No kissing before marriage – wacky or wise?

Posted: November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

My husband and I have been married for just over a year but some Christians believe that the sort of ‘solo dating’ we took part in prior to our wedding day is to be discouraged and frowned upon.  But what is it that we were doing wrong?

Before walking down the aisle we enjoyed one another’s company either on our own or with others.  We would sit in coffee shops chatting about our hopes for the future, take walks along the river, pray together or join our friends at Christian conferences.  From the start we agreed to a few guidelines for our pre-marital state, drawing on the wisdom of those we’d heard speak about this season of relationship – overall our aim was to keep God at the centre during this period of time.  I was surprised to learn that in some circles our behaviour would be seen as inappropriate because only group dates or accompanied ones are viewed as acceptable prior to marriage.

Far from being a fringe opinion held by a few strict parents to prevent their youngsters getting pregnant out of wedlock, it seems that the idea of group dating is held to be best practise in a number of Church communities, particularly in America.  If there is need for a couple to meet away from the crowd (perhaps to discuss marriage?) then it is expected that either a parent or responsible Church adult be in tow.

There is alot of negativity surrounding the concept of dating among American Christians with slogans such as ‘dating may cause heartbreak’ being used, but I have realised that their culture of ‘boy meet girl’ is vastly different from the British one.  Our approach to dating is probably more akin to what those in the States might refer to as ‘courtship’, namely that if a couple are dating they choose to be exclusive (not seeing multiple people at once), attempting to discern whether they are to be marriage partners in future or not.

Over the years I have heard stories of those who chose to save their first kiss for their wedding day, and of others who got engaged just a few weeks after meeting one another.  Some Christians say that it is a beautiful sign of commitment, love and purity to save your first kiss while others laugh it off as idiotic.  Some would call it irresponsible to get engaged too quickly while others would say that dating for too long can be unhealthy, yet both sides would profess to be Christian.  These tales serve as a reminder that every Christian couple is different.  Is it therefore possible to have one set of baseline ‘rules’ for everyone or could Churches simply offer guidelines to safeguard their congregations and then allow them to adapt the suggestions according to their circumstances?

I opened up the question of dating guidelines to the female listeners of the radio show I host and have summarised/compacted/edited their thoughts into ten points below.  Are these suggestions wacky or wise?

A Christian Woman’s Guide to Dating:

1. Stick to enjoying one another’s company in places where no overnight stay is required. Going on holiday just the two of you could place you in a compromising situation and also might not serve as the best witness if you are hanging out in one another’s rooms.  Single room supplements are expensive anyway!  If you really want to holiday together then find a group to go with, ideally made up of some single people so that it doesn’t get really coupley.

2. If you are alone together in a home or even if there are others around, then to protect yourselves from being too close physically keep the door open at all time regardless of which room you are in – it doesn’t matter whether you are in the kitchen or the bedroom, the same principle applies. (Some also suggested that you never lie down together anywhere.)

3. If kissing is full on then it can be unhelpful, so show respect to your potential future spouse by limiting physical expressions of love.  You will have all the time in the world to express yourself physically after marriage so ditch the ‘try before you buy’ mentality.

4. Hold off any physical expression of love for the first few months of dating.  Often a relationship gets clouded by and guided by the physical so focus on learning about each other without that distraction so as to build a healthy foundation.  If you break up after a couple of months there will be less heartache if you have not been physically connected.

5. Pray together.  If you can’t pray together when dating and offer your relationship to God then there’s not much hope you’ll do it when married.  Let God be the glue.

6. Be confident that God has the perfect husband (or wife) for you.  That way you won’t get tempted to date someone for the sake of it out of fear that no one else will come along.  This could mean that you avoid marrying someone who is second best and not quite right for you.  Be patient – easier said than done though!

7. Pray for your future spouse even while single and know that if you haven’t been asked out by someone yet it’s not because there is something wrong with you, God is just preserving you for the right person.

8. It is ok to dress to impress, particularly if you are a woman, but please cover up.  Eventually you’ll get wrinkles and sag, so if the relationship is founded largely on physical attraction what will hold you together when you are old? You want a man to date you and marry you for who you are inside not because you reveal too much cleavage, shoulder and leg, inticing him physically.

9. Introduce one another to your friends.  Living in an isolated bubble can go horribly wrong.  You want your future spouse to get on with your friends, but also if the relationship doesn’t work out you need your friends to support you, so if you neglect them and spend all the time with your dating partner you could come unstuck.

10. If you are pretty messed up at the moment it’s probably not the best time to get into a relationship.  Let God sort you out a bit rather than thinking a relationship will fix you.  To be a gift to another person requires getting as whole as you can be so you can be a blessing rather than a burden.  Only God can meet your needs, a man cannot!

So there you have it, all the suggestions rolled into ten top tips.  What do you make of the listeners’ ideas?

© Maria Rodrigues-Toth

  1. I find the idea that a young engaged Christian couple can NEVER be trusted to be alone with each other (even in a public place!) really bizarre! A couple needs alone time to bond – having friends or a family member constantly there changes the way you relate to one another. And I think most people can be trusted to act appropriately as long as they don’t put themselves in compromising situations. Great, sensible advice from your listeners!

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