Thursday, January 13, 2011

How kissing affects Chastity by Anthony Buono

When it comes to kissing or other forms of physical touch before marriage, the opinions about the when and how you do it will vary greatly, depending on who you talk to. As to how kissing is connected to maintaining virginity, that will also vary in opinion a great deal.

How we conduct ourselves is a reflection of our interior life. Therefore, the way we speak, the way we dress, the way we behave, etc., all bear witness to what is in our mind, heart, and spiritual life.

Kissing is not just something we do. It is an expression of the interior. Let’s be clear that it is a good thing. But there are different types of kissing, and each have their place. The most common three are the peck on the cheek, the pressing of lips, and the more passionate expression of kissing that is known as “French kissing,” where the tongue is involved.

I think we can immediately eliminate the peck on the cheek option as being anything negative. Kissing someone on the cheek displays a sign of affection, but hardly qualifies as something immoral or that would break down the defenses of purity that maintain one’s virginity. Friends and family express their love for each other this way (even men with other men in many cultures).

Now we turn to the kiss on the lips. This one must be considered in the area of the sacred, in my view. I’m sure many will think I am crazy, or perhaps old-fashioned, but the more I understand about the person, marriage, purity, and love, the more I think we are too flippant about the act of kissing.

What is wrong with a little kiss with someone you are dating? In one respect, nothing. Again, right now we are talking about a kiss on the lips. And I am not referring to the kind of quick kiss two young people might do because they are shy, curious and, well, young. I am referring to a kiss on the lips for a longer duration of time. There is nothing wrong with this. I don’t believe closed-mouth kisses are typically capable of exciting passions that lead to other physical activity, including that which would break down the defenses of purity that maintain one’s virginity. Unless, of course, the arms get involved. If you hug and press each other close for an extended period of time while kissing, then the risk of exciting passions increases, starting with the temptation to open the mouth and move on to the next kind of kiss.

But let’s stay with closed-mouth kissing for a moment. We agree it's not wrong, per se, nor immoral. However, there is symbolism to this action that needs to be considered. The prolonged kiss on the lips is a gesture that represents something more (or at least it should). It represents a willing offering of the heart. Particularly for a woman, a kiss represents the invitation to pursue her heart further.

Men should greatly respect this aspect of a women. And a good man is going to feel the same way. The alternative is the risk of heartbreak on either side, men as well as women. If there was kissing involved in a relationship that ends, no matter how brief, there is more given away than just the lips. In that kiss is given the affection that is rooted in the heart.

Every young girl dreams of her first kiss. Boys typically do not. They simply want to kiss a girl. Girls want to fall in love. The kiss is a symbol of that possibility. Boys just want to kiss for the pleasure of it. Girls want it to be so much more than that. And they have the power to inspire boys to feel that way too. In that respect, a woman can lead a man in chastity. But a man who has this sensibility and lives it in his dating life inspires the heart of a woman.

Saving your kiss for your future spouse may be difficult (if not impossible) for the modern world to practice, but it is wise to try and do. Kissing is definitely a precursor. Preserving your kiss also helps preserve your virginity for your future spouse. It means those who just want sex from you will flee pretty quickly. And that’s good, because that means you learned their quality; which is not much if they are not willing to wait. You are worth the wait.

The physical action of kissing is the first line of defense, and to express a physical kiss is to challenge the guards. Once past this guard, other physical allowances will then be challenged and succumbed to.

Let this external expression happen and the interior will is weakened. The more you do it, the weaker your will. It is folly to assume that purity can be maintained with passionate kissing. Perhaps there are rare people who have such strong self control that they can kiss deeply and stop there. But most of us cannot. There really is no place for this kind of kissing among two practicing, unmarried Christians. It is too dangerous, and our call to chastity requires we guard against stirring the passions.

I suggest focusing on the principle of kissing. We need more unmarried persons considering this. We need them to make the connection of the kiss and the heart, especially men when it comes to a woman’s heart. We need more virgins coming to the altar of the Lord on wedding days. I am convinced that kissing has much to do with why there are not more people who have saved themselves for their wedding day.

I realize those dating are faced with the expectations to have sex, even among Catholics, and that my kissing opinion seems unrealistic. We live in a sex obsessed world. Sadly, the kiss is not considered sacred, just as virginity is not. Why not bring back men kissing the hand of a woman? It is charming, it is respectful, it is gentlemanly, and it is very attractive. It also preserves purity while still expressing affection through a kiss.

I recognize that that it might be unrealistic to expect this, and that people do kiss people they don't actually end up marrying. I don’t want to imply that I think people are wrong, or bad, or immoral if they engage in kissing someone they don’t marry. It’s not a matter of what is wrong or right. I just want to challenge people to think about this more, and consider something counter-cultural and that might actually help the big picture when it comes to dating and marriage. It’s a matter of strengthening our will, because a weak will easily makes excuses for actions. We should consider what is important, and consider our motives, and consider the "Why?" of an action long before we "decide" to do it. Just maybe this will help protect purity even better.

Perhaps if we focused on preserving the kiss and seeing it as a gift rather than a right when dating, the issues of pre-marital sex and the loss of virginity would naturally go away. I just pray that my children, at least, will see it that way. I don’t intend to be unrealistic about this, but I am teaching them as they grow how things like kissing are connected to love, marriage, and virginity, and the meaning behind actions.

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