Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#12 Waiting until your wedding day to kiss

lisa.jpgWho does this? Well, a lot of Christians do. If you google it you’ll find blogs and message boards filled with accounts of people who are waiting for their wedding day to kiss someone, anyone, for the first time.

This idea is popular almost exclusively in Christian culture and orthodox Muslim communities, but in Christianity you usually get to pick your spouse yourself and see your fiancée’s face without a veil before the wedding day. The reasons the Christians cite for waiting till their wedding day often include:


–They don’t want to be overwhelmed by temptation before they are legally married so they’re not going to get the ball rolling beforehand.

—They have been “sexually impure” in the past and don’t want to be tempted to repeat history. (Without fail, these couples also make a point of letting everyone know they are careful not to put themselves in tempting situations and spend their time together with their friends or in public.)

–They want the kiss to “mean something.”

–They say being able not to kiss before marriage will mean you have a strong relationship and therefore it will last.

The irony of this unusual decision is that it somehow takes on an idolatrous quality. The focus is on how the couple is not kissing and therefore how “pure” they are. Their not-kissing becomes a sort of idol. The couple is commended vigorously by the Christian community. “I personally could never do it. I admire you for doing this.” “Kudos on your commitment to purity!” “Whoo, that’s gonna be some wedding night!” (Is it ever.) The not-kissing decision is not a secret. If the decision not to kiss was kept private then it could possibly be construed by the general populace as special and romantic (albeit weird), but when your extended relatives and neighbors down the street know you are not kissing until the altar, it takes on a voyueristic quality. When attending a wedding where the bride and groom haven’t kissed, it is all anyone talks about while waiting for the ceremony to start. You’re nervous for them. You’re embarrassed that their grandparents are watching. You think about the wedding night and how they’re going to go from zero to sex in one go, then you wince at the images flooding your brain. You may suffer dizziness, nausea, and even lack of faith. Why would God want people to not kiss until their wedding day? Do I want to serve a God that wants us to be that pure and holy? Then, if you are lucky, you will realize that the not-kissing decision likely has nothing to do with God and everything to do with them. The years the couple has spent listening to Josh MacDowell “Why Wait?” sermons in youth group struck terror of physical intimacy deep within their hearts and by the time they met each other they hadn’t kissed anyone at all because they’d been too afraid. This can lead to this extremist notion of putting the whole thing off. WAY off.


joshua.jpgIf you are a Christian male and your girlfriend wants to wait to kiss until you’re married, your hands are tied. Any misgivings about her decision can too easily be interpreted as being disrespectful of her “commitment to purity” and any protesting on your part could make you look like a filthy horndog who isn’t really interested in marriage. The bride often has little to no sex drive as she has been raised to think sex is irrelevant and sort of dirty, so they compromise by not kissing till the altar and ride the endorphins of glowing commendation on their purity from family and friends. Then once they’re married the husband is ready to go but the wife is terrified. He spends the honeymoon furiously bench pressing in the hotel gym while she cries in a corner of their honeymoon suite and calls her mom. Glory be to God!

**This post originally aired on August 13, 2008, and warranted reposting as friends who waited to kiss just filed for divorce.

Comments read comments(28)
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Josh Baker

posted November 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Probably one of the funniest and truest posts I’ve seen on here in awhile.

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Kyle Reardon

posted November 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I had a couple of engaged friends who were doing this. I told my mother about it, (she’s an ordained minister) and her reaction was, “WHY would you do THAT?! You would have no idea if you have any physical chemistry!” I thought about it. Imagine kissing your spouse for the first time on the alter and just realizing, “yeah, I’m not too into this. I don’t think we’re on the same page here.” all of a sudden sex isn’t only a terrifying first experience, but it turns into something you have to get through begrudingly.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I love this post. I was utterly horrified when the pastor announced in front of the whole assembled people that my sister and her fiance were about to share their first kiss this VERY MOMENT! (voyeurism worth the price of admission! time to stare in fascination!)
One of my most favorite OOPS moments of all time came six years later, in a late-night, fiercely competitive game of “I have never”, with a reunion of raucous Christian cousins (in which there may have been drinking). When it came down to a game-winning point, my sister and her husband became divided on the question of whether they actually HAD kissed before their wedding. Red faces, humiliation and silent fury ensued between them while we all watched. (Again with the intimacy on display! This first kiss business is an endless source of voyeuristic pleasure!). She has never lived that down.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I much prefer to say, “I have never kissed anyone but my wife,” though I didn’t necessarily mention when. It’s definitely a good thing that we kissed before we married.

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Tony D.

posted November 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I’m very sorry to hear about your friends.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I know it’s none of my business, but can I ask what the reasons for your friends’ divorce were? I’m always interested to talk with divorced or unhappily married couples that once believed their marriage was God-ordained, because I’m curious to know how their beliefs or perspectives have changed.
I’ve witnessed my fair share of friends waiting to kiss, and of friends rushing into marriage right out of Bible college only to break up later. I think a lot of Christians become blind to warning signs in an upcoming marriage because they believe it’s what God wants them to do.

