Premarital Kissing
by Sarah Faith Schlissel

Editor's note:  We have received an enormous amount of feedback about this article.  Not much of it profitable or suitable for re-printing.  However, a recent reader poised the question, "Can you please explain to me why kissing and especially passionately kissing with another person before marriage is not in our best interest? What does God say about it and why does he not want us to do it?"  You can read my response by clicking HERE.

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There are those who would argue that it is not wrong to kiss before marriage. To refute this we could look at statistics of couples who thought they could start the fire and shut it at will, and found they were wrong. We could state the number of pregnancies that started as "innocent" goodnight kisses. We could look at all the practical reasons not to kiss before marriage. But those who defend the activity might still say, "Perhaps it's best to refrain, but I don't see it condemned in the Bible, so it can't be sin." This is a weak argument at best.

First, a definition of the term. Obviously, not every kind of extramarital kiss can be wrong. The apostle Paul expressly commands us, on several occasions, to greet one another with a holy kiss. (It would be a stretch to say that Paul was instructing husbands and wives to do something which normally requires no prompting). But premarital kissing does not fall under the same category as kissing a fellow believer, your sister, your dog or your parakeet. In Genesis 26 we read that God told Isaac to stay with the Philistines in lieu of going to Egypt. When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he told them that Rebekah was his sister, because she was beautiful, and he was afraid that the men would kill him to get at her. In verse 8 we read, "When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, "She is really your wife! Why did you say, 'She is my sister?'" This shows that there is a type of activity which is only appropriate with a wife, and not appropriate with a sister.

What is premarital kissing? For the purpose of my argument, premarital kissing is engaging in that kind of kissing with someone other than one's spouse which is inappropriate with a sibling, in activity and motive. What is the purpose of such kissing? Some would say that it is a legitimate display of affection between a couple who is courting or (horrors) dating. But let's face it, it is not merely an innocent display of affection. It is a display of passion. See definition above. It is rather far-fetched to deny the intimate and emotional nature of a kiss. You would not kiss your mom or dad in the same way you kiss your wife or husband. If you're arguing for that type of kissing before marriage, no argument here. It's ok after marriage, too. But I am speaking of the type which is unique to a husband/wife relationship and imitators thereof. "If you wanna know if he really loves you so, it's in his kiss"?

Kissing in this way outside of the bonds of marriage neither proves nor enhances true love. Rather, it proves, demonstrates, enhances a physical attraction that is Biblically classified as lust when not consecrated in marriage. While the physical aspect is a necessary ingredient in a marriage, it is not necessary for a premarital relationship. Rather, it hinders true communication between the couple. Why is premarital sex wrong? Isn't one reason that we are to keep ourselves pure for the person who will one day be our spouse? We may not have sex with anyone who is not our lawful spouse. Those who are single do not have a lawful spouse. Therefore, singles may not have sex. End of story. Now let me ask you a question. How happy would you be if, after taking wedding vows, your beloved passionately kissed someone other than you on the lips? I daresay you wouldn't like it much. If you would, then you are not being an imitator of God in His jealousy for what is His own, and should repent. Well, what right have we to kiss someone now in a way that is not lawful later? Can we not extend this to say: We may not kiss anyone who isn't our lawful spouse; someone who's single has no lawful spouse; therefore singles may not kiss? Take a moment to look at it this way. Let's assume for the moment that premarital kissing is permissible. For the purposes of the argument, it is fine for you to passionately kiss someone when you're single. Is the person you're kissing your husband or wife? Obviously not. Therefore, we have a premise: It is OK to kiss someone who is not your lawful spouse. Logically extending that idea, what is to prevent a married person from passionately kissing someone she/he isn't married to? What's that you say? "No, they can't"? Why ever not? It must have something to do with the nature of marriage and the nature of a passionate kiss.

I maintain that the reason extramarital kissing is not permissible is that such kissing is sexual in nature. This agrees with both A and B. Working backwards, then, it would be wrong extramaritally, and it would be wrong premaritally. "Show me a verse that says 'No Kissing'", you say. "Scripture doesn't even mention it. You can't make me feel guilty for doing something the Bible doesn't forbid." There are many expressions of passion that are not specifically recognized in Scripture yet which are wrong to engage in outside of marriage. Can you find me a Scripture passage condemning petting, or other practices that don't go "all the way" to include the act of intercourse, yet involve passion and intimacy between unmarried persons? How about a passage that condemns homosexuals kissing? Or one that says you can't smash your neighbor's windshield? You can't, because they don't exist. And yet I hardly expect you to condone those practices. The key is that these actions are subsumed under the broader heading of "sexual immorality." I would submit that premarital kissing, because of its very nature, also falls into this category. The Heidelberg Catechism assures us that some sins are more heinous than others. Just because one sin is less heinous than another doesn't mean that it is not, therefore, sin. Christ himself warns us that if we hate our brother we have already murdered him in our heart. Therefore, hating our brother is sin. It is not punishable here on earth, but such a thought will be judged.(Matthew 5:22)

The Scriptures command us to keep a heart that is clean and free from sin. We should not, we may not seek to go as far as we can without violating the letter of the law. When we so seek, we are already violating the spirit of the law. Cain tried the same trick, and it didn't do him good. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise. (Psalm 51:17) Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28) How much more, then, has someone committed adultery who does not just confine himself to looking, but also touches in an inescapably sexual way?

It is GOOD for a man not to touch a woman.(1 Corinthians 7:1) Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.(Galatians 5:16) Treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.(1 Timothy 5:2) Some have said that to them, kissing doesn't mean anything. I have acquaintances who kiss first and ask questions (like "What's your name?") later. This is dangerous, as demonstrated through the experience of one of those acquaintances. She felt that since kisses meant little, she owed something more than that to the boyfriend she "really loved." If such kissing is to mean anything, if it is to convey love and affection, passion and intimacy, as God ordained that it should, it is only properly done by a husband and a wife.

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Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01