Menu Close

Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?


Every day, without fail, women somewhere in the world search for “is it a sin to kiss my boyfriend?” Thanks to the post, Hey Girlfriend: Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?, this blog is the number one Google search result. I can’t remember the last time I looked at search logs and didn’t see a handful of female visitors coming to this site to find out whether it is okay to swap spit with their boyfriends. I say female visitors, because I’ve never seen someone come to my site as a result of a “is it a sin to kiss my girlfriend” web search. It seems that women have a lot more angst about kissing their boyfriend than boyfriends do kissing them. I’ve often wondered what it is that drives women to seek out anonymous Internet advice about boyfriend kissing. Are these women being pressured by their boyfriends to be physically intimate? Probably. Kissing is very much a part of the human experience. Sadly, as with most things that are pleasurable, Evangelicals have deemed kissing between unmarried men and women to be a sin. Let me explain how Evangelicals come to this “Biblical” position.

First, Evangelicals believe that, thanks to Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden 6,017 years ago, the human race is, by nature, sinful. Born into sin, every human being is at variance with God. The Bible says that infants come forth from the womb speaking lies. We don’t become sinners, we are sinners. The Bible says human hearts are deceitful and wicked, so much so that none of us can truly know our heart. Because of our fallen nature, we desire to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. At the top of the Evangelical lust list are a variety of sexual sins: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, masturbation, petting, spooning, and looking at a woman with lust in your heart. Believing that inappropriate physical contact with the opposite sex (there are no gays in the Evangelical church) is a gateway to serious sexual sins such as fornication and adultery, many Evangelical sects, churches, pastors, and families adopt strict rules governing physical intimacy between unmarrieds. For those not raised in Evangelical churches, they will likely find the remainder of this post beyond belief, but rest assured that what I share next can be found in countless Evangelical churches and homes.

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the 1970s — the era of free love. While hippies were smoking marijuana, listening to rock music, and exploring their sexuality, the unmarried students at Midwestern were expected to maintain a six-inch distance from each other at all times. If you have not read the post, Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule, I encourage you to do so. It goes into great detail explaining how the puritanical leadership at Midwestern made sure students kept their distance from each other. Most of the students at Midwestern came from Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches that also had some sort of prohibition against physical contact. During my teenage years, I was a member of Trinity Baptist Church, Findlay, Ohio and First Baptist Church, Bryan, Ohio. Both churches frowned on teenagers and young adults touching one another. Violating the no touch policy resulted in scoldings and separation during church services from your boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes, the pastors would spend time during their sermons rebuking sexually aware unmarrieds for their inappropriate touching. Time was also spent during youth group meetings drilling it into the heads of teenagers that God did not approve of them intimately touching each other. It should come as no surprise then that when unmarrieds were unable to abstain from acting on their sexual desires, they were often filled with guilt and fear. And I’m not talking about having sexual intercourse. More than a few teenagers found themselves ridden with guilt over holding hands with their girlfriend during church services or putting their arm around their boyfriend when no one was looking. Of course, there was certainly plenty of rounding-third and sliding-into-home sexual activity going on. In recent years, I’ve had the privilege of becoming reacquainted with several friends from my high school days. The stories they tell about their own sexual experiences during our youth group years are certainly different from mine. I’ve concluded that pretty much everybody in youth group was sexually active except me. I was a good Baptist boy who played by the rules. While I certainly held hands with girls, put my arms around them, and kissed them, I (barely) maintained my virginity until my wedding day.

There are several verses in the Bible that Evangelical preachers use to justify their hands-off rules. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 states:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

It is good for an unmarried man to NOT touch a woman, God says. Didn’t Jesus himself warn that just an inappropriate look at a woman can cause men to commit adultery in their hearts? From these verses Evangelical preachers justified their no-touch rules; rules, by the way that most of them didn’t keep when they were young unmarrieds.

Preachers also used what I call the kitchen-sink verses to prop up their preaching against sexual sin:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15,16)

Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

Those raised in Evangelicals churches know that these verses (and others) were often used by preachers to label virtually anything and everything sin. (Please read The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook and An Independent Baptist Hate List.)

