Is Kissing Before Marriage a Good Litmus Test?

by | May 31, 2023 | Parenting Teens | 84 comments

Kissing Before Marriage Litmus Test for Character
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Are we missing something if we save kissing for marriage? 

One of the tenets of purity culture was that all physical contact–even kissing–should be saved for marriage. It wasn’t just that sex is for marriage. It was that kissing was too. Some couples didn’t even hold hands before the wedding (or waited until they were engaged to hold hands).

Now, this was the official teaching in books like I Kissed Dating Good-bye (and others), but our surveys for our books The Great Sex Rescue and She Deserves Better found that this wasn’t widely practiced. However, we do see that among millennials, a minority did start saving kissing for the wedding, which was a huge anomaly. Virtually no Baby Boomers or Generation X women waited for the wedding; we did see about 12% of millennials in our survey waiting (our survey was heavily weighted towards more conservative evangelical Christians).

If people feel convicted about waiting for the wedding, that’s perfectly fine. It is your choice.

But I’d like to ask the question today: could kissing teach us something?

A few months ago I had a mini-series talking about kissing, and a commenter left this comment that has stayed with me:

Kissing is what my girlfriends and I used to call the rape test. Kissing allows you to see how gentle he is, if he conflates passion with aggression (a very common conflation in our pornified culture), if he respects boundaries, does he mirror your body language and pull back when you do or does he pull you closer when you’re trying to pull back and even act offended… Kissing is so predictive of sex, I just think it’s downright unsafe to marry a man without kissing him first, all the more so in the evangelical culture where he hasn’t had a proper sex education or learned explicitly about consent.

I thought that was a really interesting “test.”

Passion 4 Dancing

Kissing before marriage can teach us about consent

Let’s break down what our commenter said:

  1. Is he gentle?
  2. Does he think passion = aggression?
  3. Does he respect boundaries?
  4. Does he pick up on your cues?
  5. Does he act offended if you pull back?

These are actually great questions that kissing can tell you.

Given that over 80% of teenage boys have watched pornography today, and that porn is the main sex ed that many boys have, if you then have absolutely no physical contact until marriage, you’re solidifying porn as the only sexual “experience”  he’ll have. And the vast majority of porn today is violent and non-consensual. It shows women being used aggressively, and it tends to show women enjoying this.

You do NOT want to marry someone that will think you enjoy aggression or being hurt, and who thinks that if you say no, that’s a sign to keep going (as it is in porn).

This does not mean that all boys who watch porn will be violent. 

Not at all. And our survey of men showed that, if men stop watching porn before the wedding, their chance of a healthy sex life is almost the same as if they had never watched porn at all. This is something guys can recover from if they choose to and if they do the work.

At the same time, though, how will you know that he doesn’t have this attitude towards sex?

Some guys are great in every other way, showing consideration, being kind, but when it comes to sex it’s like a light switches and they’re a different person, because they’ve equated selfishness, entitlement, and aggression with sex.

As another commenter said, in response to the “litmus test” comment:

Wow, if I’d have known about this test (and followed it), I’d have never gotten married. Once while we were dating he forced his tongue in my mouth when we’d agreed on only quick pecks at the end of our dates. He said it was an accident, but really? I was young and naive, so I believed him. If only I’d known what a red flag that was…

We need to teach our kids about consent and what they should expect when kissing. If we simply tell them not to do anything until the wedding, we can miss these really important moments when someone reveals who they are sexually.

The rest of the world is figuring out the link between kissing and consent!

I haven’t watched the new Little Mermaid movie, and know nothing about it except that they switched the lyrics to their song “Kiss the Girl.” I think that’s so interesting!

“Kiss the Girl” Original Lyrics

“Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too
There is one way to ask her
It don’t take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl.”

“Kiss the Girl” Updated Lyrics

“Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too
Use your words, boy, and ask her
If the time is right and the time is tonight
Go on and kiss the girl.”

I think that’s an interesting cultural shift!

Kissing before marriage also shows if there’s attraction–and the things that lead to good sex

In terms of our original commenters points, let’s just look at #4–does he pick up on your cues?

Now, when you’re just getting used to kissing this may not happen. But if you’ve been kissing for a while, you’ll be able to tell if he’s adjusting to you or not. Is kissing something that he is doing TO you, or is kissing something that you are doing together as a way to show affection and how you feel about each other? 

If he’s just mauling your mouth with no consideration to what you are trying to show him with your own body language, it’s quite likely this is what sex will be like as well. If kissing is seen as something he gets to do, and gets to enjoy, rather than something you do together, this isn’t going to stop once you start doing more things.

And kissing also shows you whether there’s attraction between the two of you. Do you enjoy kissing him? Because if you really don’t, are you going to enjoy having sex with him for decades? Is this something you want?

We did talk to women in our focus groups who married without much physical attraction, but the didn’t realize there wasn’t physical attraction because they hadn’t kissed and they had been told to turn off their sexuality so much they just thought they were doing a good job, and it would all come after they said “I do!” But that attraction never did come.

A marriage can still be strong, and a sex life can still be good, even if there’s not a lot of attraction. You can focus on bringing each other pleasure anyway, and I do know a lot of couples who have weathered this.

But it’s also not something you necessarily want to choose for yourself when you’re super young.

Kissing before marriage does not need to lead to sex.

This is what so many millennials especially were told: Once you start kissing, you won’t be able to stop and you’ll end up having sex, so you need to save kissing.

I can tell you from the data for She Deserves Better that the vast majority of people who had their sexual debut after the wedding also kissed before marriage. 


She Deserves Better!

Because we all deserve a big faith.

Your daughter deserves better than what you likely grew up with in church.

What would it look like to prepare the next generation without toxic teachings about modesty, sex, or consent, and instead set her up for a big faith?

Kissing doesn’t need to lead to anything else. 

Yes, it’s important to figure out what your boundaries are, and it’s even more important to abide by the boundaries of the person you’re with.

But I think it’s worth asking:

Can kissing before marriage teach us something important?

I think the answer is yes.

Again, this doesn’t mean that you HAVE to kiss before marriage. If you choose to wait because you think this is something God is calling you to, by all means, wait.

But then have some discussions about consent. Have some discussions about how you’re going to honor each other in the bedroom to make sure that sex isn’t only about him. Make sure there are other ways that you can answer these big questions about character that may be hard to assess in other ways.

You both matter, and everyone deserves a spouse who will make sex mutual, rather than selfish, and who will honor boundaries.

Kissing Before Marriage

What do you think of kissing as a litmus test? Do you think you miss out on something by waiting to kiss? Or do you think that’s a good idea? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Angharad

    Ah, the Great Kissing Debate! So much of what I read growing up was along the lines of ‘if you kiss before marriage, you won’t be able to stop yourself having sex – or if you CAN stop yourself, then it shows you’re not attracted to each other enough and you shouldn’t be getting married at all.’ So a no win situation! I have friends who chose not to kiss until their wedding day, and I respect their choice – if I had married younger, I probably would have made the same choice, as it was pushed very strongly as the ‘ideal’ and those who didn’t have their first kiss at the altar were seen as ‘second class Christians’. But for me, kissing before marriage was important.

