“Speaking of Kissing,” New Era, June 2001, 32
I was 16 when a cousin of mine set me up with her friend. At that time I didn’t consider a kiss to be a very meaningful thing. I thought that kissing a date good-night was just a way of saying thank you for the date if both of us had enjoyed being together.
As I picked up my date and spent time with her, I was impressed by both her looks and her personality. We seemed to be having a great time together. Sometime during the date, I started debating whether or not I should kiss her good-night.
Before the date was over, I decided that she was having a good time, she seemed to like me, and kissing her good-night would be okay. After I walked her to her door and we talked for a while, I attempted to kiss her. As I did, she moved just enough so that I “missed.” She turned the attempted kiss into a hug, as if that was what I had meant it to be. She thanked me for the date and went inside.
She had subtly made it look like the hug was all I had intended, but it did not feel very subtle at the time. I thought the people waiting in the car had probably noticed, and I was embarrassed. But mostly I felt like I had blown it. She was a fun girl, and I thought she would never want to go out with me again because I had tried to kiss her when she did not want to be kissed.
The next day I went to see my cousin, and she excitedly asked how the date had gone. I told her about the great time I had, but also said that her friend would probably never want to go out with me again. I explained what had happened and said I was very anxious to know how her friend felt. I asked my cousin if she would call her friend to inquire about the date. The response of my date surprised me. She told my cousin that she had fun, but she was sure I wouldn’t want to go out with her again. It had not even occurred to me that she might think I’d be upset at her for turning her head. She went on to explain to my cousin that she just didn’t believe in kissing on the first date. That was a moment of change in my life.
I decided if an impressive girl like her chose not to kiss on the first date, I would never kiss on the first date either. But something more important occurred to me later as I thought about those events. I realized that I had been asking her to choose between her standards and what I wanted. That bothered me a lot. I did not think of myself as that kind of person. I promised myself I would never again put a young woman in that situation.
In observing the students I have taught in seminary over the last two decades, I noticed more and more youth choosing to carefully follow the instructions found in For the Strength of Youth.
President Spencer W. Kimball stated, “Kissing has … degenerated to develop and express lust instead of affection, honor, and admiration. To kiss in casual dating is asking for trouble. What do kisses mean when handed out like pretzels and robbed of sacredness?” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 281).
Since President Hinckley has asked youth not to become steadily involved with one person while in high school, does that mean that kissing while in high school is unwise? I had not heard President Kimball’s counsel while I was dating, but fortunately some personal experiences taught me the truth of his advice. After I graduated from high school, I thought a lot about how special kisses should be.
I have more and more students each year in my seminary classes express the desire to follow President Kimball’s counsel and save their kisses. There are many who have decided to stop kissing in their dating relationships and wait for a time when it can be more meaningful. I have children who have chosen to follow that advice, and I have seen the blessings that flow from it. If you will be determined to save your kisses for the appropriate time, and follow the guidelines set for us by prophets, you will reap the joy and peace that come from keeping sacred things sacred. You will also avoid the great sorrow and heartache that come from falling into the trap of immorality.
Don’t give up what you want most for something you want now. If, as Mormon tells his son, virtue is most precious and dear above all things (see Moro. 9:9), then it is worth sacrificing for.
The General Authorities have given guidelines that can help you understand where you should draw lines you will not cross. For the Strength of Youth advises you to not date before you are 16 years old, to go out in groups when you do date, and to avoid pairing off exclusively with one partner. President Gordon B. Hinckley has told youth, “When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 51).
This question is catchy and interesting—but the “how much” approach is the wrong way to look at this issue. The first kiss given by a girl I know to a certain fellow [was one too many], because it led to many more and to a miserable marriage.
The important questions are these: Whom should I kiss? Why? Under what circumstances?
Many things around you encourage you to give affection, such as your physical maturity, movies, advertising, music, stories, articles, and conversation. Granted this is the trend of the day. But there are good reasons why you should be discriminating and self-controlled in your giving of affection. As you are aware, kissing is more stimulating than satisfying; consequently, it invites more and more. Once a couple begins to share affection in a physical way, this activity tends to become the focus of interest. Often such a couple ceases to explore the other significant dimensions of personality: mind, character, maturity, religious faith, moral values, and goals.
Affection should grow out of genuine friendship and brotherly love, not precede them, if one wishes to be sure of having real and lasting love in marriage. Kissing for the sake of kissing invites more affection, and many fine young people become more deeply involved than they actually wish to be.
Affection should never be sought after as an end in itself, because this does violence to a person.
Excerpted from Lowell Bennion, Q&A, New Era, Feb. 1971, 5–6.
“The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. It is beautiful when handled in the right way. It is deadly if it gets out of hand.
“It is for this reason that the Church counsels against early dating. This rule is not designed to hurt you in any way. It is designed to help you, and it will do so if you will observe it.
“Steady dating at an early age leads so often to tragedy. Studies have shown that the longer a boy and girl date one another, the more likely they are to get into trouble.
“It is better, my friends, to date a variety of companions until you are ready to marry. Have a wonderful time, but stay away from familiarity. Keep your hands to yourself. It may not be easy, but it is possible” (New Era, Jan. 2001, 13).
—President Gordon B. Hinckley
I recently completed a doctoral dissertation that examined factors that help young people stay morally clean. I used data supplied by LDS and non-LDS juniors in two different high schools. One of the most crucial factors in staying morally clean for these young people was choosing to wait until age 16 to date. While about 70 percent of those who did not date until they were 16 had avoided immoral behavior, more than 80 percent of those who reported dating before age 16 had become sexually involved enough to require a bishop’s help for repentance.
The same kind of statistics held true for those teens who had steady dating partners. Of the 308 11th graders surveyed, 95 reported having a current boyfriend or girlfriend. Of those 95, only six had never been involved in making out (or kissing for a long time), and more than half of them had transgressed the laws of chastity. For all of the students polled, not dating until 16, avoiding steady dating, attending church weekly, and having close relationships with parents and family were important factors in keeping themselves morally clean.
As a seminary teacher, I have occasionally seen young people trying to fit their actions into the letter of Church guidelines while missing the spirit of this counsel. If young people are going to avoid dating until they are 16, and avoid exclusive dating relationships in high school after 16, they should also avoid what might be considered exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend relationships before 16.