Is it wrong to make out with someone? Everyone I talk to gives me a different answer.

When it comes to sins of impurity, many people think, “If it’s a mortal sin, then I don’t want to do it. But if it’s a venial sin, then I don’t want to miss it!” We need to drop this minimalist idea that focuses on how much we can get away with before we offend God. Even the smallest sin divides, while purity ignites true love. Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her book Passion and Purity, “How shall I speak of a few careless kisses to a generation nurtured on the assumption that nearly everybody goes to bed with everybody? Of those who flounder in the sea of permissiveness and self-indulgence, are there any who still search the sky for the beacon of purity? If I did not believe there were, I would not bother to write.”[1]

I used to take for granted that everyone knew that making out is sexually arousing, especially for a guy. But I have met women who act surprised when they find out that a man is sexually aroused by passionate kissing (or before then). Making out is deeply unitive, since the penetration of one person into another is part of becoming one with him or her physically. This passionate kissing tells a man’s body that it should prepare for intercourse, and when a man is aroused, generally he is not satisfied until he is relieved.

Therefore, this type of kissing teases the body with desires that cannot be morally satisfied outside of marriage. For the couple that is saving sex for marriage, passionate kissing is like a fifteen-year-old sitting in a car in his driveway, revving up the engine while keeping the car in park because he knows he does not have the license to drive.

I believe that the moral problem with making out is harder for girls to understand, because they tend to be aroused sexually in a more gradual way than guys. If a woman’s arousal could be compared to an iron heating up, a guy’s could be compared to a light bulb. Sensual reactions in guys tend to be more immediate, and when the flame of sexual arousal is ignited, a man often wants to go further.

He might be content for some time with just kissing. But when a couple have passionate make-out sessions and try to draw the line there, one of two things will eventually happen: either the original boundaries will disappear, or frustration will set in. In the one case, sexual arousal will become routine, and the couple will begin to justify new forms of physical intimacy. Perhaps they will stop the first, second, or third time, but gradually the old boundaries will be pushed back because they begin to experience the intoxicating bonding power that God has in store for couples in marriage.

Otherwise, one of them may end up hearing the same thing this girl did: “My boyfriend and I don’t go any further than making out, but recently he said to me after we were kissing, ‘Don’t you ever just get . . . bored?”’

I often receive e-mails from abstinent couples who say that they really love each other and want to stay pure, but they keep falling again and again into the same sexual sins. They have stirred up that desire, and they are finding that such desires are not easily tamed once they are awakened. These couples want to sit on the fence and keep some sexual intimacy while avoiding going “too far.” But they’re realizing that men and women are not made to work that way. Angelic purity is easier to live out than 50 percent purity, because you’re not constantly teasing yourself.

Nevertheless, some say that passionate make-out sessions are no big deal and they don’t mean anything. But isn’t there something in you that wants it to be a big deal? The more of ourselves we give away, the less we value the gift of our body and our entire self (and people will respond by treating us with less respect as well).

Ask yourself what your kisses are worth. Are they a way to repay a guy for a nice evening? Are they a solution to boredom on a date? Are they a way to cover up hurts or loneliness? Even worse, are they merely for “harmless” fun? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we have forgotten the purpose of a kiss and the meaning of intimacy. So do not segregate parts of your sexuality as “no big deal.” Your entire body is an infinitely big deal, and this includes your kisses. If we realize this, the simplest of kisses becomes priceless and brings more closeness and joy than 100 one-night stands.

What happens to the unsuspecting teen is that the initial intimacy and excitement of a kiss is worn thin when he or she begins to give it away as if it’s a handshake. The profound meaning and depth of simple acts of affection are slowly lost. The world would like to tell us that we’re acquiring better dating skills, but we’re really just numbing ourselves.

So before you go there again, consider saving the passion for your bride or groom. Not only will your purity be a gift to your spouse, but it will make his or her affection seem more unique to you as well. In the long run this will bond the two of you much closer than all the “experience” the world recommends you have before marriage.

In high school, I didn’t think twice about this kind of kissing. I figured that other people were doing worse things, so it wasn’t that big a deal. Now I wish I had reserved such kisses for my bride, instead of dispensing them to girls I never saw again after graduation. But at the time I didn’t think about the future. I just looked at the classmates around me and figured that this was the way life was supposed to be. When my relationships matured and deepened and I began taking them to prayer, I gave up this kind of kissing because it would always ignite the desire to go further. It was also pushing other aspects of the relationship to the side. I knew in my heart that I could not say with confidence that this kind of intimacy was pleasing to God.

So I had a talk with a girlfriend at the outset of a relationship, and we agreed to sacrifice that. This was a huge blessing, and I was immediately able to see that the relationship was more holy and joyful. We were not perfect, but I saw for the first time that the more passionate kissing there was in my relationships, the less there was of everything else. This was not something I could understand until I gave it up.

I encourage you to give it a shot. Give up passionate kissing until you are married. Keep the affection simple. If you have a difficult time accepting this, then have the honesty to ask yourself why. If you could not make out with your boyfriend, would that hinder your ability to love him? Would not being able to kiss your girlfriend in this way hinder your ability to glorify God or to lead her to heaven? How much are our intentions directed toward our gratification, and how much to God’s glorification?

Simply put, sexual morality is about glorifying God with your body. The way you use your sexuality should reflect your love for God and should express the love of God to others. If an area seems gray, then do not go there. Do only those things that you confidently know glorify God.

If you struggle with this issue, take it to prayer. If you truly wish to know the will of God as it relates to purity, I know he will show you. You just have to sit still long enough to listen. Sure, this is difficult, but love is willing to sacrifice big things as well as small ones for the good of the beloved.

More and more often I hear of couples who save their first kiss for the wedding day. At first this sounded crazy to me, but then I noticed that they were not giving up kissing on the lips because it was evil or because they could not control themselves but because they cherished a simple kiss so much that they wanted God and the world to witness their first one. Their first kiss could be offered as a prayer.

With all this having been said, we should not be stuck on how close we can get to sin. When our hearts are right with God, we are concerned with what is truly pure and how we can glorify God with our bodies. We want every act of affection to be a reflection of the fact that he is first in our lives. Until that is the case, then we’ll have a terribly hard time discerning love from lust.

[1]. Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell, 1984), 131.

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