I S S I N G
WINFRID HERBST, S.D.S.
This is a
question we have often been asked during our years of pleasant
association with young people. Here we merely give a concise
summary on the subject of kissing; later we shall elaborate on
between kissing and kissing. Rather, let us say that there are
four categories of kisses:
Kisses that are merely a sacred and lovely symbol used to express
deep and beautiful emotion and are not, of course, sinful; the
mutual kisses of mother and child; the mutual kisses of husband
and wife; the kisses imprinted on a sacred object, such as the
Bible, the crucifix, the ring of a bishop, the relic of a saint,
the altar, the hand of a priest, etc.; Kisses imprinted on some
dear object, such as the flag of one’s country, the soil of one’s
native land, the hand of a benefactor, etc., etc.
Non-passionate kisses — that is, those which are of such a nature
as not to arouse the passions of a normal person — are not sinful
in themselves, though they may easily prepare the way for passionate
kisses, especially when indulged in by young persons of the opposite
sex. In such kisses real affection is felt but there is normally
no exciting of the passions. A kiss of this type is not sinful
at all, even if it be exchanged between a young lady and her gentleman
friend. The engaged, in order to foster their mutual love, may
make use of the non-passionate kiss and embrace; but they must
remember that continual hugging and kissing, even of the non-passionate
type, may readily bring on serious temptations, and so should
Kissing for the thrill of it, because of the excitement (non-venereal)
produced by "an increase of pulse and respiration which causes
a feeling of exhilaration" is not in itself sinful, if there
is no reaction of the organs of generation; but such kisses, in
certain circumstances, easily prove a source of danger because
they prepare the way for arousing the passions. Kissing in a
spirit of mischievousness, a stolen kiss, for instance, or forcing
a kiss on a girl who resists, or kissing just because of the novelty
of the act, is hardly a sin against the sixth commandment, but
may offend against the virtue of charity.
Passionate kissing, just because intense or passionate, stirs
up venereal pleasure and is forbidden under pain of serious sin.
Kisses not at first passionate, ordinarily become so if prolonged
for some time, so that really prolonged kissing is classified
as passionate. In short, all kissing to arouse venereal pleasure
is gravely sinful because of the intention. There is no slightest
doubt in the mind of any decent man or woman that kissing between
unmarried people becomes sinful when passion takes over. Any
normal person is fully aware that under certain circumstances
passion was meant by nature to take over. The kiss was by God
and nature intended to make men and women grow passionately excited.
The kiss is under those conditions the normal and natural prelude
to physical union. We cannot say in general, then, that kissing
is sinful or not sinful. We must take each case as it is.
think you are too severe in your views about kissing, as expressed
in replies given from time to time. (See following pages.)
our views about kissing, they are really not ours. In all our
replies we merely give, sometimes verbatim and sometimes in our
own words, the teachings of moral theology and of those who are
competent to write on the subject. And almost invariably we purposely
seek the less severe views on this subject of perennial interest.
When we received
this query, we looked over the pamphlet rack in a church where
we happened to be and found three booklets on purity, all with
ecclesiastical approbation and the oldest dated 1936. We give
an extract from each, about kissing chiefly:
every kiss or embrace between company-keepers is a sin, but they
easily lead to what is sinful. Necking and petting should never
be indulged in by those who wish to remain virtuous. "Of
all the youth who go to parties, attend dances, and ride together
in automobiles, more than ninety per cent indulge in hugging and
kissing," says Judge Lindsey of Denver. His long and intimate
experience with youth well qualifies him to speak. "Fifty
per cent of the original ninety per cent indulge in half-way sex
intimacies that wreck the health and morals alike . . . fifteen
to twenty-five per cent of those who begin with hugging and kissing,
eventually "go the limit", continues the Judge.
second great danger of cradle courtships is that of immorality
— passionate petting, kissing, parking in an automobile in lovers’
lanes and the like. When curiosity is strong in any department
of the mind, experiments are likely to be set up to dissolve that
curiosity. And constant, close companionship between boys and
girls in courtship right at the time when curiosity about sex
is strongest, is bound to bring the less disciplined into trouble."
is true that not every kiss or embrace between those keeping company
is a sin. If it is not prolonged or passionate, and is not accompanied
by any immodesty, it is not sinful, but even then it can produce
a strong tendency towards evil that must be seriously resisted.
