Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

How Many Kisses?

By: Rand H. Packer

From the book: Why Say No When The World Says  Yes? Resisting Temptation in an Immoral World

When I was thirteen, my friend who was fourteen asked me, “Rand, you kissed a girl yet?”

“Are you kidding?” I responded with a mixture of pride and embarrassment. “I haven’t even been out with a girl yet, let alone kissed one. Have you?”

“Yeah,” my friend said with cool candor. “Last night, me and Ruth Ann.”

“Really? Well, what was it like? How did it go? How did it feel?”

All my friend could say was, “WOW!” Just, “WOW!”

It didn’t take me long to discover that my friend was having a “WOW” experience with every girl he went out with. It was kind of a personal challenge to him, something that was expected or even required before a date could be called successful.

You are aware, are you not, that there are some, perhaps many, young men and women who believe that the whole purpose of a date is to get a kiss or even more?

That reminds me of a story about a guy named Bill. He had a date with a girl named Mickie, and when she refused to give him a good-night kiss, he said, “Look, Mickie. Ordinarily I can understand being refused a good-night kiss on the first date, but this was the junior prom! The ticket cost me twenty dollars, and the flowers were twelve dollars and ten cents.”

She wasn’t impressed, so he continued. “The tux rental was thirty bucks, and the spot-remover cost me two dollars and ten cents.”

Mickie only looked at him a little sorrowfully, and so he babbled on.

“The taxi ride to dinner was eight dollars and three cents, and the dinner was thirty-five dollars and eighty-three cents!”

Not getting the response he wanted, Bill began to scream. “Refreshments were four dollars and eighty-five cents, and the taxi home was nine dollars and thirty-two cents!”

“So,” Mickie asked coolly, “What’s your point?”

“Well,” Bill said plaintively, “Don’tcha think I deserve just a little something?”

So she wrote him out a check for one hundred twenty-two dollars and twenty-three cents.

It is obvious that the only thing Bill was interested in that night was not Mickie’s happiness but a selfish gratification of his own physical desires. Mickie’s feelings seemed to mean nothing to Bill, for which she paid him back with equal warmth: a cold check for $122.23.

What is a kiss worth, anyway? Better still, what is a kiss for? And what does a kiss do?

Obviously, one effect of kissing is that it stirs the passions that exist in all of us. Those passions were put there by a loving Father whose intent is to help us become like him. The emotions, passions, and desires that are part of our physical makeup are not illegitimate but rather important characteristics that will help us fulfill our ultimate destiny. The Lord has told us that until we are properly married, we are to control these passions. Then, after we are married, we can enjoy the expression of them and they will serve to bring us and our spouse closer together and ultimately make us “one”—both physically and spiritually.

It is interesting that one of the words meaning “kiss” in the Hebrew language is nasaq, which also means “to catch fire” or “to burn or kindle.” But this kindling must be done on the Lord’s timetable, or the entire forest is in danger of being burned to the ground and left desolate for at least a season. The passions themselves are God-given, hence the commandment, “And also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12).

The purpose of a bridle is to control and to keep headed in the right direction. A horse without a bridle is like a runaway freight train with no track. I have been on the back of a galloping runaway horse without a bridle, hanging on for dear life and having no control of where I was being taken. If I had only had a bridle, I could have controlled the horse. Instead, he controlled me and dumped me at his own pleasure.

The media has helped convince the world that a kiss is an expression of passion and a prelude to sexual behavior. No longer is it a symbol of loyalty, pure affection, and respect. Merchants intent on selling their wares promise us that if we will just chew their brand of gum, wear their style of clothing, soak ourselves in their sensuous fragrance, drive their make of car, or visit their recommended vacation spot, they can get us kisses. In fact, they imply, they can get us a whole lot more than kisses.

If there is mutual attraction, it is natural for a young man and a young woman to enjoy spending time together. If they do not take care to structure the amount of time they spend and control the places they go together, they are likely to become improperly affectionate with each other. As surely as night follows day, prolonged kissing leads to more intimate expressions—expressions that the Lord has commanded us to reserve for the beautiful and sacred relationship of husband and wife. Kissing soon gives way to necking, kindling the flame of desires more intensely. Necking is defined as passionate kissing, which includes French kissing or “soul kissing,” as it is often called. It is easy to see the relationship of such kissing to total sexual expression.

