Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Romance Stuff #1 - The Kissing Question

While writing my YA medieval/adventure romance novels, I faced a bit of a moral conundrum. Should I include kissing in books geared toward Christian teens? I don’t think that kissing should be done recreationally or taken lightly. Therefore, in today’s culture, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that sixteen and seventeen-year-olds jump on the kissing bandwagon, and I certainly wouldn’t want younger teenage readers to think that I’m encouraging them to experiment with kissing.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that the “purity” and “courtship” fanatics have gotten this issue right either. Song of Solomon recommends that young women not “awake love before it pleases.” This is smart. Before a young innocent woman becomes awakened sexually, it is pretty easy to stay pure. Once that awakening process has begun, usually through kisses and embraces, it becomes more challenging to maintain godly morals. 

However, I don’t think the honeymoon night is the right time to BEGIN that awakening process either. For one thing, it’s just too late and too much pressure on a bride. In addition, I think that before you make a permanent decision like marriage (among other more important issues) you should at least take into consideration the level of physical attraction. While it is wise to base a relationship on a strong friendship, there also needs to be that reasonable spark of attraction or else marital intimacy could be very awkward. If there is no physical contact (i.e. kissing), that can be hard to assess. So I would say that once you start seriously dating with an eye towards marriage, perhaps in your late teens or early twenties, and once the friendship is on solid ground, kissing is fine. (Okay, let's fact it, kissing is great!)

Which brings me back to my medieval series. The medieval culture was different from our culture today. Girls typically married during their teen years, and my heroines are clearly headed in that direction. So my final decision was that they needed to experience some kisses with their potential mates, and that it would be appropriate to include a bit of kissing in my books. 

Besides, everyone loves a good kiss!

P.S. For a good balanced perspective on the concerns surrounding kissing, check out this article. I especially like the way they continually encourage you to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. 

What are your views on kissing? Have you been exposed to any of the anti-kissing or courtship schools of thought? How did you feel about it?


  1. I got married at 19. I didn't date anyone, ever until after becoming engaged to my best friend of 4 years. He hadn't ever dated anyone, ever. We hadn't even dated either other. We weren't specifically courting, well, maybe we were between mid August and mid November. But we were SO intentional about our friendship! Then, after getting engaged in November, we went on our first date. Then that June we got married. When the pastor said, "You may kiss the bride", that was our first kiss. And believe me, there was NO problem whatsoever with physical attraction on our wedding night! I'm convinced that if God leads you to the person He wants you to marry, He'll take care of little details like physical attraction. I would recommend everyone do a relationship like this after my experience! It was wonderful, in so so so many ways! I entered marriage so pure, so innocent still! And that was such a joy to my husband! And during our time of engagement when we weren't kissing, I got learn the power of touch. Who knew a hand massage could bring so much pleasure? Who knew a hug was the most wonderful feeling in the world? And now, as a married woman of 12.5 years I'm still delighting in those small touches. I still think a hug is the most wonderful feeling in the world. I just also enjoy the other stuff too. :-)

    1. That's really cool, and it is so nice to hear a success story like that. I think part of the right "formula" here is that you guys heard from God for yourselves. There have been a lot of negative stories coming out of the whole courtship scene lately, but I wonder if those were people who were pushed of guilted into that system. I don't know if you clicked on the supplementary article, but it is all about letting the Holy Spirit guide your decisions. Sounds like you and your husband had plenty of attraction going on ;)

    2. I was just peeking at pictures of you and your husband on facebook. You're really cute together :)

    3. That is lovely. I know a lot of people disapprove of the notion of people who didn't really know each other well marrying in the past- but some people have argued that, it a couple were married young, as teenagers, at the time when romantic feelings were blossoming, and treated each other decently, they probably would have grown to love each other.

      I guess, if they had not had romantic feelings for anyone else, and had experienced the love and joy of a family with that person for years, never having known or wanted anything different, you could be satisfied.

    4. I think that basing marriage on gushy feelings is shaky ground, because those pass so quickly. That's a good point about marrying as teens when love is blossoming. Someone on facebook mentioned India and arranged marriages. They tend to work out okay, but I think it would also end up depending on the parents motivations in choosing a mate. My brother in law is Indian, and none of he or his siblings would do the arranged thing, even though their parents tried.

