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Some call it smooching. Others Frenching or playing tonsil-hockey. Very few go with the scientific term of philematology, but many of you are asking just how long you should save that first kiss. Amidst growing pressure for a Christian girl to save her first kiss for her wedding day, I see this decision becoming something of a fad. There’s even a Facebook page you can “like” to fuel you with self-control to save that first peck.

While each and every circumstance is different and I admire many who make that choice, I’m going to suggest that in most cases it’s not the best choice and can slowly grow into an unhealthy form of legalism and pride.

Let me explain.

Just a few months ago, I was counseling a young woman who’d made the choice to save her first kiss until her wedding day. It was more than devastating when she didn’t live up to the standard and ended up giving away much more than a kiss to a guy who was only a friend. Her healing process was unduly challenging. I think, for her, the decision to save her first kiss was a legalistic choice in an effort to conform to those around her rather than a specific personal calling prompted by time in communion with God. And that makes all the difference in the world! If your choice to save your first kiss is primarily to conform to people around you, please your parents, or fit in with your homeschool group…it is an empty decision that leaves you open to powerful temptations that may leave you giving up more than just a kiss. There are two reasons why I think a cart blanche decision to save your kiss until marriage isn’t wise.

First, we have to be careful not to make standards that are even the tiniest bit contrary to the heart of scripture. And scripture encourages kissing! The Apostle Paul encourages us to greet each other with a holy kiss. He doesn’t leave us a user manual, so what kind of kiss is this that he practically commands? To be sure, this isn’t your searching-the-cavern-kind-of-kiss. It’s not even a tempting-kiss. It’s an innocent peck of greeting like you might get from your uncle or your dad. We don’t kiss much in evangelical circles. I think that’s because we’ve reduced the kiss to an overtly sensual transaction in our culture and we’ve lost something. We’ve lost the sign of attachment that is meant by a sweet kiss. Every now and then I meet an older man or woman who has walked with God for so long that their lives exude love. They greet me with hugs and kisses no matter how well I know them. It feels like what I think Paul was talking about—a greeting by a family member. A deep love and affirmation that says “you belong.” I think that there’s a loss in defining all kisses as sensual. Let’s avoid that.

Second, I Timothy 5:2 says that guys are supposed to treat us like sisters, with absolute purity. I think that when we get obsessive about avoiding kisses that we run the risk of making all kisses sensual and that makes all guys sexual objects or predators. When in fact, we need to look at them as brothers who guard our purity. We give unnecessary power to the sexual tension between male and female friendships and define them as mostly sensual when we stop thinking of guys as brothers. And a brother would greet you with a kiss. My 21-year-old son greets his 18-year-old sisters with a big bear hug and a kiss on the head when he sees them. It’s warm, wonderful and safe. And the epitome of purity.

The biggest problem we have with kissing isn’t defining when we should share that passionate romantic kiss with our future husband. The biggest problem we have with kissing is in defining what one is. As a result, we’ve lost the innocence of a family kiss that says “you belong”, and ended up in a place where it’s much easier to be legalistic about a kiss than it is to be wise about one.

Now, don’t think for a second that I don’t think there are limits to kissing. More on that in my next post. Until then, I’d love your feedback. Do you get what I’m saying…that we’ve lost the innocence of a holy kiss? Do you think our culture has a chance of getting back the sweet kiss that the Apostle Paul wrote about?