    We started kissing shortly before we got engaged. The first time we kissed, I felt uncomfortable but I said I was ok with it because I didn’t want to upset him. He told me my body language was telling a different story, and he didn’t think I was ok with it. He reassured me that it was fine not to kiss and that he didn’t want us to kiss unless we were both enthusiastic about it. I found this totally transformed my outlook, to realise that he had such respect and care for me, and it wasn’t long before I was able to enjoy kissing.

    As someone who experienced sexual assault by ‘Christian’ men, I was nervous and anxious about sex. Realising that I had gone from being nervous about kissing to enjoying it made me feel confident that I could make the same transition with sex once we were married. Seeing how considerate he was before marriage, and how determined he was that we only did what we were both comfortable with gave me confidence to trust him after marriage. So 100% in favour of pre-marriage kissing here, though my personal view is that I’m glad we waited until later in the relationship, when we knew it was serious.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so beautiful! Every time you write about your husband I like him more.

  2. Sheila Wray Gregoire

    By the way–I make it a policy not to identify commenters, because I don’t want them subject to harassment in any way. But if that commenter who said the original thing about the litmus test (and I know who she is!) would like to be identified, just reply to this and I’ll put your name in the box!

  3. Anonymous

    I had a friend recently tell me that “once you start kissing and making out, it’s like a timer starts and it’ll only be three or four months until you have sex, so if you want to wait until you get married hold off on kissing [until you’re within that time frame from the wedding]”. Is this any different from the “start kissing and it will automatically lead to sex” message? She was talking about kissing and making out over a period of time, not that any time kissing begins sex will happen, but… idk, it made me feel like she was saying that it didn’t matter what my boyfriend and I had agreed to or what boundaries we had set in place, once we started kissing sex was inevitable before the wedding if we didn’t get married in a certain time frame. I was curious to hear your thoughts?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      There’s really no evidence for what she’s saying! Yes, people who kiss a lot are more likely to have sex. But it’s not like 80% or 90%. And it definitely doesn’t have to lead to sex. There just isn’t a lot of statistical backing for that claim.

      • Megan

        I suspect the logic goes something like this: relationships are supposed to get more intimate as you go along (so far so good). There is some predetermined rate at which a relationship gets more intimate. So therefore if you have hit the “making out” milestone you have 3-4 months before you will reach the “having sex” milestone.

        This of course assumes that all relationships get more intimate at the same rate and that if you have hit a previous milestone you must therefore hit the next one. While it kinda makes sense in theory, the lack of agency here is astounding

        • Anonymous

          Megan – those are really good points! And I agree, it’s such a huge lack of agency, which is another thing that really bothers me.

      • Anonymous

        It’s comforting to know there isn’t evidence backing it up! Because I do want to kiss before getting married (or even engaged) because I 100% agree that it’s a good litmus test. But, I also want to date for a longer period of time because I want to be sure I actually know the person I’m with and am not just seeing him through rose-colored glasses.

        I just… hear stuff like what my friend said, and it makes me feel like I’m being unreasonable in my belief that people can be capable of enough self control to kiss before 3-4 months out from the wedding and still wait til after to have sex. (Made worse by the fact that I’m 28 and have only ever dated one guy, and that lasted about a month and a half, so I don’t feel like I have experience to back me up.)

        Thank you! Y’all’s work has been life-changing and life-giving for me – I appreciate what you do so much.

        • Angharad

          We started kissing a couple of months before we got engaged – I can’t exactly remember when – but we were engaged for over 8 months, so probably 10 months ‘kissing time’ before our wedding and we didn’t have a problem saving sex until after we married – this also included a postponed wedding thanks to Covid. The time between our planned wedding date and our actual wedding was probably the hardest, but it was hard because we had to wait and we didn’t know how long for, not because we were struggling not to jump into bed together. Our focus from the start had been on pleasing God with our relationship, and we believed one way to do that was to save sex for marriage – having the marriage delayed didn’t change that. If we’d been more focussed on ‘rules’, then I suspect we might have tied ourselves in knots trying to come up with a justification for not waiting any longer. Rules that state how long, how often, how soon you can kiss should be ditched – keeping your relationships right in God’s eyes is a matter for conversation between you and Him, not a tick box exercise.

        • Bernadette

          Going to the beach together is another litmus test. When you wear a swimsuit, does he still look you in the eye?

          • Bernadette

            Woops! This was not meant as a reply.

    • shevrae

      I dated my husband for two years before we got married and we started kissing a few weeks into dating. I’m not going to say it was the easiest thing in the world to wait for marriage, but it wasn’t an impossible task either. We just practiced good boundaries around alone time.

  4. Nathan

    > > I make it a policy not to identify commenters

    Way ahead of you. I don’t use my real name here.

    • Phil

      That is hilarious “Nathan” Fyi to all Not meant to be demeaning to others. Cuz I get it, anonymity is important. However, I am real. My name is Phil and my story is firm. It is not my friends story. My anonymity here has been based on the fact well there are lots of Phil’s and I am not easily searchable on the internet because I lack history on social media. You used to be able to find me under a permit from my old business and linkedin still pulls me up last I checked. However, this past winter my Mother In – Law showed me a picture of me on the internet from High School w/mullet and all. I was like how the heck did you get that? She got it from and she told me – a High School year book is considered public information. So I look at it this way. If you can find me and you do that much work to do so then ok – my question is what is your MO? Want to say hello? come on! – my door is open. Want to harm me? Well…you have a layer of crap to get through first and besides I have a BIG GOD who looks after me. At this point my direct family knows my story and who I am very well. My youngest will graduate to the full of my story next year when he turns 14. I am not afraid of my past because that is not who I am today. Anyway this little side conversation has apparently set me off to talk a lot lol.

    • Amy A

      Yeah I use a pseudonym too hehe. I want to be able to say vulnerable things that could help others without worrying about how anyone I know who may see my comment will perceive me or any people I may mention.
      I will say, though, even though I’ve always clicked the box asking for my information to be saved for the next time I comment, this has never worked for me. I have no idea how Phil has a profile picture, too.

      • Lisa Johns

        Same here — never saves my info! Oh well, the suggest-text bar still saves me time. 😁

  5. Anna

    Oh I love this! I was taught (by my mom and stepdad) that kissing was good but when your hands start roaming that’s a sign to stop.

    They recently moved from the house that I lived in with them before my husband and I were married (decades ago). I joked with my husband asking if he wanted to make out on the front steps one last time.

    Now we DID go too far; even if we didn’t go “all the way” before marriage. We both had porn exposure and some other trauma. We’ve recently been dealing with that again. But even with that so much of this rings true. I think; given his recent struggles with condemnation, he would be very encouraged to hear where our history falls with these tests. I have always felt safe with him. Any boundaries we crossed; we crossed together. And those were laid at the foot of the cross where they will stay.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s great, Anna! I’m glad this could be an encouragement to you.