What is called ‘necking’ or ‘petting’ or ‘soul-kissing’, etc.,
is forbidden because such conduct is intimately bound up with,
or inevitably leads to, indulgence in forbidden pleasure."
about kissing? Will you kindly explain why it is so dangerous
and all that?
A woman has
written the following article on a subject that is of interest
to young men as well as to young women and it is so sensible,
so clear, so instructive, that it deserves to be widely circulated:
a great many letters from young girls who want to know what they
shall do about the kissing proposition. They say that it is practically
a case of no kiss, no beau, for the young men who take them about
demand a good-night kiss as pay for their courtesies, and if they
refuse, it is, indeed, goodnight, in the slang phrase for they
never see these osculatory youths again.
the innate modesty and delicacy of those girls revolt at yielding
their lips to men to whom they are not even engaged; to men who
do not even pretend to be in love with them. It violates their
sense of what is proper, but, at the same time, they do not want
to be regarded as prudes or Puritans. Still less do they desire
to be wall flowers left out of all the fun and parties, and numbered
with those forlorn damsels who never have any attention from men.
the girl is torn between her instinctive sense of what is right
and her knowledge of expediency, and she wants to know what she
shall do and how she shall answer the eternal argument of man
when he is trying to persuade a woman into doing the thing that
he knows she should not do. To kiss or not to kiss, that’s the
question that troubles her.
can be but one answer to give a girl to this problem. It is no,
no, no! A maiden’s lips should be kept inviolate, and the first
man’s kiss that is pressed upon them should be the kiss of love
from the man she expects to marry. For a girl to give her lips
to every Tom, Dick and Harry who takes her to a moving picture
show or escorts her home from a dance is something unthinkable....
is a pity that girls can never be made to realize that the most
alluring and attractive thing about them is the aura of innocence
and unsophistication that surrounds them. It is the whiteness,
the untrodden snowness of their souls that is their chief charm,
and they never make so fatal a mistake as when they throw this
girls were only wise enough to realize how fascinating aloofness
is, and what an appeal unsullied purity makes to the masculine
imagination, they would keep every man at arm’s length at least
until he had come out and popped the question. They would not
think for a minute of putting up with cheap familiarities from
men that rob them of their freshness and make them little shop-worn
bits of humanity that have been pawed over like the goods on a
bargain table. Girls should never forget that it is the shy and
shrinking violet that is man’s favourite flower not the brazen
girl correspondent says that she does not know how to answer a
man when he begs her to kiss him and tells her that there is no
harm in it, and that his arguments make her feel foolish because
she seems to be making a great ado over very little matter. There
is one answer that every girl can make to a man’s request for
can ask him if he would like his sister to kiss any man goodnight
who happened to call on her. She can ask him what he would advise
his sister to do if his sister were in her place. And she can
ask him if he would like to think that the girl that he is going
to marry some day had kissed a hundred men who were mere casual
questions will make any decent man writhe. A man will tell his
own sister quickly enough what he thinks on the subject and his
own lips would grow cold and stiff on his sweetheart’s if he remembered
that her soft young mouth had belonged to a long procession of
men before him. "Girls can never bear in mind too constantly
the fact that not all men play fair with women, and that men are
not always just or logical in judging them. A man might spend
hours, days and months persuading a girl to do something that
is wrong, and have a contempt for her ever afterwards for yielding
to him. He will argue down her every instinct and scruple and
principle against kissing him, and the minute she does he will
lose his reverence for her as for something utterly fine and delicate....
should also bear in mind that a wedding ring on the hand is worth
a basket of them in the dim distance, and that the girls who have
the most beaux generally get the fewest and the poorest makeshifts
of husbands. A girl observes that those girls who are free and
easy in their manners, who exact no sort of respect from men and
permit them to indulge in familiarities and take liberties with
them, girls who drink and smoke with men, and listen to and tell
off-coloured stories, girls who are good sports — these girls
are what we call popular, and are generally surrounded by a horde
of men. Especially while they are young and good looking, and
full of high spirits.
what the girl does not notice is that this type of young girl
very seldom marries, and when she does she almost invariably marries
a crooked stick who wasn’t worth picking up. The fast girl, the
girl without modesty or delicate womanly reserve, may be the kind
of a girl that men like to play with, but she isn’t the sort of
woman that they want for a wife and for the mother of their children.
is why you are so often surprised at the marriages that men make.
