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Q&A: Saving the First Kiss

Is it wise for parents to set an ‘unrealistic’ standard for their children?

By Dennis and Barbara Rainey

I’ve heard about some Christians urging their children to save their first kiss for a wedding kiss. That’s seems pretty unrealistic to me. What do you think of this?

Dennis: I do think it’s unrealistic. But I would ask a parent, “Okay, given the nature of the culture, how low would you slide the goal in order for it to be realistic?”

It seems to me what God has called us to is not what is realistic or unrealistic but what is biblical. Saving a first kiss until the wedding kiss is not a biblical issue. Instead, the Bible tells us as parents that we are to protect the moral purity of our children and help them make wise choices as they protect their hearts from anything that might lead them to experiment with sex before they get married.

Barbara: I think part of the problem for parents is that they have this idealized picture of junior high, high school, and college relationships. They want their kids to be able to go to all the dances and have dates and do all these fun things that are part of growing up. They don’t want to deny their children these pleasures, and that may include some physical contact they think is perfectly innocent. On the surface this looks harmless, but too many parents don’t realize that their children will have a very difficult time stopping there.

Dennis: What is a realistic standard to challenge your children with? It seems to me that when young people begin to kiss, this often stirs their emotions, passions, and sexual desires. The question I’ve asked young people is “At what point does a casual kiss between a boy and a girl become a sexually demanding kiss?” My answer is, “It’s in a nanosecond.”

Where do you draw the line? Do you challenge them to draw the line in the middle of the kiss before the nanosecond occurs and before the casual kiss turns into a passionate kiss? Or do you challenge them to avoid that circumstance that would take you into the sexual passion in the first place?

Barbara: Most teenagers I know do not tell their boyfriend or girlfriend, “I’m just looking forward to a nice casual kiss with you that doesn’t arouse any passions.” They don’t know the difference.

You challenged your children with this standard. Did they roll their eyes when you talked with them about it?

Barbara: Yes, initially they did. Their peers would have said we were clearly out of touch because it is not what is practiced. In junior high and high school everyone is paired up all the time. It is standard operating procedure for boyfriends and girlfriends to hang all over one another.

Dennis: It’s also important to note that we were not legalistic with our children. We did not set down hard rules and make grave threats about what would happen if they didn’t meet this “wedding kiss challenge.” We simply challenged them with a high standard. What they did was up to them, but as their parents helped them think through the standard they chose.

This standard could be likened to training for an Olympic gold medal. An athlete will make all kinds of sacrifices in order to reach his goal. This shouldn’t be any different. In order for a goal to be met the child has to “own” it-it must be his goal, not yours. The satisfaction that comes from achieving that goal on your wedding day would be enormous because you have accomplished something that’s rare and unusual in our culture.

Copyright © by FamilyLife. Used with permission.

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