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stephanie drury

posted November 3, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I’m happy to share what I know of this because they put the reasons on display. They feel they were pressured by their church leaders to get married so as to avoid sexual temptation and get on with starting a family. They say they didn’t marry so much out of love as they did feeling they were “supposed” to get married.
I know a dozen people who have divorced under these same circumstances.

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Rollo Tomassi

posted November 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I think it’s a testament of God’s miraculous power that Evangelicals ever breed at all.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm

“…warranted reposting as friends who waited to kiss just filed for divorce.”
No further comment.
You’ll recognise the tree by it’s fruit I guess…

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posted November 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Dear Ms. Drury,
Writing as an evangelical pastor, I readily admit to the wisdom of sexual abstinence outside of marriage, but I’m really glad I kissed several girls before I got married. One girl I kissed in junior high was a terrible kisser. I cannot imagine the horror of being committed to that dry, thin lipped experience until death parted us. And no, I was not the problem, she was. Of course she may have improved her technique over time. For her future partner’s sake I pray that this is so. For the voyeuristic pleasure of your readers, the lovely Mrs. L is a smoocher of outstanding quality. I was glad to discover this repeatedly long before our wedding day.
I believe ‘horndog’ is one of the funniest euphemisms to have been created in a long time. Of course, it has almost ruined the corndog eating experience for me.
Finally, to Rollo Tomassi: Well said, sir!!
Mouth wateringly yours, Lee

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Brent White

posted November 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I’m less interested than many people above in the question of “chemistry,” because I don’t believe that compatibility is an incredibly important factor in whether or not a marriage survives for a lifetime. (Love and commitment, yes! Compatibility, meh…) Chemistry is something you have to work on and develop throughout the marriage. The person you marry today won’t be the same person 5, 15, or 50 years down the road anyway. We change and grow. Let’s make sure we don’t grow apart, that’s the challenge.
My bigger fear by far is that it teaches impressionable Christians that sex is dirty—and actually doing it, therefore, can be incredibly frightening, guilt-inducing, and not at all what was promised. My question is this: How can sex go from being absolutely the worst sin you can possibly commit one moment (which is what the Josh McDowells of the world implicitly teach) and God’s greatest gift—God’s honeymoon present (puke, gag)—the next? It can’t.
I hope that couples who are indoctrinated in this way find a good sex therapist somewhere down the road. They’ll need it.
I love your blog!

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Brent White

posted November 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Silly me. My web address should have read

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posted November 4, 2010 at 1:00 am

Wow. Is that Lee for real? I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt and think that he’s only joking about practicing kissing and how being stuck in a marriage with someone who is a bad kisser is that bad. His POV is definitely idolizing kissing way more than the couple who doesn’t kiss.
I am an aid worker in a Muslim country and plenty of couples see each other and talk to each other before marriage (and I live in the strictest Muslim parts of the world). Kissing each other definitely goes way too way here. Purity for Muslims is more important than purity of Christians in America.
I think every culture has a tendency to disobey. For American Christians, loving your enemy is preached, but purity is not a highlight. In the middle east, purity is preached, but loving your enemy is not on their radar. So we have to remember that American Christians are already at the wrong end of the purity scale when discussing things like kissing or clothing.

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posted November 4, 2010 at 1:00 am

I’ve never felt so sad for Christians as I did reading this. Can we do nothing for these people or should we just try to keep them as comfortable as possible until the end comes?

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posted November 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

Ah, the obsession with purity–one of conservative Christianity’s greatest idols, even though it doesn’t mean what most people think its means.
Soren Kierkegaard once wrote a book entitled, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” That is, purity is single-mindedness (note, not narrow-mindedness), and has little to do with sexuality.
This also makes me wonder if these purity fanatics have ever read the Song of Solomon.

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posted November 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Dear Daniel,
Yes, I am for real in that I do exist.
Yes, I am for real in that I wouldn’t exactly relish the idea of being married to a kisser who somehow does not meet my satisfaction for how kissing should be done.
No, I am not always for real in that I perceive Ms. Drury’s posts to contain a great deal of satire, so I occasionally enjoy responding in kind, so please don’t take all I write seriously.
No, I am not for real in that I know that the physical aspect of a marriage is a component of the whole relationship and should be not idolized as to what’s most important. But I really do enjoy kissing my wife.
Yes, I am for real in that when I think of consuming a corndog I often think of the word horndog and choose a different menu item.
May God bless you in your work in a Muslim country, and thank you for willingness to do it. And I’m being seriously for real there. Not satirical.
Kisses, Lee
captcha: hieweed Poesie

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posted November 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Wow – what a way to set up extraordinary expectations that have almost no way to be met! Intimate relations are learned, they are not experienced in a whoosh and a flash simply because vows and rings were exchanged. Having no opportunity to learn and explore creates an atmosphere where disappointment lingers in every corner and shadow. It is not simply unrealistic, it can be harmful. A balanced and considerate relationship will allow for appropriate expressions of intimacy and physical contact. The vows and rings are simply public declarations of an established relationship, they are not the starting gun for creating that relationship.