Men whom you have known of as gay rounders bob up with a wife
who is a Sunday school teacher. Men who have been noted chorus
girl chasers go to some country village and marry girls who never
saw a brighter lamp than a kerosene lamp. They don’t want the
lips on which a thousand kisses have rained. They want the lips
that have never been kissed at all.
don’t be misled, girls, into making the mistake of believing that
because a man asks you to kiss him it is any indication of his
being in love with you. A kiss is no guarantee of affection.
Judas betrayed his Lord with a kiss, and every black-hearted traitor
of a man who ever betrayed the faith of an innocent and trusting
young girl began his devil’s work in the same way, with a kiss.
primrose path that leads to perdition for women is paved with
the kisses of men. The thing that no money could have hired them
to do, that no argument could have persuaded them to do, they
have been kissed into doing. For it is no flight of the poet’s
fancy when he speaks about women being made drunk on kisses.
It is a literal fact, and that is why no girl is safe who permits
men to kiss her."
a girl be too strict as regards kisses, caresses, and other familiarities
with the young man she is keeping company with?
all, there is a big general rule for company keeping. Such things
as holding one another’s hands, sitting on one another’s lap,
kissing, caressing, fondling, embracing, and other familiarities
are very dangerous. Such actions work slyly though directly on
the nerves of the body and render them morbidly sensitive; they
arouse emotions and passions that are anything but proper, and
waken and stimulate thoughts, instincts, feelings, desires and,
but too often, even actions that are positively indecent. It
is a clear case of leading oneself into serious temptations, which
frequently end in a fall. That is why these things are usually
sinful, that is why there is no truth in the assertion: "There
is no harm in it." Now, that is, the big, general rule.
That is why
it is clear that no girl can be too strict in these things. If
a young man is dissatisfied with the maidenly modesty and prudence
of a good girl and insists upon tokens of affection of the kind
mentioned above and will break off his friendship if he does not
get them, then simply let him go. The true Christian gentleman
will admire and love a girl all the more for her firm stand in
matters of modesty. And such a one will be an ideal husband.
It is perfectly right for you to be very strict. May God bless
such girls! They are truly wise.
a young man is keeping company with a girl with the intention
of marriage does he do wrong in kissing her? Is it a mortal sin
to kiss in a passionate way when keeping company? When is a kiss
a sin and when is it not?
are engaged to be married may exchange respectable marks of affection
and love, in a moderate degree. A modest kiss is one such mark
of affection. But it must remain modest, and must not become
willfully passionate and sensual and, hence, grievously sinful.
It will easily become thus sinful, if repeated often at the same
meeting. One friendly and pure goodnight kiss is not dangerous
for engaged couples. But it ought to be sufficient. The passionate
and lingering kiss, or the so-called soul kiss between lovers,
is a mortal sin, because it offers the occasion and inducement
to grievous sensual emotions and gratifications.
to the question as to when kissing is sinful and when it is not,
it may, in general, be said that whatever conduct exposes you
or your partner to the proximate danger of yielding to impurity
in thought, desire, feeling, or action is a mortal sin. And if
you say that passionate kisses do not involve this danger for
you or your companion, you are grossly deceiving yourself. Such
an assertion makes one think of a dulled conscience and a blinded
soul. Incipient or advanced lovers who are not yet engaged to
be married should not at all indulge in kissing and similar demonstrations
of intimate and ardent love since their relations are not close
enough to warrant it. If they embark at so early a stage upon
these amorous practices, there is every danger that they will
proceed from what appears innocent and modest to what they know
is not, and the magnitude of the harm and disaster that will ensue
to both parties will probably outrun all their calculations.
that the above gives principles that will enable you to act rightly
in all circumstances that may arise. We add, however, as a serious
warning, that, though there may be some who have no evil thoughts
or desires whatsoever in kissing and petting, they may be the
occasion of gross sins of immoral thoughts, desires, and emotions
to their partners. Remember this safe and simple rule: "Never
do anything, when the two of you are alone, which you would be
ashamed to do in the presence of your parents; or which you would
be ashamed to reveal to your parents."
it a sin to give a boy friend a good night kiss after you have
spent a pleasant evening together?
upon many things. If it is a pure, modest, friendly, passing
kiss and does not give rise in either party to impure thoughts,
desires, or feelings that are consented to, it is not a sin.
But those who are not yet engaged to be married should not indulge
at all in kissing or in similar demonstrations of intimate love.