Young women in particular were psychologically abused by Evangelical preachers who felt it was their duty to make sure that the women were virgins on their wedding day. Preachers shared horror stories about women who engaged in premarital sex. Virtually all the preaching was directed towards women. After all, they were the gatekeepers. It was up to them to keep their legs closed when horn dog young men came sniffing around. Men are weak, the thinking goes, so it is up to Susie to make sure that both Johnny and Susie are virgins on their wedding day. And the best way to do this is to not have physical contact with each other before marriage. Just remember, the preacher says. No girl has ever gotten pregnant without holding hands or kissing a boy first! I kid you not, handholding was viewed as some sort of gateway, a gate which, once unmarrieds walked through it, would lead directly to them being given over to fornication. I know this sounds crazy, but this line of thinking is still quite prominent today. This is why so many unmarried women do Google searches for “is it a sin to kiss my boyfriend?” They likely attend churches that prohibit physical contact between unmarrieds. Yet, when they are away from the prying eyes of their pastors and parents, these sexually aware young adults engage in various forms of sexual intimacy. Fear and guilt follow, so they seek out “help” for dealing with their “lustful” desires.

Here’s my advice to those who are psychologically and spiritually troubled over holding hands with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Your feelings and desires are normal. Sexually aware people naturally desire physical intimacy. The key is to embrace your sexuality and act responsibly. This means you will have to ignore what your windbag preacher is telling you. It’s highly unlikely that any of the adults who are telling you that physical contact is a sin practiced what they preach. These hypocrites should spend their time teaching unmarrieds sexual responsibility. Most young adults will have sex intercourse before they are married. While your church may consider this a sin, those outside of the Evangelical church view sexual intimacy as a normal part of the human experience. Educate yourself about sex and make sure you always use birth control. I realize your preacher likely has said that using birth control is you preparing to sin, but I think we would all agree that unwanted pregnancies are a bad idea, and the only way to avoid them is to use birth control. Don’t allow the puritanical sexual standards of others to dictate what you will do. It’s your body, your life. And as far as kissing your boyfriend is concerned? Kiss away. A kiss is just a kiss. It can lead to more intimate behavior, but it also can be just that — a kiss. Remember, you, not your church, parents, or preacher, are in control of what you do sexually. Those who demand that you maintain your distance from the opposite sex are stunting your development.

Part of growing up is the exploration of our sexuality. This includes masturbation. Anyone who tells you that masturbation is a sin is someone you need to stop listening to. Like the desire for physical interaction with the opposite sex, masturbation is a normal, healthy behavior. I guarantee you that most of the married adults in your church masturbated before they were married. And I think I would be safe in saying that some of them still do. Masturbation is a great way to release sexual tension, especially when one is not ready to have sexual intercourse.

What I’m saying here is that it is all good. Sexual want, need, and desire are very much a part of the human experience. I encourage you to embrace your sexuality and enjoy all the pleasure that comes from doing so.


  1. Avatar

    It always amazes me how they carry on about the poor, weak man who is so weak even a glimps off womanly flesh will make him lose control and sin, yet this weak, uncontrollable blameless being is to be the head off the household and in charge of us “ebil wimins” who tempt them away from “Jebus” just by being female. WTF is up with that?

  2. Avatar

    I find there is a lot of sexual purity bravado among young evangelical men at grass roots level.
    A sort of ‘who can be as honest about sin and as hardcore in their plan to fight it’ attitude.

    At guys retreats or men only bible studies men (18-22 year olds) would admit their failings and make plans to avoid sin … ‘I won’t watch TV at night in case I become aroused’, ‘can someone call me after my morning shower to keep me accountable in case I masturbated’.
    The inevitable failure leads to more guilt and confessions at the next camp.

    The idea that we are in a battle with sin appeals to young men who love a challenge. But life shouldn’t be this never ending struggle with your natural desires in which you always fail.

  3. Avatar
    Danny C

    Bruce, I grew up listening to those very same verses and warnings; it pisses me off that I fell for it hook, line and sinker. During Sunday School when I was around 12 or 13, the preacher visited class one day to answer any questions that our hormone-fueled minds may be thinking. It was the “sex talk.” Someone asked about the penalty for fornication and I remember the preacher smiling when he said doing it or not could mean a difference of two million degrees – in HELL. Awkward chuckle… The notion stuck. Girls were “floaty things” to be revered but never touched, like a piece of priceless art. How I wish now that the advice we heard was like the last two paragraphs of your article.

