Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 39 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
My first kiss from anyone other than a relative came in first grade. It was right after school and this girl named Lori came up on the playground, grabbed me and kissed me. . . ON THE LIPS. It was scandalous but it wasn’t sex.
I want to write today about kissing. I want to say up front that I’m not expecting everyone to agree with what I say here today and that’s ok. I’ve been on every side of this in my 20 years of singleness. I’ve messed it up on both sides. So let’s get real.
First a brief Justin kissing history. In high school, I kissed exactly one person. Not because I didn’t want to, or because I thought it wrong, but because I didn’t know how to go about it and I was not super popular with the ladies. When I got to college that all changed and I kissed pretty much every girl I went out with, usually on the first date. It was fun. I didn’t fool around with them, and I didn’t have sex with any of them. I don’t think it scarred anybody.
Then came my 20s and what I call the religious dating revolution of the 90’s. This was led by I Kissed Dating Good Bye and other such books. As I shared in an earlier post, I dated (courted, talked with, whatever she called it) a girl who went by a book with a chart. No kissing allowed. Now a lot of this made sense to me. I’d seen a lot of people fall into temptation. Then and now I get the argument.
I went ten years without kissing anyone. TEN years.
Now this started out as a religious “date right” decision. Then there was a time when there just wasn’t many options and my head was buried in ministry. But when I looked up after about five years I was in a new city, 31 years old, and had no confidence in this area of my life (not to mention no physical intimacy). I had new reasons for not kissing. In the back of my head was still the religious reasons, including “guarding the girl’s heart” (which mostly guarded her heart from liking me – ha) and frankly it had been a long time – could I deliver? I think it hurt me and helped keep me single.
Then I went on a date with a girl who pretty much did what Lori did in first grade – except in a car. It was still scandalous, and it still wasn’t sex.
Sense then I’ve been on a lot of dates and God has walked me through a lot of stuff. I’ve maybe kissed a couple of people I shouldn’t have and maybe even missed it when I should have. But here’s what I’ve come to believe.
I think kissing is ok.
In fact I think if you haven’t kissed by the third or fourth date you are in trouble. You are quickly approaching the no chemistry zone. Now the exception might be if you have both talked about it and said you don’t want to – that’s totally fine – your call. But I’m saying I think kissing is fine, in fact I think it’s good. I don’t think it’s sex or has to lead to it.
I’ve already talked about not having sex outside of marriage and I want to talk more later about having some healthy physical boundaries but when it comes to kissing I say yes please.
But. . . some important parameters.
First off, if you are not interested in the girl, then don’t kiss her. For the love do I need to type that? We’ve all had dates we just weren’t into. But here is where the third date thing comes into play. If by the third date you don’t want to kiss her, then probably it’s time to not date her. Sometimes we are passive about ending stuff. More on that soon.
This brings us to point two. This all assumes that the reason you are dating is to find someone to marry. I’m not talking here about running around kissing different random people. That is definitely not ok. I’m talking about you are trying to find a spouse and you meet someone you like and it is progressing. I think it is ok, good in fact, to kiss that person.
There are lots of traps that you can fall into, for example kissing all the time and never actually talking. But there are traps with being so religious that you don’t have any physical contact.
So, what do you think? When is it ok to kiss? Is it good, bad, or does it even matter? What does a kiss mean to you?