Don’t, don’t! It is dangerous. Protect yourself and the young
man you love by refraining from all undue familiarities. If not
sinful now, it may soon become so and lead to harm and disaster
that will outrun all your calculations. Don’t! A young man with
the proper sense of virtue and honour will always respect his
friend’s concern for her modesty and innocence as manifested in
the observance of this important "Don’t!" He will love
her all the more for it. He will look upon her declining even
"a mere kiss" as a convincing sign of her great shyness
and fear of being gradually beguiled into the loss of what she
considers — and what he also considers — her greatest treasure.
Be sure of this: a girl who is easy and ready to grant unmaidenly
privileges to a young man loses just that much of his respect
and rightly so. Such a young man will just naturally conclude
that she is ready to lend her lips to anybody who comes along
— and has doubtless already done so. No good Catholic gentleman
wants such a girl.
does a girl refuse a man’s demands for privileges (in dating,
company keeping) and still hold his attention?
to keep in circulation with Catholic fellows. You dread the very
thought of becoming a permanent member of the unmarried ladies’
club. But because of the problem of straying hands and your own
"Hands off" policy, the fellows do not date you any
more. And you have yet to find a suitable and workable answer
to the question asked above.
is not an easy one to answer. True enough, it is easy to say
what a girl should not do. She should never do anything that
is sinful herself or permit anything to be done to her which would
make her accessory to the sin of another. Sin is, the greatest
evil in the world; and not for the whole world and everything
in it may we commit sin.
A girl should
not do what so many girls do in the mad world of today — she should
not sacrifice her womanhood in order to get and hold a man.
prudish a girl can be habitually virtuous. With this habit of
virtue she will ward off advances, refuse kissing and necking,
all as a matter of course, as a matter of good sense and good
taste. She will set standards for the boys of her acquaintance;
and if they do not want to live up to those standards, she will
consider it a good riddance if they betake themselves elsewhere.
She will remember that it is up to the girl to draw the line as
regards petting, etc., and that she can always tell a boy "where
to get off." A chaste girl can make a boy keep hands off,
if she wants to. She knows that "nothing makes a woman more
esteemed by the opposite sex than chastity." She will never
compromise. And if the boy is worth knowing, he will accept her
high standards with respect and admiration.
The boy you
have dated three or four times, let us say, is a friend, but he
does not yet share your heart. So you are perfectly correct in
refusing a kiss, even it is so annoyingly insisted upon. Say
"No" and stick to it. As for parked cars and sun bathing
together, such things are taboo, whether he is the one-and-only
and passions are like sparks within us. Disturb them and you
are liable to get burned. Also, when something is easy to get,
its value soon dwindles and its desirability fades. When a girl’s
kisses are free for the asking, she risks the loss of not only
her own good reputation, but also her charm and appeal. If a
boy demands "necking" as part of the date, he shows
that he has no respect for you. You are just a plaything to him.
Then certainly, he’s not worth dating, is he?
So be independent
of such individuals even if it means week after week without dates
for a while. It is much better to be popular with God than with
men, for God’s love is true and everlasting, with the promise
of eternal reward and happiness. So stay on the "pedestal
of pure womanhood" where God has put you and ignore the techniques
of modern dating. Remember that purity and integrity are a girl’s
most precious possessions. Be a girl with honour, and some day
you will date a very special young man. Like the others, he will
ask for a kiss — as most fellows do — to find out what sort of
a girl you are. When you refuse, this fellow will accept your
decision without question or argument, and in his heart he’ll
be saying, "This is the kind of girl I’ve been looking for,
someone to be proud of. Easy on the eyes, but not easy on the
take." He’ll honour and respect you and learn to love you
for what you are. And you will suddenly discover that he is sharing
your heart, and be glad you kept your little "treasure of
lave" just for him.
advice to us from a girl who has learned a lot through reading
and experience and who is doing much to get other girls to keep
themselves on the "pedestal of pure womanhood" is certainly
instructive. But, you will say, it is again telling you what
not to do and is not solving your problem. Suppose that I will
then be not only without dates for a while, you say, but never
get any date again. Suppose that I then never date Òa very special
young man". Suppose they all pass me by and leave me alone
on that "pedestal of pure womanhood".
suppose it all. Remember that God’s love is everlasting. You’ll
probably escape so much more than you miss. But whatever you
do, refuse to fall in line with the ideas of modern dating in
order to get and keep a boy friend and, as a result, step very
low off your pedestal and cheapen yourself and let yourself be
pawed over and commit sin.
