It was a cold, snowy morning as the retreat began. The priest opened in prayer and then asked if anyone wanted to go to confession. Without so much as a second thought or a chance for my heart to beat, I raised my hand and followed him excitedly to the make-shift confessional. I sat down as he began the prayers and the routine I’ve come to know so well. “Bless my Father, for I have sinned…yet again.” I know how this routine goes, it is the same old sin that I’m so tired of confessing but enjoy so much in the moment. “Yes, Father, I pushed the lines of purity with that guy I was dating, past tense. And I feel like crap about it.” In my head I just wanted to hear those words of forgiveness so that I could leave the confessional and move on with my life…and probably fall prey to the same old sins. Clearly, God had something else in store for me that day.
That was a confession unlike any other. A confession so amazing, so powerful, so life changing, that I came right out of the confessional, grabbed my phone and tweeted: “CONFESSION!! There is nothing so powerful as coming face to face with your sins before Christ and encountering His mercy.” I walked into that make-shift confessional seeking forgiveness because I knew that’s where I find it. I wanted to hear the words and move on. I left that confessional a changed and freed woman, in more ways than I realized…
Ever since that cold April morning I’ve looked back on that confession with joy and hope. I knew that I’d been freed and that God used that priest to challenge my way of thinking. That confession is one of those moments I think I’ll look back on ten years from now and still marvel at what God started, even though all I was seeking was the same forgiveness I’d come to take advantage of.
I walked in, sat down and confessed my laundry list of sins to the priest. Thanks be to God the priest zeroed in on the sin I was actually the most annoyed about. It kept happening. Those lines of purity get blurry when the passions get engaged. But what’s a girl to do with a guy that cute? The priest challenged me, he called me out on the mat and let me answer for myself. He asked me what my goal was with kissing. Every created thing under the sun has a purpose, so what was mine in kissing these gents? How far was I taking these kisses? Perhaps even more pointedly, he asked me even if I wasn’t being turned on by these kisses, was I really naïve enough to think that they weren’t being turned on by my kisses? A holy slap in the face and I was forever changed.
I left that confessional a changed woman. I resolved that day to change the way I looked at kissing, and determined that I needed to hold off on kissing in my next relationship. After all, I want my kisses to mean something, to say something profound and real, not just something fleeting and habitual. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy kissing just as much as the next girl, so this was a radical place to be, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was leading me here. So I took it to prayer and asked God how long I should delay kissing for in my next relationship. A month? A year? Until we got engaged? Married? I prayed and had no real answer…
In a beautiful gift that came from God, one night I had my answer. No kissing until marriage. To some, perhaps even most, that sounds crazy. Believe you me, I was in that camp for a long, long time. How could someone date someone else and not kiss? The idea just sounded preposterous…until it didn’t. What started from a place of fear (of crossing the line yet again and needing to confess that same stupid sin one more time) ended up in a place of beauty. There is still an element of chastity to it, but it has grown to more, this not kissing thing. It has become a breath of fresh air after feeling like I’ve been drowning, a drink of cool water as I’m nearing the point of death on the desert floor. Not kissing is like coming home to the realization that it is possible to fall for someone for who they are, not merely the way their kisses make me feel. You see, pushing those lines and testing those boundaries left me insecure and even ashamed. Not kissing leaves me more at peace and doesn’t lead me to make my home in the confessional. Not kissing elevates each little brush of the arm, or hand-holding in a crowded room. Each touch, each glance means more. In some sense I imagine it is like being blind – your other senses are heightened and more focused. When it comes to dating, my heart, my head, and my prayers are more intentional than ever before. Instead of fearing for a sense of chastity, I’m freer and more able to trust my heart to God, rather than try to take control of relationships and hold on because some line has been crossed.
I left the confessional that day freed from my sin. I sit here today more secure than I’ve perhaps ever been. There are far less lines to be blurred (because even when you aren’t kissing, there are still physical temptations), and far more freedom and holy, intellectual conversations to be enjoyed. I can relax and laugh with far less sense of dread that the shame and the sin will come to haunt me. Not kissing opens up doors and freedom within a relationship to truly get to know someone without being as clouded by raging passions.
Not kissing is a choice, and it is a difficult one. I look at engagement pictures of my friends and realize that I won’t have those cute kissing pictures with my fiancé someday. Heck, maybe our first kiss on our wedding day will look awkward as all get out. But at the end of the day, I don’t really care about the pictures. I care about the man who will stand next to me, who will share that kiss with me before God and our families, and who will stand beside me for the rest of my life. I care about dying to my own desire for kissing and rising to God’s plan (which is far deeper and bigger than mine) for true and lasting love. I care about freedom, about meaning every single kiss. I care about loving in imitation of Christ’s love, by laying down my own desires for the good of my spouse…and everyone else that may come before him. The reality is that if I’m not willing to say I love you with my words and actions (as holy and pure as they can be) and mean it, then I have no business saying I love you with my kisses. I care about love, true, faithful, passionate, holy love.