The Scriptures encourage us to exchange kisses of welcome and peace, yet they also caution us about the perils of lust and intimate actions, such as kissing beyond the confines of marriage.
The Bible actually has plenty to say on the subject of kissing – though it comes in a handful of different contexts. The Bible speaks to kissing as a form of peaceful greeting as well as romantic kissing.
Let’s dig into what the Bible has to say about kissing.
Mentions of Kissing in the Bible
First, let’s look at some different mentions of kissing throughout the scriptures. We see the act touched on in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Kissing in the Old Testament
There are many mentions of kissing in the Old Testament – most playing a part in a story or prose, such as:
- Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)
- And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. (2 Samuel 15:5)
- Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father. (Genesis 29:10-12)
There are a few mentions of kissing in the books of Psalms and Proverbs, where kissing is often used as a metaphor:
- Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalm 85:10)
- Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
- Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. (Proverbs 24:26)
And then of course the book of Song of Solomon features a good bit of kissing:
- Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. (Song of Solomon 1:2)
- Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother’s breasts! If I found you outside, I would kiss you, and none would despise me. I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother— she who used to teach me. (Song of Solomon 8:1-2)
Kissing in the New Testament
In the New Testament, kissing usually refers to kisses of greeting or passing of peace, something Paul and Peter both recommend in their letters:
- Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (Romans 16:16)
- Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:14)
- You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. (Luke 7:45)
Let’s now take a look at the different contexts of kissing and see what the Bible might have to say.
Romantic Kissing Outside of Marriage
The biggest question most are asking here is probably: “Is it okay to kiss a significant other outside of marriage.” This is a big question, and the better question might actually be, “How far is too far before marriage?” And “Does God forgive going too far before marriage?”
The Bible on Sex
As we’ve mentioned many times in this series on sex-related questions, we’d be remiss if we didn’t again reiterate that sex is a good thing. The Bible is clear from start to finish that sex is a gift from God meant to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. Sex is the deepest form of personal intimacy, meant to be enjoyed with the person to whom we’ve made the deepest covenant.
Now, for those outside of marriage, the Bible is clear sex is off-limits – not because God wants to keep good things from us, but because He wants good for us. Because it’s the deepest form of intimacy, it isn’t to be taken lightly. We believe this includes anal sex.
Sex ties souls together – it’s deeply personal and emotional – and when performed where there’s no matching commitment, there can be deep hurt, pain, and shame. Is this the case for everyone whose had sex outside of marriage? Perhaps not, but it is at its most beautiful and satisfying in marriage.
Is Kissing Before Marriage a Sin?
Back to our original question, “How far is too far before marriage?” We give a similar answer when we discuss touching breasts and heavy petting.
This is a question not explicitly answered in the Bible, primarily because dating wasn’t much of a thing in Israel or in first century Jewish culture. But the Bible has plenty of principles we can apply to the question. Let’s first look at few passages of scripture on sexual immorality:
- But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
- Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Ephesians 5:3)
You may be thinking, “We’re just talking about kissing, does that really fall into the category of sexual immorality?” Maybe and maybe not. But Jesus’ words in Matthew make it clear the action is less important than the heart.
It’s important to note that romantic kissing is a gift from God meant in most cases to be a prelude to sex, kind of like oral sex. Even if it isn’t always a precursor to intercourse, it can certainly stir up desires for sex – just like being around someone of the opposite sex who is showing off their body.
With that in mind, it’s important to be wise. Are you prone to sexual desires? Does kissing cause you to want more from your significant other? Throughout the Proverbs, Solomon speaks of the wayward woman or prostitute – often not referring to an actual woman, but to the desires that grow in us as we begin to give ourselves up to them.
Perhaps light kisses while standing are perfectly safe for you. But they may stir something in you to the point they should be avoided as well. If you find yourself having wet dreams about kissing, it might be a sign it’s too far for you.
So there’s no direct answer, but the Bible would certainly tell us to be wise. Here are some wise and helpful principles:
- Be safe. Guard yourself and your significant other.
- Don’t seek to “toe the line.” Seek to honor God and the other.
- Involve wise adults in your relationship.
- Be invested in a local church where other believers see you and your significant other interacting. Invite these people to speak into your lives.
- If you’re struggling to find a Christian man or woman to date, and that’s one reason you keep struggling with pushing the boundaries, try a Christian dating app to find a solid partner
Kissing as a Form of Brotherly Love
Should we be giving each other holy kisses in the twenty-first century?
Here are some helpful words from John Piper:
“It doesn’t seem like Paul and Peter tell the church that we dare not even see one another without kissing one another. It is not that kind of rule. For instance, if you walk out of this room while we are having tea, and you walk back into the room, it’s not like I need to greet you with a kiss. Or if I see you between classes at 9:00, I need to kiss you, and if I see you after that class as we are walking down the hall, I need to kiss you again. Paul and Peter were not prescribing that kind of precision.
They were saying to take the physical, familial expression of endearment, and use it in a way that is holy to express your love for one another. And he didn’t prescribe that it had to be done every single time you see one another fresh for the first time. They just said to use it and do it. And I think that we would do well to think of ways that we might include a holy kiss in our greetings, especially perhaps for very dear friends after very long absences. And I am mainly thinking of people of the same sex here because I think you have to be so careful with kissing people of the opposite sex.”
The Bible’s Thoughts on Kissing
In conclusion kissing is celebrated and encouraged:
- In marriage
- As a form of brotherly love (when appropriate, without being too weird)
Kissing in dating isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Bible, nor is it forbidden, but we should be wise in how we approach any act that could lead down the path to sex.