mentioned above that sin is the greatest evil in the world, it
might be well here to quote this striking passage from Newman’s
Apologia: "The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun
and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fall, and for all
the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony,
as far as temporal affliction goes, than one soul, I will not
say, should be lost but should commit one single venial sin, should
tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without
you want to know, and what so many other girls want to know, is
how you can, despite such refusals, hold his attention.
way of still holding his attention, as is implied in the above,
is your very refusal of concessions. If that does not attract
him, then his going is good riddance.
to that primary requisite, the following suggestions may be helpful:
Be charming and pleasant, smart and as well dressed as possible,
clever and attractive. Make virtue attractive and yourself attractive
with it. Everybody knows from bitter experience that high courage
is needed to be consistently good. All admire virtue because
virtue is essentially admirable.
Men, as a rule, are much less willing to marry than are women.
That is why there are, so they say, more Catholic bachelors than
there are Catholic spinsters. Therefore, since most marriages
are brought about by the young woman, when you meet a good Catholic
man whom you think you would like to marry, go about the business
of tactfully, intelligently, and virtuously interesting him and,
after you are sure he is the man for you, subtly persuade him
to believe that he wants to marry you and with chaste and charming
womanly wiles get him to propose to you. Don’t wait for the young
man to take all the steps. Employ the approved and maidenly arts
by which the interest of a man is won. Make the natural and quite
proper overtures to marriage.
Be a good listener. A man wants a good audience. Instead of
chattering so much about your own interests, listen to him with
sympathy, interest, understanding. Encourage him to talk about
his plans, his ambitions, his struggles. Let him feel that from
you he can always get courage and encouragement in breasting the
world. A man wants his future wife to be a good listener, a restful
influence, a centre of peace, an inspiration, an audience.
Occasionally invite the young man to your house and entertain
him for the evening; let him see your home and feel that you can
make his home a centre of peace. Cook him a good meal and serve
it in your home; he will expect you to prepare good meals for
him after you are married. Let him see, too, how delightfully
natural and good you are to your folks at home—and how neat even
when not dressed up.
Go with the man to the places to which he likes to go and do the
things he likes to do. Do not be selfish. Forget your own preferences.
Do not insist that he go to places he does not care to go to or
do things he does not care to do. Sensibly and prudently keep
him from spending too much time and money on you. Still, a certain
generosity towards the girl with whom a man goes out is a good
guarantee of his generosity towards the woman he will marry.
Do things together: walk, ride, go to the movies, attend concerts,
lectures, church; read the same books, cultivate the same hobbies,
etc. Try to find enjoyment in doing things together, simple,
inexpensive, interesting things.
If you remember that the best of human beings are often weak,
men disappoint girls and girls disappoint men and that both men
and women are too often foolish, if you don’t expect perfection
from the man you are going with, you will forgive him if he is
guilty of a frailty or of a venial sin. You will remember that
to err is human, to forgive, divine. Just as we must daily ask
God to forgive us our trespasses, so we also have frequent need
to forgive one another our trespasses. If the wrongs done, even
if they greatly hurt your vanity and convenience, are really at
worst only venial sins, not only forgive them but forget them.
Better still, take practically no notice of them. Do not let
them disturb the course of your friendship. Even a more serious
trespass, if it is but rare, if it is but an occasional lapse
of weakness, had better be gracefully forgiven and forgotten.
If he sinks so low as to do the sort of things that are mortal
sins, sorrowfully but firmly turn away and find someone better.
that unmarried men and women may not deliberately accept or procure
sexual pleasure in any way. It does not make any difference how
common the sin is, how easily it can be committed, how generally
it is done, or how briefly the forbidden act is enjoyed. Deliberate
sexual pleasure has no place in courtship. It is forbidden under
pain of mortal sin. And, let us plainly add, impurity before
marriage not infrequently may engender infidelity after marriage.
this advice to girls some might get the impression that the boys
are a bad lot, that they are always to blame. We do not wish
to give such an impression. As girls must be on their guard,
so, too, the boys must be on their guard as regards the girls.
Just to bring out this point, we quote the following from Dorothy
Fremont Grant’s "SO! You Want to Get Married!" (Milwaukee:
early come to the realization that they have a mysterious ‘power’
over boys. But their exercise of it is often miserably abused.