  6. Lynne'

    I for sure wish I had known about kissing and affection being a litmus test! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to save kissing or not, but I can look back and see how my lack of knowledge and also the main teaching being to follow the lead of the guy just totally messed up my own ability to understand what *I* myself would want or like. On the one hand, my husband and I did figure things out and I would have said that sex was the best part of our marriage, but there were so many small things in so many other areas that could have been healthier. The lack of consent or being attuned to the other goes all through a relationship. If you can’t be honest about intimate places it can also be that you can’t be honest about other areas in life and how to work together .. if he doesn’t listen to your words and tries to “read your mind”.. well, since that isn’t possible that isn’t going to work!
    I wonder if many of us who might be more affectionate types married guys who were avoidant and we didn’t know it would be like that because we avoided affection before marriage! Because that is what we were taught to do! And then are maybe disappointed after marriage that he doesn’t seem to like holding hands or the sweet daily affection stuff and seems avoidant.
    I think it would be wiser to think of what affection you would be comfortable expressing in front of other people at least and go with that. If he doesn’t like that before marriage (or you don’t) then you will know!

  7. Lynn

    I had a boyfriend in college who manipulated me into crossing my boundaries by making it seem like my choice. So insidious. But he was a great kisser. When I met my husband who turned out to be abusive, the kissing was not nearly as good, and has never been since. (I would never tell him that because comparing him to my previous boyfriend is a big sin in his eyes, and that means I would open myself up to verbal and emotional abuse.) But I just thought he was inexperienced, and I was willing to tolerate the bad kissing. Turns out, yes, the kissing was a sign of how our marriage was going to be. Not that he is sexually violent, but he is very selfish and it comes through in the bedroom too. Any improvement I want to make, he makes it out to be an attack against him, and leads to more abuse.

    • Anonymous

      Lynn- I’m in the same boat as you. Except I didn’t kiss before marriage, but there were plenty of red flags looking back. I’m not always sure if my husband is actually abusive. He seems to be trying. But all I know is I don’t enjoy kissing him very often and I don’t get turned on by him, and never really enjoyed sex.

      • Amy A

        Just a note; something I’ve learned from experience: Someone trying to treat you well who still consistently fails to improve is still an unhealthy person to be around. I have an ex boyfriend who sexually assaulted me many times by crossing touching boundaries, and he always felt horrible and vowed to improve. But the relationship was still incredibly toxic and traumatic. I wish I’d realized sooner that it was okay to leave. To think something like “I think maybe someday he will improve. But he is still abusing me, and that’s not something I have to put up with.”

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Great point! “He may end up being a great person for someone else years down the road after he’s done the work, but he’s not a great person for me now.”

        • Fun Wife

          Not sure if anyone reading this will find the story encouraging, so thought I’d share. My husband experienced trauma as a child and was hooked on porn by grade 4. His brain chemistry was wired around it and porn was how he learned to cope with stress. We met in 2005 through a Christian ministry and he was such a big personality that it was hard to see his insecurities. We dated for 3 months before I broke up with him because he was abusive, selfish, & jealous. I cared about him, but he was my first boyfriend & the Introduction to the world of the physical in dating was horrendous. He was pushy sexually & I left the relationship feeling tainted. But he was still a super fun and compassionate human with a lot of amazing qualities and I remember feeling jealous of whatever woman would get to marry him once he’d matured.

          My breaking up with him set off a chain reaction that caused him to confront some of his issues. He spent the next 7 years praying for me and dealing with his issues. He found new friends, gave his life to the Lord in a way he never had, found solid mentors, & took counselling. Years later, we connected and ended up doing some ministry together. He was a completely different person and said he’d never dated anyone else because he couldn’t get me out of his head, so he’d decided that he’d get healthy and pursue me again, but that I didn’t need to feel any pressure to say yes because he knew our past had been hard on me.

          We did end up dating again and pretty quickly getting married, since we’d met in our late teens and were in our late twenties at this point. But my dad said something that has really stuck with me. He told me to not look for someone perfect, but find someone who is willing to change. I found this advice to be super helpful and I’m so glad I married my husband. He still had a porn struggle when we got married, but he was very open and honest about it. Sure, it caused issues when stressful times triggered it, & sure it was complicated to figure out sex with my vaginismus struggles and his porn struggles. But man, in our 9 years of marriage, he’s been super open to counselling and change and gracious with me when I struggle. He’s been my best friend and #1 supporter, our sex life has become something really beautiful that I look forward to I think a lot more than many of the women I know. The things that come at us are faced together and because of humility we’ve been able to learn and grow together in the last 9 years of marriage & ministry & children. I’ve never once regretted marrying him.

          I do think that if I hadn’t had the courage to set boundaries and break up with this guy who was so fun and attractive, it would have been a disaster.

          I personally think that in dating, we need to set firm boundaries, but in a loving way, and that may mean leaving someone we really care about our even facing our own fears of being alone or feeling worthless. But we also need to recognize that no matter how flawed or abusive, God loves him and made him and wants his heart and is capable of posting his heart (which is sometimes better done when we get out of the way). We need to be humble and willing to do the hard things and expect to find a man who is the same. That way, if you marry one of the 100% of males that are flawed humans, & very likely was introduced to poor views, thoughts, & habits surrounding sex, you will both be capable of finding healing in the journey instead of the circle of hurt. Irregardless of his struggles or our kissing life, I found that just a week of dating him the first time around had his pride showing as quite obvious in many facets of his life. And just a week in to dating him the second time around, his respect for me & others, and his humility was equally obvious in how he treated his friends, bosses, family, strangers, etc. Hope this encorages a few people that God can work through hard things when we’re willing to let him.

          • Lisa Johns

            That’s an awesome story to have. Thanks for sharing.

      • Justine

        Me too… I feel that if I had been allowed to experiment a little more (not necessarily go all the way) with guys, and learned to value and take note of my visceral responses to people, my relationships and marriage would have turned out so differently. But I was young and naive and didn’t understand/ignored the signals I got. And I was taught to devalue physical affection because “spiritually is the antithesis of sex” so I looked for a partner who would satisfy me mentally and emotionally. So now I’m stuck in a bad sex marriage because I overlooked bad kissing. How I wish I had known!

    • Greetja

      I dated a couple of guys before meeting the man that I would marry. I kissed both, but the second had a lot more “experience” than I did and took it further than I was comfortable. It was like he was starving and I was the entree. No hands, just way too much mouth. I still cringe thinking about it.

      When I met the man I would marry (years later), I was afraid of that happening again, but he was the one who decided it would be best not to kiss before marriage — before we ever got to the point where a kiss would have been natural. I really respected that and was grateful.

      Sounds great, but in retrospect, it wasn’t perfect. Had I kissed him earlier, I think I might have realized that there was very little chemistry, and kissing him was a bit like kissing a fish. It was too late when I figured that out, since our first kiss was at the altar!

      That marriage unravelled as he became more and more abusively controlling, fuelled by an ultra-conservative church of a type we are familiar with on this blog. Little red flags I’d seen (that didn’t seem like a big deal) while dating suddenly bloomed into big ones.

