Writer's note: I would like to clarify that this essay does not address the morality of kissing before marriage. The Bible is silent on that issue, and so am I. What follows is simply an attempt to share why my fiancee and I have decided that our first kiss will be on the wedding day.
We’ll be married in December, and our lips have yet to meet.
Having been in physical relationships before I became a Christian three years ago, I understand the confusion that often surrounds abstinence. On so many levels, it just doesn’t make sense.
“It’s not healthy to deprive yourselves physically like that,” argued my brother, slightly offended.
“You’re marrying someone you’ve never kissed on the lips,” said a friend in disbelief.
“You have to test-drive the car before you buy it, man,” said another matter-of-factly.
Their logic is not lost on two hormone-ridden 22-year-olds.
Yet as Christians, my fiancee Morgan and I are devoted to protecting the purity of our relationship. The Bible teaches that marriage is the only place for physical intimacy. That means no kissing, no sex, no living together. No nothing.
So it’s been hand-holding and hugs for more than two years.
Yes, abstinence is hard.
There are times when I think, This would be the perfect moment for a first kiss.
And there are moments when I look into her soft brown eyes and know that we’re both thinking the same thing.
But here’s one of the things that keeps me going: For our second anniversary of dating, we decided to allow one forehead kiss for her at the end of our weekly date and one kiss on the cheek for me.
It brought me back to the nervous excitement of my pre-Christian days.
We waited for the end of the date to “find a good spot to do it.” Eventually we settled on outside her apartment, but suddenly I realized that after more than three years, I had totally forgotten how to kiss. I kept licking my lips, expecting them to moisten up. I could feel my sweat glands going into overdrive.
“Since when have I been afraid to make eye contact with my girlfriend?” I thought.
I looked at the floor, the ceiling, the door — anywhere but her expectant eyes. Finally I mustered some courage, moved in closer, puckered my lips, and kissed the air as she darted away.
“Sorry, I’m just nervous,” she said, (thankfully) just as much of a dork as I.
This happened three times before I finally managed to plant a dry, clumsy kiss on her forehead. Despite my lackluster performance, she melted into a puddle of contented silence in my arms.
Then she took a way-too-deep breath, and — within a second — kissed me on the cheek, ran to the door of her apartment, opened it, turned to me, and, just before she slammed the door shut, said, “You’re really cool!”
In that moment, I understood why we were waiting.
If a mere kiss on the forehead could give us such joy, I try to imagine the sheer electricity following the words “You may now kiss the bride.”
Thinking about that day is terrifying.
“What if we miss each other’s lips?”
“What if I forget to close my eyes?”
“What if we don’t kiss long enough?”
But then there’s the exhilaration of the first night, and the first morning after.
There’s the first time we invite friends over to our place.
There’s the first time we kiss, panic, then realize that it’s fine and go in for another. And another.
Perhaps we’re both a little crazy, but abstinence doesn’t seem all that bad.
Published with permission from the The Boston Globe.