Deliberately the girl drops her hankie or her compact for the
mere ‘pleasure’ ... of bringing him to her feet so that, at her
leisure, she can give him swift kick. Not without reason are
some boys, and some men, wary of girls and women. Deliberately
the coarse girl will play one boy off against another merely for
the ‘pleasure’ of receiving their competitive offerings for restoration
to her favour. (And, by the way, it is still good form for boys
to confine offerings to flowers, candy, and books!)
deliberately as such foolish girls act I have put the word pleasure
in quotation marks, because this sort of pleasure is illicit and
immoral. It is essentially dishonest, cunning, and cruel. The
little tots would call such a girl ‘a dirty cheat’, and without
exaggeration. This is the girl who deserves to be packed away
on the shelf forever.
is true that by woman’s very nature she does have a ‘power’ over
man, a moral power. The moral tone of society is set by woman,
not by man, because she is the natural guardian of moral virtues;
this is a portion of her high calling. Except by physical force
no woman is involved in an immoral act against her will. Therefore
the standard of conduct between boys and girls is the major
responsibility of the girl. There is a real truth in the
expression, ‘She led him on...’ "
among Catholic high school boys and girls in one city "indicates
that unexplained warnings and verbal ‘don’ts’ fail to convince
the majority of adolescent boys and girls that there is any danger
in what they consider ‘musts’ or routine necessities of any successful
dating system. 22 per cent saw absolutely nothing seriously wrong
in necking and petting, and 24 per cent claimed that such indulgences
are ‘not necessarily’ wrong, while 9 per cent believed that ‘petting
only’ is wrong. From the reasons given to support their judgment
of these actions, it is evident that the average boy and girl
are completely ignorant of the nature of the psychic and physical
factors operating in the sex urge.
the majority saw no need for necking and petting on a date, as
many as 341 seniors considered such behaviour a ‘routine part
of a girl’s relationship with boys.’ Though nearly 100 seniors
considered such behaviour ‘cheap’ and ‘disgusting,’ none of the
1,042 who responded in the negative gave any ethical principles
or moral reasons for their stand. Only one 17-year-old boy came
close to any substantial insight into the problem when he stated:
‘After you go with a girl for a while, you realize this isn’t
the thing that counts’ " (America, July 14, 1951, pp. 377
you think it right for a boy to expect a kiss after a date, as
if it were a reward for taking you out?
a time a good Catholic wrote to me and said, among other things:
when I go out with boys, I don’t care to do the things that some
do. You understand what I mean, don’t you? I mean about parked
cars, shows, etc. Then, about kissing. I do not think it is
really proper for a boy to expect a kiss after about the third
or fourth date, as though this were his reward for taking me out.
I want the boy to have the highest respect and courtesy for womanhood.
Is this the right way of thinking? As for myself, I do not care
to go out with boys any more. I did have the desire to, as is
only natural for a girl, but now I would rather play tennis, volley
ball, etc. Why must there always be that cheapening element in
company keeping? Isn’t it a remote preparation for marriage,
which is truly a beautiful and sacred state?"
l am twenty
years old and am going with a good Catholic boy. I don’t go in
for heavy petting, maybe just a goodnight kiss or one or two more.
Am I right in believing that if no passions or emotions are aroused,
such kissing is considered safe? If the passions or emotions
are noticed in yourself or in the other person and you quit immediately,
is there any sin involved? What sort of sin is involved, if any,
as regards the thoughts and feelings (maybe desires) that go with
some kisses and that sometimes come when you are just out with
a boy or perhaps by yourself? Are these temptations? Or how
can you distinguish? How would you confess these sins?
I right in believing that if no passions or emotions are aroused,
such kissing is considered safe?" It might be possible for
a non-passionate kiss, such as you mention, to be exchanged between
a young lady and her gentleman friend. If so, it is not sinful
at all because, as we are presuming, it is of such a nature as
not to arouse the passions of a normal person. It is this non-passionate
kiss and embrace that the engaged may make use of, very moderately
and briefly and not too frequently lest there be serious temptations,
because in order to foster their mutual love they have a right
to show each other certain marks of this love. But because a
kiss between a man and a woman is a symbol, a sign of deep affection,
and the expression of the man’s and woman’s desire to bind that
affection in marriage, it should rarely be tolerated in the case
of a casual companion. To say goodnight by means of the symbolic
expression which is the pledge of undying love is quite of place.