      The lack of a kissing litmus test might have nothing to do with what followed, but I do wonder if I would have woken up to the red flags a lot earlier if I’d known that other things were out of sync, too.

    • Justine

      I wish I had known this litmus test when I was in college. The guy I married was a pushy kisser and constantly tried to test my boundaries (do you actually believe you will go to hell if you do anything before marriage? Are you really as religious as you say you are?). I was taken in by his other qualities and really had no idea about the importance of physical affection, having been taught to strictly keep any sexual feelings in check (yeah there’s not much pleasure in the physical part of our relationship but he checks every other box, and those things matter more because sex is for procreation only blah blah blah). Subsequently, sex was never good and a constant source of pain, stress and tension for me.
      The previous guy I dated asked me so sweetly if he could kiss me, and that for me was an instant turn on. Best kiss I ever had in my life, I can say confidently 25 years later! Sadly he was not what I wanted in a husband so I didn’t continue to see him but I suspect that his wife is very satisfied in bed. Only much later did I clue in that loving consent is the ticket to arousal for me. I want to be treated with respect, even reverence, such that my body is not just his to do whatever he wants with it, but as the home of a living being who wants active participation. I deeply desire an equal union. Maybe that goes against the male-ownership-of-woman’s-body model that the church espouses (did Jesus teach this? I can’t recall any such thing…), but aggression frankly does not lead to hot sex for me, just disconnection and disappointment.

  8. Suzanne

    “A marriage can still be strong, and a sex life can still be good, even if there’s not a lot of attraction.” Wow I can’t imagine this being true. Being married to and having sex with a person I am not attracted too sounds like torture.

    • Anonymous305

      There’s a difference between “not a lot of attraction” (but still some) and repulsion. Like how having sex when you’re not in the mood, but could get there is completely different from when “not on the mood” actually means dreading it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think attraction is important. But I have talked to people who don’t feel attracted anymore, but do genuinely love their spouse, and they work on giving each other pleasure. I don’t want people in these situations to feel like all hope is lost. But in general–don’t get married if you aren’t attracted to them!

      • Anonymous for this

        Reading this late, but this is something I’ve come up against. I was very attracted to my husband…..for several years of marriage, until he turned into my father’s over weight doppelganger! (Same general weight as my dad currently is, even though we’re still 30ish yrs younger, and a few inches shorter)
        When I bring it up, it’s dismissed and I don’t know how loudly and often I should say it. He likes to claim physical issues and say that change isn’t possible. It is, it’s just going to take some effort and physical discomfort. So currently, I’m glad we are in a sexless season! I’m not attracted to my father…..and that’s who I see when I see my husband and I find this disturbing…..he tries to claim it’s in my head and Im overthinking it. And Im afraid to talk about it,. because I don’t want anyone to think I’m attracted to my dad…I’m not that’s the problem!! It’s disturbing to me and I can’t think handle the topic in my brain very much. Suggestions? (I like sex and I don’t want to lose it! And we’re hopefully going to get back soon. But this is making me NOT want to at all ever.

    • Another Anon

      There are many married asexual people who just don’t experience sexual attraction, but are ok with sex for other reasons (to give pleasure to their partner, to have kids, etc.). Attraction isn’t a necessity or even a possibility for some people. But if being attracted to a partner is important for a person, it’s definitely best to know and talk about that beforehand.

    • Fun wife

      I’d much rather be married to someone with good character who treats me well, but is physically unattractive, or maybe even send a bit boring at times – I could totally imagine slowly growing to be very in love with and attracted to someone like that. I know several women who married very attractive and skilled men who were quite selfish and I think all the hurt over the years has killed the attraction.

  9. Boone

    Now, this is going back to the days of bell bottoms and white stacks. I asked two girls if I could kiss them (not at the same time). One told me that if I had to ask, NO!!! The other one told me to be a man and do it. I never asked again.
    Then I got the Harley. Things improved considerably.

    • Elise

      Maybe I’m unusual, but I 100% appreciated being asked before being kissed. That was a huge HUGE trust building thing my boyfriend (now my husband did). He asked before touching my shoulder, asked before holding hands, asked before kissing. I was super anxious about physical stuff, despite no history of abuse. Eventually I got comfortable enough he knew he didn’t have to ask anymore. When my husband and I were dating, I told him my boundaries at the very beginning and “no kissing until we both agree later.” Because I was so afraid being “surprised kissed.” I didn’t want him to wonder when he should to do it, or more too fast for my comfort level, leaving me to wonder and guess when he’d kiss me. For many, the spontaneous kissing is romantic, but for me, it was anxiety inducing. Then after a few months of dating, I told him I was ready. He respected all my boundaries, and him asking before kissing was HUGE and appreciated. It built so much trust. (For reference to anyone reading this, we saved sex for marriage, but kissed before engagement. It’s definitely possible to kiss before marriage and have it not lead to sex.)

  10. JC

    I definitely agree it can show how he’ll be before marriage. My first kiss with my husband was a sloppy awkward affair, and when he realized he had basically accidentally slobbered all over the lower half of my face (it was his first ever kiss, he’s got a big mouth and big lips and I have a small mouth and thin lips and, bless the boy, he didn’t know what the heck he was doing). Afterwards when he realized what he did he apologized profusely as he laughed at himself and found something to dry my face off with. The second attempt was substantially better.

    He’s proven over the years to try, not get flustered when he doesn’t do well at first and does better the next time.

    So yes, I think the kiss test is solid.

  11. Anon

    I totally love the idea of kissing being a litmus test for how a guy will be during sex – it’s further proof that kissing before marriage is not inherently sinful.

    I do want to bring up a couple of points about the lyrics to “Kiss the Girl” being changed. If you watch the original 1989 film carefully, Eric is actually treating Ariel with great respect. The whole time they’re together prior to the song, he’s gentle with her, especially on their cart ride. She gets a little too eager with the reins and he could easily have yanked control back from her, but he didn’t. And after Ariel got them over the gap in the road, Eric kicked back and let her drive.

    Now for the song itself. Eric is actually not pressuring Ariel into a kiss – quite the opposite! He’s sitting a distance from her in the boat, and Ariel is actually making eyes at him and even puckers up at one point, but he pulls back and doesn’t kiss her. The whole song is trying to get him to give her a kiss – which Ariel wants very much! She just can’t say that she wants one.

    And a note on the lyric change in the remake: they also made Ariel basically an amnesiac following the transformation and forgetting that she needs a kiss of true love to stay human, which totally nullifies the original intent. In the original film, she knew she had to get a kiss to remain a human and wanted Eric to kiss her; she just couldn’t say so because her voice was gone.

