“So,” My acquaintance leaned in eagerly. “Have you kissed him yet?”
I adjusted my feet and cleared my throat. “Um, no. We’re not… doing that right now. We’re saving our first kiss for our wedding day.” It came out through gritted teeth. I didn’t want to say it. Not because I was embarrassed of it – I wasn’t. I just knew what the reaction would be.
I could see the visions passing before her eyes as her countenance changed in front of me. I knew what she was picturing: ankle length skirts, long sleeved wedding dresses, some ‘Virgin Diaries’ awkwardness that was so not me. I wanted to say, “I’m waiting – BUT I’m not who you think I am!”
My husband (‘Mr. M’) and I waited until our wedding day to kiss each other (the picture to the left is of us). Even among Christians there was a reaction of ‘I could never!’ or ‘Why would you do that?’ that was at best uncomfortable, and at worst, demeaning. The simple statement, “We’re waiting” seemed to throw us into a stereotype that I wasn’t happy to be pigeonholed within.
I chose to save my kiss for my wedding day when I was 18. But I didn’t do it because Josh Harris said so, my parents said so, or my church said so. In fact, I didn’t even choose it for spiritual reasons, at first: I simply wanted my first kiss to be as special as possible, and my wedding day seemed to fit that bill. Once I started dating, I realized my threshold for physical temptation was very low, so reserving my kiss allowed me to check my desires but also to test the motives of men who asked me out. If a man wasn’t interested in dating me after I said I wasn’t ready to kiss him, I knew he didn’t appreciate me for the right reasons, and moved on.
By the time I met my husband, however, I had been through a relationship where I’d been pressured to give of myself physically to ‘keep’ the guy I was dating. When Mr. M and I started going out, we had both kissed other people. Our relationship was a new beginning, and though we struggled at times, failed in many ways, and stumbled back to the throne of grace, our first kiss was on our wedding day – and we’re really happy it was.
We are a normal couple. We work full time jobs, wear normal clothes, have great friends, and live blessed lives. We’re not Doomsday Preppers, Quiverfull homeschoolers, or any extremist division of Christianity. But we believe that Grace necessitates a holy reaction, and saving our kiss was our way of trying to keep holiness at the center of our relationship.
The problem arises when people make saving a kiss the Holy Grail of relationships. I’ve seen it – I’ve received it in emails: “I’m a Christian and I’m saving my kiss for marriage.” As if the two go hand-in-hand.
Saving your kiss doesn’t save your soul. When girls tell me, “I’m saving my kiss” I don’t stand up and applaud. I ask them a pointed question: “Why?” How a girl answers that question determines whether I will support her decision.
Why are you saving your kiss? Is it because you read it in a book, heard it from your parents, or think it will make you look better? Those reasons have no merit in God’s eyes. Decisions of that kind should be rooted in gratitude for grace – a desire to be holy – and nothing else.
Conversely, kissing every guy you date doesn’t make you ‘experienced’ or somehow better than those who wait. The same arrogance that tempts those who wait tempts those who don’t. An ability to plant lips on every man who asks you out doesn’t showcase discretion or patience, nor is it necessary to quality relationship.
I’ve been on both sides of this issue and it’s time for a middle road. I believe this is an issue of balance: that saving your kiss is an individual decision each couple has to make. That said, today I’m going to dispel five myths about saving your kiss for the wedding day, because they’re false, and they need to go away.
1. It’s going to be awkward at the altar.
Many people seem terrified of kissing their partner on a stage in front of their friends and family. Perhaps they have visions of those YouTube first-kiss couples who only make YouTube because they’re just that bad. That’s not normal. If you’ve watched Gone With the Wind once, you can pull off a decent kiss on a stage.
There will always be nerves at a wedding, but if you really know and love the people you invited, there’s nothing to be afraid of. You aren’t up there to impress people. You’re up there to be a testimony to God’s love, Jesus’ grace, and the unending covenant of marriage – which, by the way, is based on sacrifice. Saving your kiss is a sacrifice. Like I mentioned in my own story, we don’t save kisses because a church told us to do so. Only choose to do it out of a desire to maintain holiness in your relationship.
If that was your motive, there is no such thing as ‘awkward’. And if you are still terrified, talk about it with your fiance.
2. It’s going to be awkward in the bedroom.
Um, false. I’d like to find the person who started this rumor and shake him.
I have met couples who made kissing a regular part of their relationship, but their wedding night was as awkward as all get out. Kissing makes no difference in how your wedding night goes: if you’re an awkward person, you’re going to be awkward no matter what.
Saving our kiss made our wedding night more exciting. The fact that everything was brand new was – pardon my frivolity – like being kids in a candy store. We had the whole shebang available to us!
Our kiss is still special to us. Not that other people lose that ‘specialness’ – but I appreciate every time I get to kiss my husband because I waited 1.5 years just to have that privilege. Just because our culture and church says it’s ‘normal’ and makes it run-of-the-mill doesn’t mean I had to buy into that ideology, and I didn’t, and I’m glad of it. Kisses should be special. Just like sex should be special.
