Critical Thinking

Reader Questions: Is Romance Ungodly?

I republished last week’s post on Reader Questions about whether or not it is a sin to kiss outside of marriage on Lagos Convo.  No doubt, my response to the lady in question was unpopular, and raised a lot of emotions among my readers, who thought I was leading others to error by condoning the act, even within limits.

In defending my position, I drew upon Paul’s statements about giving the Brethren a “holy kiss” (Rom 16:16, 2 Cor 13:12), to show that kissing itself is not the problem.  The problem seems to be with whether those with romantic feelings can kiss without lusting in their hearts, and thereby sinning.  In their zeal to flee from all appearances of evil and from fornication, many proponents of sexual purity do not even condone holding hands, hugging or cuddling.  However, I consider this extreme, unnatural and religious.

I presented my case that romance is not unholy, when the people involved are godly, and so, if they were to share a kiss, it would also be holy.  That is unless there is a “holy kiss” that Paul meant, which excludes mouth to mouth.  Maybe only air kisses or kisses on the cheek or forehead count as ‘holy’.  For me, the emphasis is not to be laid on the nature of the kiss, but on the holiness of the people involved and their motives – whether to express affection or for illegitimate sexual gratification.

A few people bulked at my proclamation that “romance between two godly people is holy!” One of the readers wrote this in response in the Facebook thread:

“First off, Ufuomaee…
Could you please define exactly what you mean by ‘romance between two godly people’?

Now, kissing is a serious issue between a couple. Personally, I don’t endorse it at all for dating (boyfriend/girlfriend thing) couples but when it comes to courting, the question should be: Should I kiss my FIANCE/FIANCEE before marriage?

Now let’s talk…
The word of God is completely written for our understanding and benefit. Thus, when 1 Corinthians 6:18 says ‘Flee from fornication’, God actually meant that we literally run away from it- anything that can lead us into it.
At Matthew 5:28, Jesus gave us a simple principle that helps us to understand the concept of not going close to sin at all.
Jesus said: ‘But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’.
You see that the thought of it can closely pass for it. How well and for how long can you go about ‘kissing’ each other without wanting more?

Thus, we should do a we can to avoid sin.
One fine question to ask ourselves is: How close can we get to sin and not actually sin?”

I wrote what follows in response to him (with a little tweaking).  I could have said more, but I sought to focus on the issue at hand, whether romance can be godly or not.

x x x x x

Hi, I like your contribution.  I think that there are worldly things, there are holy things, and there are good and bad things.  Worldly does not necessarily mean bad.  Guess what?  Marriage is of the world!  Jesus tells us that there will be no marriage in Heaven (Matt 22:30).  Yet, even though marriage is of the world, marriage is also holy!!!  Amen to that.

Marriage is not bad in itself, but the reasons people enter marriage, and how people handle marriage can be bad or good.  Likewise, romance is of the world.  But romance that is needful for two people to come together in marriage is not unholy, if both people are God-fearing.  It is godly, because the aim is godly.  It isn’t selfish.  Otherwise, Christians should only have arranged marriages.

Now, the argument presented against kissing, hugging, cuddling etc while in courtship is that “all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity”.  However, this argument has no scriptural basis, but is built on the premise that romance is bad or unholy outside of marriage!  If I can hug and cuddle and kiss my sister, why should I be made to feel unholy because I want to do so with my boyfriend or fiance, who I happen to have romantic feelings for?

That is where self control comes in.  It is not to act as though our feelings of attraction are ungodly, but to exercise dominion over our flesh, and put in place boundaries.  Anything I can do comfortably to my sister, who I am close to, I can do with my Brother in Christ, who so happens to be my Boyfriend or Fiance.

This principle applies to other brotherly/sisterly expressions of love and intimacy that is legitimate.  If you can’t do it to a natural brother or sister, then you should stay clear of doing it in courtship, e.g fondling or inappropriate touch of sexual parts.  Those things speak of lust and illicit sex.

Kissing, however, is a very emotional expression of love, which is why prostitutes won’t kiss their clients, and clients do not care for it either. So though I wouldn’t french kiss my sister or just anybody, I can exercise that freedom with someone I love romantically.  However, it is wiser still to minimise the level and frequency of kissing, so that you are not consumed with emotion, and tempted to do more before your wedding night.

x x x x x

And I will add that…  As people who are consecrated to God, we are to lead holy lives…  Everything about us and what we do is holy, if we are truly in the Faith.  Sex in marriage is holy (for this condition is tied to sex for legitimacy and morality).  There is no holy way to have sex.  Brotherly affection, expressed in hugs and kisses, is holy.  Our eating, drinking, sleeping, dancing etc are all holy.  Why?  Because “…whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).  So even our romance is holy, when we are submitted to God.

Let this principle guide us in all our interactions with one another, whether they be platonic or romantic:

For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.  Rather, serve one another in love.  The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:13-14).

Please feel free to correct my understanding, if you think I am missing the spirit here.  If we are not willing to doubt ourselves, we cannot learn.  However, if I have cleared up any confusion for you regarding this, I will be pleased to read your comment.  Thanks.


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