  4. Avatar

    So right, Bruce. I wish I’d had someone telll me all this way back when instead of warning me off, telling me it was all sin, sin, sin. It isn’t and those who know think it is will most likely live to regret denying their essential selves. I know I did.

  5. Avatar

    This has always confused me.
    If one believes they were created by God, then why would he create a person and their urges and then say it’s not okay to have those urges?

    So much guilt gets piled on the evangelical kids and teens for so many years that it’s amazing they don’t all explode!!

    I’m amazed I survived that load of guilt.

    Although when I posed the question to my husband, “Is it a sin for me to kiss my boyfriend?” he had a lot of interesting commentary. Which, while colorful and amusing, has no place here.

    • Avatar

      The teaching is that sexual urges are from god but have been corrupted by the fall.

      Sexual desire is good as long as it is only for your wife / husband. So pre fall humans would only feel sexual desire for their partner.

      In 10 years I couldn’t see how illogical this was. Our urges are the same as the rest of the animal Kingdom but we don’t ascribe theirs to their sinful nature.

      Animals have an urge to mate and this grows the species. A bull presumably looks lustfully at cows but we don’t call this sin … We call it natural.

  6. Avatar
    Lara Grace-Class Snider

    I have always been annoyed at the layers of conflicting advice- stay pure, don’t have lust, porn is an addiction and will ruin a guy because of his supposed desire from seeing a woman in a mini-skirt. It is pretty insulting and infers that men are just overwhelmed by by females and in a state of madness, is ridiculous and insulting. I have worked with people who have mental health diagnoses, and intellectual,and or developmental disabilities for over twenty years.. Not once have I worked with someone that loses all control because he can see my knees. If people could go online, look at whatever, good for them. I think the stigma, and constant fussing about female purity and not causing a man to stumble by wearing a bikini is waaaay more delusional than a person who has delusions and hallucinations. I am really happy to see that people are popping over here because of a Google search-we all need to evaluate what our choices in life are, and there are lots of things that you talked about, that sheltered kids didn’t use to have access to.

    • Avatar

      Appreciated your comment, Lara Grace-Class Snider. As an old man now, a Baptist preacher’s son who worked for a few decades in several mental health facilities, I want to echo your statement about the wildly wacko concerns expressed by the religio-bunch regarding men and their reaction to women. It is only in an atmosphere of denial and shame that a man can become the uncontrollable cock of the block. It takes scripture and preachers, church pressures and family neuroses all mixed up together to end up with a man who cannot control himself. (I am not saying the Church is at the bottom of all misbehavior like this but it sure adds to it. Thank-you Jesus! (I should perhaps let Jesus off the Cross and blame the Pope/Church, I guess, but the longer I live, the more implicated God/Christ becomes in the bargain.
      One of the most erotic pictures I ever saw as a youngster in Baptist Woo-land, was a Time Magazine black and white picture of a young woman in a miniskirt climbing up the back window of Billy Graham’s moving car. It shows only legs, of course but it was symbolically explosive! In those days there were miniskirts all over but not like this, on Jesus’ own auto! Of course, I had no way of knowing how truly fucked up I was by the Baptist way of death, called the Fellowship… That came much later and remained without words to wear, remained invisible.
      I cannot seem to track down the photo now but it is out there in the Time archives, I guess.
      Should you kiss your boyfriend? By all means but if you are asking this question, seek a reputable, non-Christian therapist. That way, in time, you will find more balance in your life, less extremes.

  7. Avatar

    What I feel is somewhat ironic (in my own subjective experience of course) is that I thought more about sex and fantasized a lot more about it when i was religious and actively trying to avoid sex or the thought of it at all costs. I feel like the more someone tries to avoid something the more they actually end up becoming obsessed over it. Add the christian guilt trip over impure thoughts and this is a recipe for disaster and low self esteem usually found in purity culture. Needless to say i have a much healthier view over the whole issue now.

    • Avatar

      I recall a study that referenced the Jimmy Swaggart affair (he had prostitutes pose for him while he masturbated.) It came to a similar conclusion. The more Swaggart preached on the issue, the more he thought about it, the more he thought about it the more obsessed he became with it.

  8. Pingback:Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend? –

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away! If You Are a First Time Commenter, Please Read the Comment Policy Located at the Top of the Page.

Bruce Gerencser