  12. Lynn

    I have mixed feelings on this test. I hear all the positives and think they make a lot of sense. I think they outweigh the reasons to wait. I think it’s important to specifically pair this test with plans and boundaries about when to start kissing. Not just kiss anyone whenever. Telling someone you have boundaries and want to wait can also be a litmus. Do they push you to break them? Are they impatient or annoyed by them? Speaking from my own experience, which includes trauma of sexual and physical abuse and growing up without a father, as a teen and young adult I was ready for love. But I didn’t know what love was. Even though I wanted to follow scriptural teaching and wait to have sex until marriage I gave in with more than one person. I don’t even recall it being because they pressured me or if kissing lead from one thing to another. I think this article and this test are great when I reflect on my own history. I want to use it to have discussions with my teenage son who has had exposure to pornography, and use it with my daughters when the time is right for them.

  13. Abby

    When I was 13 I was coerced into a purity pledge by my parents that included no kissing until marriage.

    When my husband and I were approaching marriage and had been engaged for 4 months, we decided together that we wanted to start kissing about a month before the wedding so that we would feel comfortable on the wedding day kissing in front of people and to help our transition into intimacy.

    I am so glad we did!! Our first kiss was special but also awkward and if that had been on my wedding day I’m sure it would have made me freaked out about sex. Instead we got to build up our attraction (and kissing definitely got better) before we got to that point.

    But of course when I mentioned to my mom that we had kissed she reacted as if I had just told her that I got pregnant out of wedlock and obsessed over how I had “broken my promise” 🙄

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It sounds like you made a very wise choice! I’m sorry about your mom’s reaction. The funny thing is she likely kissed before marriage, right?

    • Elle I

      Your story makes me laugh because I too accepted a promise ring from my dad, but to my knowledge it meant I was saving sex for marriage. Well apparently I got the terms and conditions wrong and promptly got kicked out of the house after kissing my boyfriend (now husband) in the front yard. No hands, no making out, just a good night kiss. My dad lost it (apparently he had been spying on us) and asked me for my promise ring when when I can back inside. I took it off and flung it at him screaming he could have it back! 😂😂

  14. Eve

    As a teenager growing up in the UK in the late 90s I was taught in my church youth group that kissing before marriage is not advisable, because it leads to “arousal” and often the idea of “soul ties” would be thrown in. My pastor even taught that a couple should not pray together before marriage, because it would form a bond that should be saved for marriage!! So the soul tie thing was a very real fear I grew up with! Couples who didn’t kiss before marriage were praised publicly. I remember being at a big youth camp meeting with several hundred teenagers and a worship leader was applauded in front of everyone for waiting until his wedding day for his first kiss.

    Hearing this teaching on kissing before marriage from you now is something completely new that I’ve never ever heard in my Christian life in any church or youth meeting. As an older single woman it is freeing to think that if I do enter a relationship with a Christian man in the future I can be free of some of the harmful baggage of my upbringing within a context of purity culture (by the way, my church was not a conservative evangelical church but part of a charismatic stream which nevertheless was very influenced by Joshua Harris and other similar teachings at the time). So thank you!

  15. Elise

    My husband and I saved sex for marriage, and enjoyed kissing before engagement without it leading to pushing boundaries. I replied to another comment, but want to add more of our story here – I was VERY anxious about physical stuff (even holding hands). I have no history of abuse, but I married my first boyfriend, and I took it so seriously. Because he was my first time for ANYTHING (first time holding hands, first time meeting boyfriend’s parents, first time having a boyfriend) I was extra anxious. One thing that I’m so blessed that he did was ask me before touching me. He’d ask before holding hands, ask before putting an arm on my shoulder, and in the future when I told him I was ready, he asked before kissing me. I had a panic attack after our first kiss, and he responded by loving me and telling me it was okay. He didn’t pressure me for anything, was very in sync and attentive to me, pulled back when I did, and was perfectly okay and calm with me panic response. I remember thinking in the moment “This is how I wanted to be treated on the wedding night having sex.” And then…a year and a half later I married him. My anxiety faded quickly throughout dating. His foundation of respect with everything, but especially respecting my physical boundaries, gave me SO much trust in him. We’re about to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, and he’s been the most amazing, most supportive, Christ-like, selfless, fair, respectful husband in the world.

    • Ellie

      How did you both meet, if you don’t mind me asking 🤣? As a young adult, it’s extremely hard to find a Christian guy who has all those traits. It’s sad, but true :(.

  16. Emily

    We waited to kiss till marriage. I’m glad we did and I do think it is best. I think there are other ways you can learn enough about someone. For one thing ( although our sex life and kissing is good) I am glad I do not have any comparrison. Also even though I do like kissing my husband the thought of kissing someone who has kissed a lot of other people is disgusting to me. I have other thought, but no time to write them. In short I have and still do encourage everyone to wait for marriage to kiss.

    • Lucie09

      Emily, I’m not sure if you or any of the commenters against kissing before marriage will read this, but I just feel compelled to say something here. The arguments purity culture advocated for saving your first kiss for marriage all assumed that everyone who wanted to be married would get married. Probably by the time you were in your mid 20s, but certainly no later than 30. What about those of us who didn’t? I’ve read very sad stories on other places about women who reached their 50s and 60s single, and without dating or kissing anyone. Purity culture praises people who ‘stay pure’, and seems fixated on virginity, especially girls virginity, but this outcome can’t be what they intended. I feel deeply for those women, because I could have been one of them. My first kiss was at the age of 34, the second time was after my 40th birthday (and by that time I had given up on meeting any one). I’ll wager that the people who preach on the dangers of kissing before marriage will have never gone through the low self esteem, the feeling that you are something of a freak, the feeling that you don’t measure up to other people, the fear that you are unattractive and undesirable, the depression and deep sadness that plagues you over and over again. I would be willing to bet that if they had ended up single into their 30s and beyond, they would perhaps be saying something a bit different.
      Did I kiss before marriage? Yes. Did I get married? No. Do I regret kissing before marriage? No. For Christians who want to do this, then that’s fine – as long as it’s their choice and not something that has been chosen for them. But they need to keep in mind that just because they felt convicted to do this and it worked well for them, that it will be possible or good, or realistic for everyone else, because it won’t be. Not every person’s life is going to follow the same path. They need to understand that people who choose different from them aren’t bad, second class Christians who mean harm. So you waited until marriage to kiss! I’m happy it meant so much to you and it was the best thing for you! But if I had decided to wait until marriage, then I would still be waiting at the age of 40.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s an excellent point, Lucie!

  17. MA

    I appreciate your statement that people certainly can still choose to not kiss before marriage…there is something to be said for that kind of self-control these days!
    But I’m also surprised nothing was shared about the actual physical things that happen during kissing – just lip on lip releases the “pleasure” chemical, creating an emotional bond – especially for a female – that may draw her into more commitment than he intends…got that from a secular source which was interesting!
    But I’m curious what you would say to the thought that not kissing leads a couple to struggle with not kissing….kissing leads to the struggle not to do more inappropriate things – maybe sex…I mean kissing IS part of foreplay – it’s supposed to get the engines going! I have many friends who kissed and went too far and had deep regret. Have a handful of friends who did not kiss until marriage and have no regret. Gosh it’s a tough one – I guess it’s just complicated!!!