As desires are stoked, petting often ensues. Petting involves the touching and fondling of private, sacred parts of the body and is itself a forbidden sexual activity for single people. It carries a restriction imposed by Heavenly Father, stamped in bold letters, “For Married Couples Only!”

The passions unleashed by this kind of intimacy are so powerful that once they are ignited—like gasoline being splashed on a fire—they become increasingly difficult to control. Those who stimulate themselves in this way—whether innocently or by design—are flirting with unhappy consequences. Many young people have broken their own hearts and forfeited their blessings by foolishly imagining they could trifle with these sacred emotions or use them for recreational purposes.

The sharing of oneself with another in this way is part of the process of becoming “one” with each other. Though it is a physical relationship, it overflows with spiritual implications. There really is no other experience in life quite like it. To give oneself in this way is to give all that one is and ever hopes to be, to someone else. But, this giving requires permission and authority from the great giver of life Himself.

How can the sexual activity that is so destructive before marriage be a sanctifying experience in the marriage? Why does the Lord condone and bless sexual activity after marriage and condemn it before?

Over the course of my life I have had reason to counsel with many unmarried young people who said they loved each other. These couples often ask me, “Why is it so wrong to show our love? We’re going to be married anyway. Why is sharing our love in this way evil prior to a ceremony and celestial after some words have been said? How does a ceremony or a signed piece of paper change all that?” These are important questions and deserve to be answered.

If you were to have walked down the streets of Jerusalem in the days of Jesus, you would have noticed certain individuals walking toward you with large keys tied around their neck. The keys were evidence that there was a room somewhere in which great wealth or something of value was stored. The key entitled the bearer to enter the room and to partake of its contents. The only legitimate access to the room was by use of the key. To safeguard the key and reduce the possibility of the keys being stolen, they were secured around the owner’s neck. Hence the imagery of “keys,” which was often used by the Savior. Certainly thieves could break into the room and steal the riches and wealth. But someday they would be found out and made to pay for their crime, either in this life or the next. The purpose of the key was not only to protect the wealth but to unlock the wealth, making it available to be used.

Even today, keys play a vital role. Outside my office in the parking lot is a little Chevrolet Chevette. Underneath the hood are about forty idle horses not doing anything. Each night I walk out to my car, insert my key, and unleash the power of those forty idle horses, turning them into anxious thoroughbreds ready to take me to my destination. Yes, someone could break into the car, hot wire it, and steal it. But again, sometime, either in this life or the next, the truth will be known and payment exacted.

It is my belief that when a young couple goes to the temple, they receive a celestial key (permission) to use their procreative powers. That is a first step in our journey toward godhood. The marriage ceremony is the way the Lord officially sanctions the right to touch each other, to share ourselves, and to join with God in the creation of life.

It may be useful to think of the physical relationship between a man and a woman as God’s gift to the marriage and that we are not to open the present early. I have discovered that after twenty-two years of marriage, all of our original wedding presents, so far as I know, have vanished—except God’s gift to our marriage. It remains with us still and will forever. There is nothing quite like this gift.

If we follow our Father’s instructions in this matter, the promise is a greater glory, “which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19). To me this promise means that someday, after my sweetheart and I have learned all that we are supposed to learn, Heavenly Father might say to us, “Rand and Shirlee, go over there about three hundred twenty-nine light years, veer to the left for another seventy-two light years, and then you can be together forever and ever and have a relationship with each other forever and ever and have quarterbacks and cheerleaders forever and ever.” I know of no promise that God has given that thrills me more than this one.

If you are still confused about premarital sex or if you are struggling with temptation, consider this. Those who wait until after marriage to share physical intimacies are not only free to discover the pleasure but, unencumbered by guilt, are able to enjoy an astonishing, glorious, and joyful experience. On the other hand, those who elect not to wait forfeit something precious and always describe the experience as being somehow empty, hollow, and disappointing.

We have now come full circle in regard to the question we asked in the beginning about when and with whom to share kisses. The relationship between a man and a woman can be either good or bad, and the starting point of that relationship is a kiss. When should you share a kiss, and where? How many dates before a kiss is appropriate? Is kissing bad? Is it okay to kiss before you are married? Perhaps this little story will provide some answers.

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