It’s not ‘0 to 60’ to kiss on your wedding day and sleep together that night. Our culture tells us we need an on-ramp to intimacy: as if we have to kiss for ten months, make out a few times and dance around the edge of immorality to really ‘prepare’ for sex on our wedding night. That’s a lie. If you love each other, your wedding night does not have to be awkward. It will be as good as you allow it to be.
And this is from the girl who had purple spots all over the bed on her wedding night, so if you have questions, you can always email me.
3. You might end up married to a bad kisser.
This is by far the most ridiculous objection I received when we were dating. Would you really turn down a godly, strong, sweet man who loves you because he’s a ‘bad kisser’? Is it impossible to learn to be a better kisser?
There are days, if you asked Mr. M, he could tell you my breath was bad or my kiss wasn’t a perfect 10. But this isn’t about performance. This is about commitment.
When you choose to tie yourself to a man for life, you’ve got 50 years to learn how to kiss. And chances are you’ll have him straightened out in less than a month, anyway. All physical intimacy takes communication, like anything else.
You can teach a man or woman to kiss better. It’s much more difficult to win a soul to Christ, to encourage a man to be a leader, or encourage a woman to be less insecure. ‘Good kisser’ should be the last thing on your list of qualifications for a spouse.
4. “I could never do it.”
Why is it so hard to say no? Is it about appearances, personal desires, an addiction to kissing?
I’m playing the devil’s advocate here. If you claim, “I could never do it” ask yourself a real, genuine, “Why?” I’m not saying we all need to be cookie cutter on this issue, but it merits a discussion.
I’m concerned about this excuse because I’ve sat down with girls who are emotional wrecks following superficial relationships with loser guys. Every time, the kiss that ‘means nothing’ meant more than they anticipated. They are left wondering why he didn’t care, why he didn’t invest, why he dumped them – because, after all, ‘we kissed and it was great!’
This is a narrow line to walk. We can demean kissing; make it mean less so we can do it more. Or we can elevate its value and recognize it for the emotional-physical entity that it is. In choosing the second path, we will miss out on the temporary thrill of that first kiss with every guy we date; but we gain collateral. We gain power.
I wielded my kiss as a prize to be won. Sure, I would have liked to kiss somebody. I had the desire – don’t doubt me! But I also wanted a man to know I wasn’t playing around. He was going to earn my affection, because I knew that a lasting love necessitates that kind of perseverance. I wanted to be pursued, and saving my kiss maintained that mystery.
There are exceptions to this rule. But don’t say, “I could never do it” – because you can, if it’s worth it to you. If it’s an issue of holiness- you can do it. If you’re tired of being used by losers – you can do it. If you want to truly be pursued for who you are – you can do it. You don’t have to, but you can.
5. Saving your kiss is too extreme.
Back to the issue of balance: we have people on both sides of this fence. In this culture, waiting to kiss someone till your wedding day (or gosh, even after dating a few months) is borderline insane. And in Christian circles, the arrogance of the relationally-elite have turned many away in embarrassment from this ‘Holy Grail’ of saving a kiss. I know how it feels to be condescended to and I know how it feels to be laughed at. That’s why our motive in this choice is absolutely pivotal.
Our faith is not meant to be overshadowed by cultural trends. If you are struggling with purity, or struggling with being pursued by quality guys, or struggling with identity – then perhaps it’s time to consider how much of yourself you’ve been giving away. If saving your kiss is an effort toward holiness, it is not ‘too extreme’, because we are to be holy as our God and Savior is holy.
So once again, this is an issue of holiness – just like I stated in my post “Why We Should Stop Asking, “How Far is Too Far?”
If you can kiss and maintain your holy standing as a Christian woman – go ahead.
If you can kiss and restrain your desires, and help your man restrain his – go ahead.
If you can kiss and honor God, maintain holiness and still maintain a relationship that focuses more on the spiritual, the practical, the future than your physical present – then go ahead.
But don’t look down on those who saved their kiss, as if they are weak or inexperienced. Don’t be shallow.
And those of you who save your kiss – don’t look down on those who don’t. Saving your kiss doesn’t gain you salvation. After all, my husband and I both kissed other people before marriage. Do I think that was the best idea? No. But I also know I learned some valuable lessons that I’ll be teaching my daughters: you don’t have to kiss frogs to find princes.
Princes don’t need physical confirmation of a woman’s value. They already value you for who you are.
Men: don’t let your desires manipulate a woman’s insecurities. If you’re serious about her, do your best to make that known in EVERY way – not just the physical.
Women: don’t try to prove your value by what you can give physically, no matter how small that contribution. Make a man prove his heart for you – and don’t make it easy.
And as always, let the grace that saved you, and the holiness God requires, be the guide for your every decision.