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posted November 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I especially agree with what you said about the idolatrous quality of the no-kissing rule. Every couple I know who has decided to do this has been SO prideful, and went to great lengths to let everyone know of their decision – putting it in the invitation, on the wedding website, even a nice little video before the ceremony. If it’s a personal conviction, keep it personal!

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posted November 6, 2010 at 1:57 am

While I’ve known the types in Stephanie’s example (their kiss is usually a chaste peck on the lips), I knew a couple who obnoxiously made a huge deal of waiting to kiss before marriage, but decided it was OK for him to grab her ass once they were engaged. (He would also yell, “submit, woman” when she disagreed with him. Adorable, right?!) Their kiss at the altar lasted at least five minutes and resembled nothing so much as two flesh eating zombies in a battle to the death to see who could eat the other’s face first. There was more spit involved than the scene in 8 Mile where Taryn Manning and Eminem hook up in the auto factory. Of course no one was spared the details of how many times and places they “did it” on the honeymoon.
I also knew a couple who only hugged at the altar. Apparently they somehow ruined kissing by doing it before they were married, and felt so guilty they decided not to kiss. Don’t even ask me about the couple who couldn’t hold hands until they tied the knot. Anyway, I agree think there is something deeply disturbing about the cult of “purity.” It’s fun to laugh at neurotic prudes, but there is an awful lot of damaging messages being given young adults in the name of purity. Purity is about the quality of ones’s heart, not one’s hymen. It’s the things we often do to get sex (lie, break promises, objectify others) and not sex itself that is wrong.

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posted November 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Bekah, I’m sorry you had to see that! Weird and gross. I bet it was a dry wedding too. Am I right? Aside from the saliva, of course 😉
Steve, I’ve actually heard pastors and speakers at women’s retreats (aka: pastors’ wives) suggest reading Song of Solomon aloud with your spouse in order to spice things up in the bedroom. I’ve also heard them “encourage” the unmarried NOT to read it. On that note, I’ll begin a rant to the general readership:
I just don’t understand how couples could be turned on by such an act. It’d be like getting all hot reading the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet to each other, only with constant irrelevant similes. Then again, I’ve been kissing my live-in boyfriend almost daily for 4 years, so I assume Biblical porn has little effect on us jaded folk. That must be part of my punishment. I will miss all the wild sex romps that are promised to occur after hearing “Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them have lost it’s young.” *sigh*
I’m so turned on right now. SOS is way hawt! And way pure! It’s a win-win for the (married) purists! I wonder if Solomon wrote such sexy songs for all his wives. Que romantico!

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posted November 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

@ Bekah: “It’s the things we often do to get sex (lie, break promises, objectify others) and not sex itself that is wrong.”
Preach it, sister!
@ Chrissy: Aw, come on. “Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out” is a great metaphor. ;P

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Charles Cosimano

posted November 6, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I would think any normal young man would say, “You’re nuts!” and go out and find somebody else.

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posted November 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

LOL, Chrissy, you are right on with your guess. I do remember around 5th grade or so, going to a Christian school with little in the way of sex ed, we used to read SoS to get our kicks. Although we were mostly titillated by the mention of the word breasts, some of the more adult metaphors went straight over our heads.
Those of you who are interested, there is a great book called “Rapture Ready” by Daniel Radosh about the absurdities of Christian culture from a non-christian perspective. This is where I learned that you can buy a customized Bible with your and your family members’ names inserted in place of the personal pronouns, so that instead of “your breasts are like two fawns,” It says (to use the author’s example) “Gina’s breasts are like two fawns.”

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posted November 18, 2010 at 10:20 am
this article is called from “hi” to “i do” in one year.
This black and white thinking really scares me!

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posted December 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm

My husband and I kissed for the first time at the altar. Our church had strict dating rules which we abided by. There were no kudos for not kissing, it was taken for granted. Many cultures and religions such as Orthodox Judaism forbid kissing or even touching. Old Italians didn’t touch while dating–remember the dating scene in The Godfather when Michael and his fiancée were trailed by her relatives during courtship? Hollywood has dictated Western mores for the past 80 or so years with resulting unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Granted, our former church was unreasonably strict, but we’ve been happily married for 33 years. A secular poll ran a statistic on sexual satisfaction in marriage and interestingly, Evangelical women scored the highest in sexual satisfaction. BTW–I hardly “cowered crying in the corner on our honeymoon night while my husband bench pressed.” We had and still have a wonderful, free and passionate relationship. The idea of SoS as Biblical porn made me laugh out loud.

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Unnatural Lifestyle

posted February 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Chrissy–it’s funny, when my wife and I were dating, I’d gay up the pronouns in Song of Solomon and read it to her. Intended use?

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posted April 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

My cousin and his wife waited until the altar to kiss for the first time. Not only did everyone know about it, and not only did the reverend announce “and that was their first kiss!” right after the big moment, they were SUPER affectionate and touchy-feely the whole time they were dating. To an uncomfortable extent. As though long forehead-to-forehead stares and horizontal cuddling (in front of family, no less) were somehow less sinful and/or tempting activities than touching lips.

I understand it was their personal choice and they had the right to make that decision, but they way they handled it just made it SO awkward for the rest of us.

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Tipple ness

posted May 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.

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