Don’t! And it is never safe. A kiss begun in friendship can
easily end in passion.
the passions or emotions are noticed in yourself or in the other
person and you quit immediately, is there any sin involved?"
If it was
a non-passionate kiss, as mentioned above, a token of honourable
love, such as may be lawful even between persons of the opposite
sex, and if the kissing was really not done in order to arouse
venereal pleasure, and then you notice passions or emotions in
yourself or in the other person and you quit immediately and do
not consent to such passions and emotions, there may be no sin
involved. But you who are asking are the girl in the case and
are perhaps not aware that the young man is naturally much more
passionate than you who are inclined to be merely affectionate
and distantly maternal. You do not know what is going on in that
young man’s interior. He may be giving willful consent to thoughts,
desires, and even to the most vehement feelings. In that case
he has committed a mortal sin and you co-operated in it. It may
still not be a sin for you, because you never thought that an
innocent goodnight kiss would lead to anything like that.
sort of a sin is involved, if any, as regards the thoughts and
feelings (maybe desires) that go with some kisses, and that sometimes
come when you are just out with a boy or perhaps by yourself?"
If you give
willful consent to such thoughts, feelings, desires, that is,
if you rest in them with content, are glad you have them, make
no effort to banish them but rather entertain them, you commit
a mortal sin. Kissing of a passionate kind which stirs up venereal
pleasure (and really prolonged kissing is classified as passionate)
is forbidden under pain of serious sin. A kiss may be the spark
that will blow up the highly inflammable passions of youth and
start a raging fire that cannot be put out. A man can be rushed
by kisses into brutal things, and a girl can be kissed into anything,
to the lifelong shame, regret and remorse of both and often to
the ruin of the girl besides.
these temptations? Or how can you distinguish? How would you
confess these sins?’
As a learned
author says: "Here it is wise to distinguish between what
is merely a natural phenomenon and what is a temptation. It is
entirely natural for a normal person at given times to experience
carnal imaginations, thoughts, feelings and desires. It would
be a sign of abnormality or constitutional disorder if he did
not experience them. But those experiences are not as yet a temptation
by any means. They become a temptation only when there is added
to them the approach of lust, or the lure to indulge in them unlawfully.
This lust constitutes the temptation. As long as it is not responded
to or dallied with there can be no question of sin, however strong
the natural phenomenon may be."
to avoid doing things that do not at all have to be done and you
know will bring about such temptations. And when the temptations
do come as come they will in spite of everything, quietly resist
them with prayer and attention to other things.
a boy and a girl are keeping company, is it all right for them
to kiss each other?
In his book,
"Those Terrible Teens" (New York: Declan X. McMullen
1947), Father Vincent P. McCorry says some very plain things about
the sign that does not signify. To begin with, he says that if
you saw strange man enter a street car, pay his fare and then
proceed to shake hands with everyone in the car, you would say
that the poor fellow was either crazy or inebriated. Why? Because
he was using a familiar sign that was meaningless. The people
of our civilization recognize the clasp of hands as a sign of
friendship. So, too, in the civilized world which we know the
kiss is a gesture and a contact which is understood to be the
sign of love. As such a sign the kiss reaches its perfection
when it is exchanged between a man and a woman who are bound together
in the union of true love. Such a kiss is a sublime and holy
thing. Our age, which has deified love of the sexual sort, has
simultaneously debased and degraded the love sign, the kiss.
No one will pretend that a girl can love every young man with
whom she associates, yet they keep assuring her with all propriety
she may kiss any boy with whom she spends an hour or an evening.
Well might we blame a girl for making herself so sickeningly cheap.
Yet in our own day it is only what the smart contemporary world,
what Hollywood and the popular magazines and the beastly advertisements
tell her to do. We know that Our Blessed Lord, in His own life,
said some strangely harsh things about the world and the devil
and their conspiracy against weak flesh. The plain, discouraging
truth is that for many a boy and girl today the kiss is no longer
a sign of love. It is no longer a sign of anything. It is either
a brutal, physical sport, or - God save the mark! — a payment.
It is a degrading idea that the girl is somehow indebted to the
boy for taking her out, and that the coin of her payment is the
kiss. The suggestion bears a distinct and malodorous resemblance
to commercialized vice. For Catholic girls, nothing more need
now quote verbatim the last three paragraphs of this classical
chapter of an excellent book that you should have:
kiss exists, now, for its own sake, without relating to meaning
of any sort. It is sought, given and exchanged, not to express
and glorify a gorgeous reality, but to yield a momentary thrill.