    • Jenn

      I have friends who waited to kiss, and they regret it. They said it made for a very awkward wedding night. She told me “going from 0 to 60 was really rough.”

  18. SB

    It was only in the last couple years as I learned about sexual coercion that I realized that even our first kiss was coerced. I wish I had been able to see it as a red flag back then and spared myself the heartache of a porn-filled, sexually coercive marriage!

    I saved everything for him, so our first kiss was MY first kiss (though not his). We waited until six weeks before our wedding, at his request–he didn’t want to be tempted to have sex prematurely (his fear, not mine; I was never worried that *I* would push that boundary, but I respected his request).

    Our friends got married six weeks ahead of us, and after the wedding, my then-fiance tried to kiss me. I dodged. I wasn’t even sure why in the moment; I just instinctively felt that it wasn’t the right moment. He tried again, without asking me why or if I wanted to kiss. I dodged again. Then his ride to the house he was staying at was leaving, and he left extremely upset with me.

    We texted back and forth in a flurry, me processing and articulating that I had dodged because I wanted our first kiss to be about *us* and not on the heels of an emotional high centered on someone else’s relationship; and him pointing out it was ridiculous that I didn’t want to kiss him six weeks out from when we expected to start having sex. I hurt his feelings and he felt rejected and my feelings made no sense to him, and he was so upset with me.

    Ultimately I backed down and abandoned my feelings, because I felt like he *must* be right if I could understand his perspective but he couldn’t understand mine–mine must just be wrong. I had to fix it. I had to make it right. So I drove to the house he was staying at and picked him up and we parked in a middle school parking lot in the dark and made out.

    I used to think it was a cute story. It was funny because it was so awkward. But now, recognizing that *my feelings were valid too* and that this was just the beginning of what became a pattern of his feelings and expectations *always* being treated as more valid than mine…that first kiss was coercive. It wasn’t how I wanted *my* first kiss between us to be. But that didn’t matter to him AT ALL. And instead of respecting my feelings and giving me reassurance that I mattered to him, I had to reassure *him* by giving in.

    I recognize now that that first kiss was absolutely indicative of how our physical relationship was always going to be. I wish I had been able to see it that way then. I wish I had realized that I had the right to stand up for myself, and I wish that I had realized that I was signing up for a marriage with him where I had to fight to be heard and be treated as equally valid, and that that is not the kind of marriage that I wanted.

    I have often wondered if, if I had dated more and kissed more guys before him, would I have seen the red flags in his behavior? Waiting and saving *everything* for just him gave me no opportunity to ever experience normal and healthy. If I could do it over, I would absolutely do it differently.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, SB, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve been through.

  19. Joel

    Thanks Sheila, I’ve never heard it like this before. I’m wondering what age should someone be allowed to date and start kissing?

    Is it okay to kiss when you’re in middle school even when you know you’re probably no gonna marry them, when I’m doing it just because I want to kiss? Or should we start kissing in a later stage of dating?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Multiple studies have found that there are no upsides to early dating, as we discuss in She Deserves Better. Having rules about older dating seems appropriate because age appropriateness is important. I think that’s up to every parent, though.

      • Joel

        Okay, I have to read SDB soon!
        Should we continue to make out even after we discover we both right for each other?
        Also, if actually kissing a girlfriend is okay, how can it be wrong if we fantasize about them? Thanks Sheila!

  20. NM

    This is a really interesting discussion. I was raised Christian but not fundamentalist. I knew I wanted to save sex for marriage, but in high school I dated, and my first kiss was with my first boyfriend on a youth group trip when I was 15. I kissed several boys in high school, including some that I wasn’t dating, it was just fun at a high school dance. I liked kissing, and looking back it was probably a way of feeling grown up and yes, learning about consent. I could decide who was allowed to touch me and that felt good. It never went too far. There was one boy I kissed at his house and gave me major creepy vibes. I left and he was upset and didn’t talk to me again. I later heard from others that we was sexually coercive, so it was good to have my intuition validated. Around that time my mom sort of freaked out that I liked kissing boys, so she gave me copies of “Passion and Purity” and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” That was my introduction to the more fundamentalist teachings that led to Love and Respect later on and lots of fear-based, unhealthy teaching that I accepted because it came from my mom who I trusted. Years later I found out she hadn’t actually read the books and she was horrified at what I’d absorbed. I didn’t feel bad about kissing boys until I read those books, but then there was lots of guilt.


    When I met my now-husband he was really great about communicating. “I’d like to get to know you better. Would you like that?” was our first relationship convo. He asked if he could kiss me when we’d been dating about a month (and I was very attracted to him). At first I said no and he was fine with that. We went for a walk instead. Apparently his respect was a turn-on because I asked if he still wanted to kiss me about an hour later. It was really sweet.

    One thing I learned from kissing other boys is that chemistry is definitely a thing. Kissing some was thrilling, and others were just ok. I had never felt so physically drawn to someone as my husband. Like, holy cow I could barely keep my hands off him. And that has helped during the rough patches!

    We did save sex for our wedding night, but we went pretty far when we were engaged. At the time we felt tremendous guilt about it because we were so steeped in purity culture but looking back after 20 years…I don’t know. I wish we could have enjoyed our building intimacy without the shame. We had been together 2 years when we got married, and there was a lot of intense stuff going on in our lives that brought us really close. Because we were so comfortable with each other before the wedding, our wedding night was absolutely lovely. No anxiety at all.

    Forgive my long story. I’m not saying you need to kiss a lot of other people or go farther before your wedding. I think we all need to follow our convictions before God. But I think guilt from outward pressure should have no place in a loving relationship. I also think “soul ties” from kissing before you meet your spouse is hogwash. Now that I’m over purity culture guilt, I can look back fondly at that time and see I was just learning and enjoying growing up. It definitely hasn’t hurt my marriage.

  21. Lindsey

    I was raised during the time of the purity culture and I have never personally heard a pastor speak on these topics in the ways you have said. Is the toxic teaching on these topics in your estimation coming from pastors who are misrepresenting or incorrectly interpreting the Bible, or not sticking with what the Bible says? Is your objective to get back to what God says about these topics and not man?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great that you avoided it! In our survey of 7000 primarily evangelical women, about 70% of women reported believing the toxic teachings, which aren’t of Jesus. My goal, as always, is to get people back to Jesus.

      • Lindsey

        Wow, and what a time we are living in where people are putting their own thoughts and feelings out there as gospel so I can see the reality of those statistics. And what a great reminder for us as Christians to know God’s word so we can tell the difference. So with this post specifically how would you say you are getting people back to Jesus?

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Jesus wants health and wholeness. Purity culture wrecked that for a whole generation of women, as we have definitively shown. Jesus said you can judge things by their fruit. So we’re showing you the route to a good marriage.

          And we’re teaching women to understand red flags in dating, which avoids bad marriages. And Jesus wants us to avoid bad marriages.