      I've been watching Reign recently, which is about Mary Queen of Scots, and I really enjoyed the way they portrayed her and her arranged husband being childhood friends and then their love blossoming into something more as teens.

    5. Haven't heard of that one- but you certainly have a point. I think C.S.Lewis said something along about feelings alone not being the most reliable basis for marriage in 'The Four Loves'.

      That's interesting about India. Arranged marriage tends to have a lot of bad press- and I think in some cases it is warranted, but not always so. I think it depends on the nature, and motivations as you say. For instance I think sometimes the media tends to conflate arranged marriage with forced marriage, looking at some societies in which women have few rights, and think thay was the Norm in the past, or is the Norm everywhere today- but it is not/was not always.

      As I've said before, and a Bishop I spoke to recently said, the chuch has long upheld free consent as one of the fundamental basis of marriage, so that technically, children could say no to the person thier parents chose......

  2. Just make sure when you are writing in a historical time period, you stick with the culture of the time. Even if you disagree with it. What did they do in the time period you are writing?

    1. Good question, Martha. This was a pretty randy time period. Not at all like the later Victorian Era. Peasants often waited until after pregnancy to get married, just to give you a feel. Priests often had mistresses. Only among the noblewomen was "virtue" closely guarded to make sure that bloodlines remained pure. But I believe kissing was still fairly common.

    2. I was going to mention the Norms of the time period as well. One thing I've come across recently is the apparent dicotomy between the morals and behaviour presented in Medieval Literature, and the reality.
      Medieval 'Romances' were just that- the popular fiction of the age- but in the real world folks couldn't necessarily get away with the kind of amorous exploits they did in stories.

      One thing thats interesting, is that one famous set of Tales 'Chretien de Troyes Arthurian Romances', three of the four stories, the ones he made up himself, either culminate in marriage, or have protagnists that are already married.
      Only one, that he was commisioned to write for someone else, glorifies an Adulterous relationship (Lancelot and Guinivere).

      What's also interesting is marriage customs. For instance not all clerics were fobidden to marry, and before the 1100s even some priests could.
      Also, under church law all that was needed for a valid 'marriage' was a verbal contract between two parties in front of witnesses- saying something like 'I do take thee to my by hisband/wife'. There's even anecodotes about people getting wed like this in the local pub.
      So perhaps some peasants were technically 'married' within even setting foot in church to have a formal ceremony......which could really cause things to become complicated.

      You're right about the landowning classes- though I think the gaurding of virtue was more about ensuring the legitimacy of hiers-- I suppose that's similar to ensuring 'pure' bloodlines, but it had to do with land and inheritance too. I'm not sure about other countries, but under English law those born illigitimately were not supposed to inherit land, even in peasant families...

      Apologies for the history lesson...its just the past can be so different from what we expect sometimes.....

    3. On the subject of kissing (sorry for another comment from me), I don't know if you've ever come across the issue in your research of people of the same sex kissing. I know in our society today, we would think that meant the people were gay, (not trying to be controversial), but in the past, I've heard it didn't have the same kind of connotations.

      Richard the Lionheart, for instance was widely believed to have been homosexual in the 60s and 70s because of a reference to him having kissed the King of France in a comtemporary source, but most historians now have rejected that, and think that he was not.
      It seems in Medieval culture, it was not uncommon for male monarachs to greet each other with a kiss, or denote a trusting, close friendship without meaning anything sexual....

    4. Do you know anything about hand fasting? I think it was more in a different area, maybe Scotland. It's interesting, but I haven't looked at it in a while.

    5. I've only really heard of it in Scotland, TBH, but it may have existed elsewhere. Not really sure. I think the church was pretty adamant on marriage being permanent normally....

    6. Not really. Heard of it but never really come across any references to it in the Medieval period. The church was pretty strict on the idea of marriage being permanent, but some nations and tribes had different customs and traditions, so it may have originated with one of them....?

  3. You know, I was also thinking that in addition to the accurate history issue is the genre issue. I originally wrote this book as a YA romance, Dauntless Love. The publisher asked me to take it more in an adventure/saga type direction, which I was very excited about because while I love romance, I don't really think of myself as a "romance writer." But the romance was still very foundational to the story.