The kiss used to rise up from the heart; now it is chained to
the body. It used to incarnate the highest aspirations of two
who loved; now it embodies the lowest desires of two who lust
for one another. The kiss was once a poem and a song; now it
is a kind of silent blasphemy. So ends the modern history of
the sublime sign of love.
every other portion of the noble human body which the most high
God first lovingly formed out of the slime of the earth, the lips
are a miracle and a meditation. The lips of the infant draw life
from its mother’s breast. The lips help, throughout life, in
the normal, necessary functions of eating and drinking. The lips
play their part in the wonder of speech and in the equal marvel
of silence. The lips make a straight line of courage in adversity,
and softly part in the rare moments of surpassing joy which this
poor world affords. The lips whisper the act of contrition, and
open to welcome the white flake that is Christ Jesus. The lips
will taste a last anointing with holy oil, and - their last loving
sign, please God! - will be pressed against the crucifix in the
very article of death. The lips will be gently closed by loving
hands, and will open again one day to sing forever the rapturous
praise of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
is these lips which sweetly yield to the beloved the lovely sign
of love. Let them yield nothing else, ever."
Is it all
right for them to kiss each other? In her excellent book, "SO!
You Want to Get Married!," Dorothy Grant says among other
right, what about it? We may as well meet this ever-pressing
question right off.
of ‘ganging up’ with their own kind during the initial moments
of a party, why don’t boys and girls go right to it and kiss?
If there is no harm in a kiss why be ‘bashful about coming forward?
Why not kiss under a brilliantly lighted chandelier instead of
out in the moonlight behind the honeysuckle vine? Why not?
would kiss her father before a room full of people. Why not a
it be because maybe there is harm in a kiss?
course, kissing dad is old stuff. Kissing a boy is definitely
a kiss of another colour — usually quite red. Why?
there is as much potential harm in kissing a boy as there is potential
harm in human nature. How bad can you be? Do you know? True,
dad is an old hand at the business. He has been kissing mother
for years: but that’s the point it is mother whom he has kissed.
There was a first kiss between mother and dad, probably the kiss
which decided dad to give mother his name, his heart, and his
far as the girl is concerned, in truth, there may be little harm
in a kiss because usually a girl is less tempted than a
boy. But a kiss that leaves her unmoved may be a mortal sin for
him, and a portion of the guilt of that mortal sin will be hers
because she permitted the kiss. None of the guilt is hers
if the boy without the least encouragement has taken the kiss
by force, but a decent boy seldom does this.
the degree of ‘harm’ in a kiss must be measured by the circumstance
- under the chandelier or behind the honeysuckle vine. As Father
Furfey points out in his book, "This Way to Heaven,"
a kiss ‘may be anything from a beautiful act of supernatural charity
to a mortal sin of impurity.’ It is questionable if a kiss delivered
behind the honeysuckle vine is likely to be a ‘beautiful act of
has endowed our sense of touch with certain pleasant reactions.
Why? So that within the bonds of matrimony, a man and a woman
will unite, ‘two in one flesh’ for the procreation of children.
Within the bonds of matrimony a kiss, a caress are essential preliminaries
to this complete union of man and wife. Outside the bonds of
matrimony a kiss, a caress are just as appealing to the senses,
but in this circumstance physical union is a mortal sin."
And in the
concluding chapter of this excellent book the gifted author has
these practical remarks:
I suggest you refuse advances in the interest of being popular
and sought after by the right kind of boys, I am remembering my
‘dates.’ Memory insists it is true that if you are ‘hard to get’
you will be sought by the kind of boys you want to know. Of all
the young men who ‘dated’ me only one kissed me of my own free
will. That one I married.
and when the others took a kiss contrary to my will — boys will
do that - they had dated me for the last time. It was much more
pleasant to spend an evening at home with my mother or with a
good book than spend hours on a ‘date’ with a boy who refused
to understand that ‘No’ meant ‘No!’ Memory serves me well
on this point.
did I stand by this moral principle just because these words are
found in the dictionary. Far from it. These were guns which
mother said were worth defending and I believed she knew what
she was talking about. Who could know better than mother about
age has its superficialities, but fundamentally I do not believe
the girls of today are any different from the girls of my teen
days. Human nature does not change, nor do the divine and natural
moral laws change from age to age."
J. R. KNOX,