What Does the Bible Say about Kissing?
In the U.S. we rarely kiss someone other than a family member or a boyfriend/girlfriend. Instead, when greeting acquaintances or when introduced to a new person, we usually shake hands or bump fists. Europeans often greet one another with three quick kisses (more like pecks) on both cheeks, from one side to the other. Some gentlemen kiss a lady’s hand (especially when they find them appealing). Nowadays, air kisses abound all over the world, where no lips touch any skin. They are just smooch-posed lips and a lean in toward the other person. And Eskimo kisses (as they are called) put two people face to face as their noses rub against each other.
Blowing kisses is seen as precious to little ones and non-threatening to adults. In India, people greet one another with hands pressed together at chest level accompanied by a little bow. There also exist in the world areas where kissing and public displays of affection are illegal.
But what does the Bible say about kissing? What’s permitted and what’s forbidden?
Where Do We Find Kissing in the Bible?
Both the Old Testament and New Testament give us examples of kisses of greeting and kisses of departure. From Genesis through 1 Peter, kissing is described and/or shown as a “kiss of love (1 Peter 5:14), a holy kiss (Romans 16:16), a romantic kiss (Song of Solomon 1:2), a sibling kiss (Genesis 48:10), and a family kiss (Genesis 29:13).
A kiss of betrayal is depicted but not directly called that in Mark 14:14.
In a Non-Romantic Way, How Do We See Kissing as a Greeting in the Bible?
A number of passages give us a good look at brotherly kisses, those of deep affection with no sinful attitude or intent.
In the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 20 gives us the account of David and Jonathan’s friendship. They were closer than brothers and loved each other as dear friends. Their relationship should be one like we seek with other believers. No doubt their kiss was holy and it involved absolutely nothing but brotherly affection.
In his books to the churches in Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica, Paul appealed to the people to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26). Paul qualified the type of kiss with which they were to make their greeting, and it was to be holy. Holy means it conforms to God’s character.
Bible Verses about Kissing
What follows are nine verses which describe nine different types of kisses as mentioned in the Scriptures:
- Kisses of reverent affection (Luke 7:38).
- Kisses of reunion (2 Samuel 14:33)
- Kisses when departing each other’s company (Ruth 1:14)
- Kisses which show respect to another (Psalm 2:12)
- Parental kisses between parents and children (Exodus 18:7)
- Kisses among male members of families (Genesis 45:15)
- Kisses denoting brotherly love in fellowship and worship (Romans 16:16)
- Kissing an idol (Hosea 13:2)
- The kisses of a lover (spouse) – Song of Solomon
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Is Kissing (Romantically) Outside of Marriage a Sin?
As with any actions we take, motive and intent factor greatly in kissing. For anyone, Christian or not, kissing is an amazingly personal use of our bodies. As Christians, however, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9). The extent to which kissing progresses between a man and a woman governs what happens next, and a kiss, while not a sin in and of itself, may lead to the sin of sex outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). The Bible says a husband and wife become one flesh within their marriage union (Genesis 2:24). Anything outside of that is sin.
The issue is intimacy. God has ordained intimacy for marriage between a man and a woman.
There’s always a biblical warning against sexual immorality, and the Lord hates it so much he likened Israel’s sins of idolatry and rebellion against Him to sexual immorality (e.g., various verses in Ezekiel 23). In the New Testament, we are warned against sexual immorality in thirty verses.
When pondering this matter, think on this: the only time the word kiss (kissed) is used in a positive manner regarding romantic love is in Song of Solomon (where the male and female are married). Other than that, kiss is used in a friendly or family sense. There’s a reason for that. While the Bible is not explicit in its commendation or condemnation of romantic kissing outside of marriage, the Bible infers it’s not the right action. When the Bible is nebulous on a particular issue, it always contains other commandments and encouragements which will direct a person in the righteous way.
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How Can Christians Establish Good Boundaries While Growing a Romantic Relationship?
The Bible has much to say about our conduct as Christians. We belong to Jesus and, as His, we are to reflect Him to the world. It’s not an easy endeavor — abstaining from what the world throws at us in every form imaginable (social media, television, print media, billboards, even non-stop images hurled at us in most retail stores and even gas stations). We truly are aliens and strangers here (John 15:18-19; John 17:16; Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 2:11). Our conduct, while seeming prudish to unbelievers, is to be without reproach. The Lord has placed His Spirit within us as a guarantee we are His (Ephesians 1:13). We are sealed and we can call on Him for help in any and every situation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
That being said, a Christian doesn’t date just to date. A Christian should pray about the spouse the Lord has chosen for them, and when someone appeals to them, a series of checks and balances needs to occur. Preventative measures against temptation are of paramount importance.
- Immerse yourself in the Word. There is no greater teacher than the Holy Spirit as he guides you through God’s Word.
- Pray fervently to stay pure.
When thinking of a possible mate, ask yourself:
- Is the person a believer? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
- Does the person model godly behavior in all other parts of their life?
- Advice from the Bible and from other godly Christians should be heeded.
- Counsel from a pastor and his wife will aid a couple’s decisions
- Since we are to be above reproach, practicing self-control is a strong witness to unbelievers. Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us.
Living above Reproach
The world will tell us everything is acceptable. But is it indeed? God’s Word says different, and as Christians we are to stand on His Word and follow His commands to lead a holy life. “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Christians who long to be more and more like Jesus are to live lives above reproach (Colossians 1:22), avoiding the very appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Staying pure for our King is hard work, but one day when we stand before the Lord, we will long to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Being an excellent steward of our bodies, including how and whom we kiss, matters.
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Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.