By: John Bytheway
From the book: What I Wish I’d Known in High School: A Crash Course in Teenage Survival
One of the fun things about working with teenagers is interpreting their body language. If you’re giving a talk that bores them, teenagers don’t have any problem letting you know. They’ll yawn, fall asleep, rest their heads on their hands, sigh loudly, and set their alarm watches to go off. Some will even rest their heads on the bench in front of them and fall asleep. That’s why you see a red stripe on the foreheads of many deacons as they walk out of meetings. (Of course, you and I never fall asleep in meetings.)
All of us can communicate loud and clear without using words. In fact, as the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” With that idea in mind, let’s ask some questions. If you put your arm around someone on a date, what are you saying (without using words)? How about, “I like you.” Fair enough? Okay. What if you hold hands with your date? That’s a notch or two higher, isn’t it? Maybe that’s like saying, “I really like you.” What if you kiss your date? What are you saying? What do kisses mean, anyway?
My seminary teacher tried to explain that to a bunch of us sixteen-year-olds one day. He said, “Class, guys and girls are different.” Wow. We were shocked! Jaws around the room dropped to the floor. Several people passed out on the spot, and someone cried out, “Why didn’t someone tell us!?” Okay, I’m not being fair, because that’s not all he said. What he really said was, “Guys and girls are different, and sometimes expressions of affection mean different things to
different people. Generally speaking, when a girl is being kissed, she may be thinking, ‘Oh . . . this means he likes me; he cares for me, oh, how sweet.’” We sat motionless, all of us intensely interested but trying not to act like it. He continued, “When a boy is kissing a girl, he may be thinking, ‘Wow, this feels good. I’d like to do this again very soon.’” You may laugh at first, but think about that for a minute. Can you see the potential for problems?
Different people interpret kisses differently. Can you see how easily a miscommunication or a misunderstanding can happen? We communicate loud and clear with our actions, and if we’re not careful, we could be telling lies! Listen to Elder Marvin J. Ashton:
A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive. . . . A lie can be effectively communicated without words ever being spoken. 6
You mean, you can be dishonest by kissing someone? Yes. If putting your arm around someone means “I like you,” and holding hands means “I really like you,” than maybe kisses mean “I love you.” What do you think? Some will say, “I don’t know about that; I don’t think kisses mean I love you.” Perfect. That makes the point even better. Maybe kisses mean something different to you than they do to me, or to him, or her. And that’s exactly why we have to be careful—because we could be telling lies with our actions. This is a major reason why people get hurt, and why there’s heartache. Kisses are wonderful, but they are powerful and should be handled with great care.
I read about a young man who bragged that he had kissed more girls in one day than anyone else in his stake. 7 He felt he had set a “record.” To him, kissing was some kind of contest! I wonder how the girls felt about this. At the time they may have thought, “Wow. This boy really cares for me.” Did they know he was just going for a record? Did they realize that each girl he kissed was only a notch on the way to his “goal”? Do you think it would have hurt their feelings to know that? President Thomas S. Monson said, “Men, take care not to make women weep, for God counts their tears.” 8
What has happened to kissing? Doesn’t it mean anything anymore? Listen to President Spencer W. Kimball:
Kissing has been prostituted and 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 given out like pretzels, and robbed of sacredness? 9
Finally, the answer from a prophet: Kisses are sacred, and are meant to express affection, honor, and admiration. In contrast, if you give out your kisses like free samples at the grocery store, what are they worth? About the same as free samples at the grocery store!
I met a wonderful eighteen-year-old (now a wonderful nineteen-year-old on a mission) who wrote his feelings about kisses in the following poem:
The more the dollar is printed, the less each one is worth.
And so it is with kisses you’ve given since your birth.
The value of your kisses, a sample cannot measure,
Nor is your kiss more worthy if it’s said to give one pleasure.
The more and more you give away, the better your kiss is known.
And to all the world, your kiss is cheap, and your affection shown.
But if you save your kisses, no matter what the cost,
You’ll find as time moves forward, a chance you’ve saved, not lost!
Then when you find the one you love, with whom you’ll live life through,
Think of the worth of a perfect kiss, if saved for only you . . .
(Alvin W. Jones III. Used by permission.)
What an interesting poem, and what a great kid! Imagine a poem like that being written by a teenage boy in the ’90s! All that chosen generation stuff must be true. Alvin reminds us that kissing isn’t a contest! You can save your kisses, and “you’ll find as time moves forward, a chance you’ve saved, not lost.”
One of my friends had an interesting experience at a wedding reception. The bride pulled her aside and said, “Do you know what I regret?”
My friend said, “What?”
“I regret that I have kissed so many guys.”
“Yes. I asked my husband, ‘How many girls have you kissed?” and he said, ‘Um . . . I think three.’”
This bride was embarrassed, because she had given out kisses like pretzels. When you go to your wedding, you don’t want regrets to go with you. You just want bridesmaids and flowers and cake and a clean, worthy young man or young woman who stuck to his or her standards, as you did.
In short: Save your kisses; you may need them one day. Look forward to that wedding day, and plan for it. How do you want to feel as you kneel at the altar? How do you want to feel about your past when you’re looking into the eyes of your new husband or wife? Well, you can make it happen just the way you want if you plan it now!