Friday, December 12, 2014

Under the Mistletoe: Answering Your Questions About Kissing

You'd be surprised by how many questions we get from our readers about kissing!
Or maybe not.....kissing is a hot-topic after all!

So today we're going to tackle a few often-asked questions about the subject.
And please remember, these are just our own perspectives based off of guidelines given by our church leaders and from our own experiences. :) 
And we will be referring to For the Strength of Youth (FTSOY) a lot!

How Old Should I Be Before I Kiss Someone?

The Church has not set a specific Do-Not-Kiss-Until age :) This means it is a personal choice that is to be made by following the Spirit and seeking advice from your parents or other trusted adults. 
Each girl is different in her experiences with dating and her relationships, especially in high school. Some of you may go on dates often while some of you may not have as many opportunities or even any boys that you WANT to go out with :) Some of you may have already kissed someone and again, some of you may not even WANT to kiss any of the boys that you know. 

What you have to remember is that kissing is not the center-point of a date or a relationship. Your purpose in being around boys and going on dates is to see different personalities, build friendships, and to just have fun!

Sadly though, everything in the world around us tricks us believe that relationships HAVE to include kissing and romance. This is not true!!! Relationships are not just about the physical, it's about so much more.

President Spencer W. Kimball said,

“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 given out like pretzels and robbed of sacredness?”

This is a great view in my opinion and leads to some great questions that you can ask yourself. What do you want your kisses to mean? Do you want to just give them to anyone? Do you want to save your kisses? A kiss is something special to be shared with someone you truly care about. It should be with someone who you admire, get along with, share the same standards with, and have an emotional/intellectual connection with as well...not just physical.

In the article "Speaking of Kissing" in the June 2001 New Era, seminary teacher Bruce Monson shared:

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.
So I encourage you to spend some time thinking about what you want your kisses to mean and who you want to share them with. Maybe you'll find that putting an age on kissing isn't really the right approach, but maybe it's deciding to wait until the appropriate time and with the right person, keeping in mind that kissing is sacred and meaningful.

How Much Kissing Is Too Much?

The topic of kissing requires you to change your perspective a bit. The world would want you to think, "How far can I go without getting into trouble?" but the Lord wants us to think more along the lines of, "How can I keep myself pure?" 

I know I'm being repetitive, but remember that the world makes us think that physical affection is the purpose of a relationship. However, we need to be VERY careful not to follow this thinking. In the February 1971 New Era, Lowell L. Bennion shared great insight on this question of "How much kissing is too much?": 

Granted [physical affection] 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 kissing—or in other words, 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.

Now, 1971 might seem a little out-of-date for you, but really in the past 50 years the world has become more and more focused on the physical affections in relationships in movies, magazines, books, media, and more, so I actually think it's even more important today to remind ourselves of the importance of being "discriminating and self-controlled" as Brother Bennion stated.

In For the Strength of Youth you'll find inspired guidelines about sexual purity. Now I know you're thinking, "WHOA WHOA WHOA! All I asked about it how much kissing is okay? Not anything about sexual purity! Why are you bringing this up?!?!"

Kissing is a physical expression that, as Brother Bennion pointed out, can invite more and more because of it's stimulating nature. That's why it's SO important to be careful in how much kissing you participate in.

One of the specific guidelines in the FTSOY about kissing is "do not participate in passionate kissing." Each of us may have a different interpretation of what passionate means, but in my opinion it means something along the lines of lust instead of love, and physical instead of emotional. So it's a very slippery slope if you're trying to see how much kissing you can get away with.

As you contemplate how much kissing is okay for you, I encourage you to read about sexual purity in  For the Strength of Youth and ask Heavenly Father for guidance. Remember that He wants you to remain pure and clean, reserving all intimacy for marriage with your future husband. Not so that you won't have any "fun" while dating but so that you'll find be prepared for the temple and the happiness that comes by following God's commandments.

How Do I Know What My Date Expects Concerning Kissing?

One of the wonderful aspects of dating is that you learn how to communicate with a boy. They speak a completely different language than us girls (if you hadn't noticed!) and so it takes time to learn how to socially interact with them on a date. Many falsely believe that to "communicate" or show a boy that you like them means that you need to hold their hand, kiss them, etc.

Communicating your interest can come in so many forms besides kissing - giving them your attention, talking on the phone, telling them you had fun at the football game with them, etc. The possibilities are endless.

The first thing you need to do is contemplate the questions above of "What do I want my kisses to mean?" and "Who do I want to share them with?" If you know where you stand on the subject beforehand, then it will be easier to communicate those boundaries on a date.

I want to share sort of a lengthy story from a young man, but one that I found applied perfectly to this topic and can help us see why knowing what our own expectations are can help us in dealing with a date who may have differing ones:

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.

The young woman in the story knew what her expectations were with kissing. And even though at first there was a miscommunication since he thought kissing was simply a way to say "thank you" and she did not, it turned out to be an opportunity for the young man to reflect on his view of kissing and what he wanted his kisses to mean in the future.  (Story from "Speaking of Kissing" June 2001 New Era)

So like that story, you might find yourself standing at the doorstep and not sure what the young man expects. And that's okay. Stand firm to what you have chosen as your boundary - whether it's a handshake, a high five, a hug, or whatever. A young man who is trying live a pure and worthy just as yourself will not judge you for living such high standards.

If the young man does not hold the same boundary as you, follow the Spirit to know how to handle the situation. Maybe you'll have to turn your head as in the story above or maybe you'll need to politely tell him what your thoughts are about kissing.

Another perspective on this idea comes from John Bytheway in the October 2004 New Era:

One young woman allowed a young man to kiss her and later discovered that he had also kissed someone else he was dating. She felt betrayed. Why? Because his expressions of affection didn’t carry the level of commitment she thought they did. This kind of miscommunication often leads to hurt feelings and tears. 

This again shows us that a young man may not have the same ideas as you do about kissing, communication, or affection and can lead to sorrow. So do all you can on your part to study and follow the counsel from our church leaders and pray to have the Spirit with you in those moments of uncertainity.

Why Are There So Many "Rules" About Kissing?

You might feel surrounded by rules - the Do's and Don'ts of kissing - and it might seem frustrating at times. Your parents may have rules or your church leaders have shared their thoughts on kissing. Or maybe some of your friends have rules they follow. Why do people care so much about a little kiss?

Well it's because a little kiss can easily lead to more and then get out of hand, becoming more than we meant it to be. In the January 2001 New Era President Gordon B. Hinckley is quoted:

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.

Honestly, there aren't a lot of "rules" laid out in For the Strength of Youth about kissing specifically but the guidelines of sexual purity are shared in regards to avoiding situations and temptations that could lead to sexual transgression. To help us keep that "powder keg" under control as President Hinckley said.

Our sexual purity is important because our Heavenly Father has shared with us in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that "The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." This is God's plan, to create families under that proper union of a husband and wife.

Elder Bednar taught that "obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity." April 2013 General Conference

There are "rules" and guidelines because Heavenly Father loves YOU. He wants you to be happy - here on earth and throughout eternity. And He knows, better than anyone, what path we need to take to find that true happiness.

And where the rules don't seem certain enough or don't give you a specific guideline to follow, the Lord trusts you to follow the Spirit and seek for personal guidance through study and prayer. You are a daughter of God who can "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

No comments:

Post a Comment