of course leave any further comments below, since I’m very interested in what people think about this whole thing.
Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day.
You should throw caution to the wind and go out and smooch a stranger today.
If you keep idolizing sex/kissing, you’re going to be very disappointed when you end up doing it with one person with the rest of your life. Make kissing a special way of expressing love, but don’t put it on a pedestal above the one you love.
If you make a conscious decision to not kiss (as your teenage self did), you’re doing it wrong. If you meet a girl and decide she’s the last girl you want to kiss, you’re doing it right. Don’t put the decision before the person. Make the decision because of the person. Don’t let someone tell you that the Bible says that premarital sex/kissing is wrong. That’s a lie There are plenty of GOOD reasons to abstain (including a more Holy, Godly life), but basing your decision on a falsehood will not help it stand.
Live first for God, and live second for the one you share your life with.
I felt the same way with you about only wanting to kiss one person, but I also shared the concerns about awkward kissing in front of everyone I know in the whole world. So, I decided to wait until I was engaged to kiss, which isn’t a guarantee of marriage, but it seemed close enough to me while still being not the most public thing in the world.
So, that being said, I think there are girls out there who are not extremely conservative who also want to wait to kiss. However, you can’t really control someone’s past. You have to decide what you want to do for yourself, not how you want your future spouse to be. I only ever kissed and dated one person, but he had dated and kissed someone before, so you have to be prepared to accept someone where they are, not expect that if you act a certain way in your relationships, your future spouse will act the same way in their relationships. (For example, I hate that Christian song that’s like, “Wait for me as I wait for you!” You have no control over other people’s actions, no matter how much you might pray for your future spouse or write letters in a journal to them.)
I really liked what that guy said about not causing others to stumble and about communicating. I think that’s really how we should think about physical boundaries before marriage instead of constantly trying to define where the line is that everyone should obey. A huge problem with that is that no matter how convicted you are about your personal boundaries, if you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t agree with your boundaries and doesn’t respect them, it’s really hard to maintain those convictions, especially with extended adolescence and delayed marriage playing into it. I think it shouldn’t really be, “Should we kiss or should we not?” but “Do I feel comfortable kissing at this point, and does the other person respect me if I’m not comfortable?”
This is also really interesting to me, because kissing is really taboo in India. I once read this tabloid article about a Bollywood star who was kissing a director in order to get parts in his movies. It was written the same manner as a tabloid article in the US about an actress sleeping with a director to get parts. This is because, in most of India, kissing is considered to be a part of sex, so if you’re kissing someone, it’s almost like you had sex with them. It’s really interesting, and I think it just shows that there really is no one right way or one right line to stop at before marriage. It all depends on how comfortable you feel and what you feel is too far or too much. As Paul says, if it seems sinful to you to eat meat offered to idols, and you eat it, that is a sin to you, and whoever you’re with should respect that.
I’m boycotting the poll for many of the reasons that Orion up there listed. But, as Olivia said, you do you.
I will generally hold that, like Orion said, the kissing (and even, personally, the sex) should not be considered above the person. There’s a whole Christian morality thing in here that I’m not gonna weigh into, but I really do believe that it tends to be psychologically unhealthy to focus on the act abstracted.
Not to mention that I’ve known couples who’ve made the no-kissing decision and then skipped to a couple of subsequent bases, which involved guilt and confused feeling all around.
A little context for all of the readers who aren’t friends with me on Facebook. Also because I love the phrase “you do you.”
I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone boycott a poll before.
As a Christian, my conviction is that kissing is fine if it’s a demonstration of affection, but not fine if it’s foreplay. Even holding hands can be done “sensually” if the intention is to give and get sexual pleasure from it. Note that I’m differentiating from physical pleasure, since there are many physical sensations that are pleasant without being sexual.
Since any sexual activity will ONLY be gratified in actually having sex, it pretty much guarantees a frustrating experience for those save-it-for-marriage club members who engage regularly in foreplay without finishing up.
However, demonstrations of affection are important, and if you can hold hands, cuddle, or even kiss without it getting sexual (marked by continually wanting more and deterioration of boundaries), that’s probably fine. And I’d even say that it’s worth examining your heart regularly and being sensitive to real time conviction – it could be fine for you and a girl to kiss on one day but totally uncool the next, simply because your hearts may not be in the same place from day to day.
So, I guess I have to comment because I have quite a few thoughts on this topic.
First off I think we put way too much pressure on this idea of a “right way” to do things, particularly among Christians. There’s a way I did things and a way I think things went well but I by no means think I know what’s best for you.
That said let me talk about my experience with kissing. When I was a teenager I was in a very physical relationship that involved kissing and much more not appropriate to go into in a blog comment. I believed at the time that the relationship was going to end in marriage and so all of the physical activity was not only okay, but right. I viewed it as an expression (even an affirmation) of our long term commitment. I now count that relationship as one of the biggest regrets of my life. I think kissing is very special and that I wish I had not treated it so lightly. As you mentioned kissing adds a whole new level of emotional entanglement and makes moving on very difficult. It took me years to move past the pain of that break-up largely because of how much I had invested in it emotionally and physically.
After that relationship I committed to be much more intentional about physicality in my relationships and as my wife (Jenny for those who don’t know) mentioned above we did not kiss until the day I proposed. I think that was the right choice for us. I do think it’s better not to have your first kiss at the altar though. My first kiss with my wife was awkward because I’m an idiot. Better to do that in private so there’s no pressure or fear at the wedding.
Now, I say I think that was the right choice for us because I have known many people who kissed before they were engaged and I think no less of them for it. I don’t think they made bad choices. They just made different choices than I did.
I think what it ultimately comes down to is communication. Jenny and I decided together where we wanted to go physically and abiding by that decision was an issue of mutual respect. Communication is key in any aspect of a relationship of course, but I think physicality is a little bit less about compromise and more just about respect. I mean, if one half of a couple wants to have sex and the other half doesn’t even want to hold hands should they compromise and make out? I personally think that in a situation like that it is best to respect the wish to wait more because with patience and commitment the one who wants more will end up getting it all eventually.
So, to speak specifically to your situation I think it’s interesting that you mention you hope to meet a girl who holds similar views to yourself, though without stomach turning levels of conservatism. My idea would be more not just a girl who doesn’t want to kiss right away but one who respects that you don’t want to and is willing to accept that because they consider you worth it. I mean, it’s pretty shallow to leave you just because you won’t “give it up.” If a girl thinks your hot lips are worth waiting for then I think you can build the kind of mutual respect that a long-term committed relationship needs.
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