          Honestly, it looks like you’re just trying to say that all of our talk about healthy relationships isn’t of Christ. If that’s your aim, I’d prefer that you leave. These aren’t honest questions. And given how very many people have been so hurt by modern evangelical teaching, that looks nothing like Christ–it’s not okay to pretend people’s pain doesn’t matter.

          • Lindsey

            I’m sorry, let me try saying it differently. I think we agree that pointing people back to Jesus is a good thing. I want the teachings I take in to be rooted in scripture. Just a suggestion, I think it would be more helpful for me and maybe others, if you used scripture in your posts to help me understand how you use scripture to form your thoughts that you share.

          • Lindsey

            I’d also like to note that I expected that you would welcome my question considering you just wrote about what a good teacher does regarding pastors and authors from your recent blog post about accountability. Instead you attacked my question and asked me to leave. This plays into my asking for clarification. I see and hear you saying you’re on mission for certain things but there’s a lack of evidence to support it. I’m simply trying to understand how your teaching does get us back to Jesus. I’d love to chat more about this over email or phone if you’re willing.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            There’s a lack of evidence to support what? There’s tons of evidence that our books are helping people.

            Here’s the problem, Lindsey. Many of the toxic teachings that are in church have been propagated by churches that believe that Christianity has to be portrayed a certain way. We must all look like we have it all together. We must use the Bible to prove everything. We can’t know anything without quoting a Bible verse (that’s an exaggeration I know, but that seems to be the gist of it).

            What we are showing is that Jesus is the Word; we interpret Scripture through the person of Christ. Quoting Bible verses out of context does not usually bring people closer to Christ. Studying HIs character, and promoting things that bear the fruit of the Spirit, does.

            And so that’s what we’ve been doing for a few years.

            And quite often, people get upset at us for that because since we’re not constantly using Bible verses, we must be pushing people away from Jesus. But actually the opposite is true. There is a flood of people leaving the type of churches that proof text everything and yet look nothing like Jesus. And I am very, very concerned for those people. I want them to know that just because they have to leave their churches does not mean they need to leave Jesus, because likely Jesus was never in that church at all.

            That is what is bringing healing.

            Also, I don’t do personal phone calls. I don’t have the time. You are welcome to discuss on social media or here! But please don’t accuse me or my followers of not being Christian, because that is so, so triggering to those who are barely hanging on to the faith, and are here because they want to have hope that Jesus is real.

        • Jennifer Nelson

          Sheila says, “Quoting Bible verses out of context does not usually bring people closer to Christ,” and I couldn’t agree more! The Bible has been skewed and twisted. The affects are incredibly detrimental. We don’t need “scripture verses” in order to point people to God. If that’s the case, how did people follow God’s ways before the canon was written?

          • Lindsey

            First, I’ll say I never accused you or your followers of not being Christian. My question was directed at you only because you state that you give biblical advice and I wasn’t reading anything that gave biblical advice. I see that as a fair question to ask. How do you give biblical advice without using the Bible?

            Perhaps it will be helpful for me in understanding more of your view, so I’d like to ask a couple questions. This may seem petty but this is foundational. Do you believe that God’s word is the ultimate authority and do you believe that it is sufficient or do we need to look elsewhere for some things?

            How are you showing that Jesus is the Word? I can appreciate not quoting Bible verses out of context but where are you using scripture at all? How do we study the character of God without looking at His word? How do we study the fruits of the spirit without studying God’s Word?

            And there are lots of people leaving the church, mostly young people, so I agree. The reason for that when they studied this was that these young people were describing a God that was not the God of the Bible. We can’t know the God of the Bible without reading and studying the Bible. I’m sure you would agree with that. But there are also loads and loads of churches who do it right. They proof text and live like Jesus. I have actually never attended or visited a church that did otherwise. It is sad that some women have experienced differently. But I am concerned that they might cling to your words and not God’s words if you aren’t actually sharing God’s words.

            This post for instance, why don’t we look at a litmus test for marriage by talking about what to look for in a man, such as godly character, instead of a kiss? Or look at sacrifice (Jesus being the perfect example, laying down his life for his bride) and that being something to look for in a husband. That also being a quality the woman should possess as well. There’s so many other things I could think of…a man who abides in Christ and studies his word? All the physical stuff like kissing is fleeting so I can think of more biblical, trustworthy things to go off of.

          • Lindsey

            I totally agree that people take it out of context but then so do we throw it all out altogether because of that? The way people followed God’s ways was word of mouth and written word. But also, if we want to mature in our walk how do we do that without the Bible?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            No one is saying we get rid of the Bible, Lindsey. Nothing that we are doing here is getting rid of the Bible.

          • Phil

            Lindsey – the bible exists ONLY because of Jesus. I dont know about you but when I read the bible I read as WWJD? Here is some scripture for you from John 5 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” That being said I will be testimony that Jesus is present here. We get plenty of scripture around here. We also get plenty of science and data that backs up facts about the human response cycle to HARM. We also have fun. So let me see. What evidence do we have here that would satisfy you? Lets see there is Hope. Sheila offers that to women who have been harmed. Hmm there is Peace (when we dont have commenters upsetting things) there is joy! Yes when people find help or are validated when they realized they have been harmed. There is kindness – Sheila has always been kind to me. She has helped me a lot. Lindsey. In all fairness. What have you offered us by running after Sheila? Where is Jesus in your message? As a matter of fact. You didn’t even offer any scripture. Whats up with that?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thanks Phil!

        • Jenn

          Lindsey, while Sheila doesn’t quote scripture in this post, she does in plenty of others, and in her books.

          You ask “Do you believe that God’s word is the ultimate authority and do you believe that it is sufficient or do we need to look elsewhere for some things?”

          I suspect this question is a bit of a trap. We all know there is no verse that says you can or cannot kiss before marriage. So Sheila is suggesting a theory based on observations she’s made. If Sheila says she looks to research about relationships you will say “see! You aren’t a true Christian because you think you need to look beyond the Bible!” But that’s ridiculous. Jesus told us we need to look at the fruit of teachings. That means looking at research about the outcomes. You yourself mention research about young people leaving the church (could you cite the actual research that found what you described?), which shows you aren’t holding yourself to a standard of not looking “elsewhere for things.”

          • Lindsey

            I genuinely believed my questions would be welcome here. Sheila had just recently posted about holding pastors/teachers/authors accountable and accepting questioning, not doubling down or attacking those who ask these, and that being a sign of a good author. As a Christ follower, I want to test everything to God’s Word. I want to be diligent and careful with what I take in. I think we are seeing 2 Timothy 4:3 play out in that people are turning away from listening to the truth. I would say personally the easier route would be to take someone’s word for something versus doing the digging for the treasure we will find in God’s Word, but God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Phil, your response is an example of a concern I addressed earlier. You are singing the praises of a human being, saying Sheila offers peace and joy, etc. As humans we are all fallen, sinful, prone to error. Are we clinging to human words/thoughts or God’s Word? That is where this whole conversation started for me. I wanted to find out where and how much the Bible influenced what Sheila was teaching. I don’t think it’s wrong to go digging for things to simply see if they align with God’s Word. I want my hope and my peace to come from Jesus. Ultimately he is the only one who won’t let us down, and His word will stand the test of time (Matthew 24:35).

  22. Heather

    I agree completely with Lindsey.
    One cannot point others back to Jesus without using His Word.
    And from what I see His Word calls us to diligently pursue purity and Holiness “Be Holy for I the Lord your God am Holy” 1 Peter 1:15-16

    1 Corinthians 6:18 says to “Flee fornication. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually sins against his own body”

    Then in verse 19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
    Theses are just a few among many verses advocating purity.

    While you are warning of the dangers of the “Purity Culture”, God’s Word is warning of the opposite.
    Seeking purity is more important than ever in our current sexually depraved culture climate.
    I believe one must be very careful that we don’t cause others to stumble in this area. We will all stand before the Lord one day to give account of our lives. I dare say no one would regret being diligent in protecting their purity or encouraging others to do the same.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You may want to read Romans 1. Jesus is the Truth. Even creation speaks about God.

      You have no idea how many messages I get everyday from people saying, “Thank you so much! I’ve been so hurt I’ve wanted to leave the church, but hearing about Jesus the way you talk about Him makes me cling to faith.”

      A whole generation is leaving the church. Pretending that’s not true isn’t going to solve the problem.

      Luke 12:2-3: “2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

      Quite frankly, on the week that Shiny Happy People has been released, the answer should be to deal with our crap. That’s our witness to the world: When they see us dealing with our stuff instead of trying to paint a pretty picture over the bad stuff.

      The world sees the bad stuff. We’re not causing them to stumble by talking about it. We’re teaching them they can trust us and that God wasn’t behind it in the first place.

    • Jennifer Nelson

      Purity, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is freedom from adulteration and contamination. As demonstrated through the evangelical church and various Christian movements, the Bible has been adulterated and contaminated by controlling, influential people in order to abuse, subjugate and remain in a power-over dynamic. Jesus came to set us FREE! He came to give us abundant life! The Bible is full of wonderful stories and wisdom, but when it is taken out of context for evil purposes, THAT is impure. Scripture quoted by legalistic people doesn’t point people to the Truth. It points people to a a harmful, hustle mentality. God is big enough in and of himself to guide us. God can defend himself; doesn’t need defending any more than a lion needs defending.

    • Ferris Bueller

      Purity culture and purity as defined in the Bible are vastly different things. If you take the time to read more things than one random article, you would see how she defines purity and uses the Bible.

      Just because she gives advice on something doesn’t mean she’s treating it as gospel; she in fact calls that out, just like she calls out proof texting.

      But maybe she could have included a verse from Song of Solomon about “kiss me with the kisses of your mouth”, shockingly enough, before they were married.

      But what you are doing here, Lindsey, feels a lot like sea lioning.

      • Lindsey

        Sheila, sadly, you just keep going around and around, and aren’t actually answering any of my questions. I just wanted to know after reading posts and listening to several podcasts where the ‘biblical advice’ was because I wasn’t reading or hearing it. As someone who was looking at your new book I needed to know for myself if the content was relying more heavily on the Bible or worldly thoughts and perspectives. I think I got that answer though. Thank you for your time.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I find it interesting that you would consider evidence “worldly” and contrast that with the Bible. It shows a misunderstanding of the person of Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is Truth. So when we find Truth, it does not contradict Jesus, or it is not in opposition, as you seem to be putting them on two different extremes. Rather, truth helps us see more clearly Christ.

          When we find that certain teachings common in churches hurt people, then we know, “this is not of Christ.” That’s actually what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 7–to judge by the fruit.

          We are not told to disengage our brains and just proof text; we are told to seek truth, which is what Jesus meant by judging by the fruit. I’m sorry you think those are opposite things.

    • M

      Heather and Lindsey, you seem to be missing a whole lot here, and frankly do not seem to be very familiar with the work or research that Sheila and her team have done, or most importantly, the good FRUIT of it. It is removing so much harmful crap that has been added to Jesus, allowing people to see JESUS, saving the faith of more people than you can imagine! I would suggest actually reading their books, to start, with objectivity, rather than projecting what you think they mean. You do seem to be especially confused about the meaning of “purity.”
      The post is about kissing (perhaps read some comments as well). Even the verses you cite do not offer anything toward a simple discussion on kissing, unless you project your OWN meaning onto the text. Is this is what you mean by “using His word”? To quote a Bible verse and then tell people all of the implications that you project from it? If it is clear to you from these verses that kissing without a marriage certificate is wrong, that is what you are doing? If we’re pointing to Bible verses and extrapolating what we want, why not something more relevant, such as 1 Thes 5:26,
      “Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss,”
      or any of the other verses saying the same thing?

    • Phil

      Heather one can not point people to Jesus with out employing his principles. I dont think Jesus was focused on sex. Seems your comment is surrounded in purity culture as if this was God’s fundamental primary message to humans. So is my life based on my sex life? Is that it? Please tell me. How does your message point me to Jesus?

    • Jenn

      What is fornication? What is sexual purity?

      We tend to use circular reasoning in this area. The Bible is not actually very specific. Was Esther sexually impure because she participated in King Xerxes “try out all the virgins” program?

      • Christina

        Which Bible verse bans kissing? Hint: none of them. In fact, there are multiple commands to give each other a holy kiss. This means that kissing can definitely be holy. A plain reading of the Bible says that kissing is holy. The Bible says it, so why are you fighting the Bible and God’s commandments?!?!?!

  23. Stefanie

    Heather and Lindsey,
    Sheila points us to Jesus because she points us to health and life. John 10:10 She quotes plenty of scripture if you are a regular reader of her work. And btw, slapping scriptures on something doesn’t by default make it Christlike. There are a lot of us who followed all of the Evangelical church rules, expecting to sow life (Gal 6:7-9; Matt 7:14), and got badly burned.
    Lindsey, you said Sheila should tell us how to find a man with godly character. That’s exactly what she’s doing in this post. A man can quote the Bible from beginning to end, but if he’s a selfish kisser, he’s probably also a selfish lover. So kissing him would give you evidence that he’s selfless and humble, or not. There’s a 47 point orgasm gap in the church. That’s an awful lot of men who can quote scripture but not be a good husband. Jesus desires that sex is mutual, not one sided.

  24. Ella

    Thank you for this article! I did kiss my husband before marriage – but our first kiss was awkward. I immediately felt guilty, and I honestly didn’t think he was a good kisser… We waited to have sex until we were married, and again, it was awkward. It also hurt SO much. I just feel like I should have paid attention to that awkward kiss and realized there was no physical chemistry between us. I really do love him though- he’s honest, loyal, hard working and a great dad to our kids. There is just zero romance, passion and chemistry between us. 10 years later and I still try to avoid having sex with him. I also wish I was more attracted to him as well. He was so cute when we were dating. 🙁 I just wish he took care of himself A LOT more. 🙁

    I am so grateful for this website! I feel like I’m not alone. I really want to fix my marriage and have great passionate sex like I did before I became a Christian. 🙁


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