Three Things To Tell Your Teen About Kissing

By Dannah Gresh

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To kiss or not to kiss? That’s what moms ask me all the time as they’re preparing their tweens, teens, and college-bound young adults for pure dating. Here are three things you need to tell your teen.

Tell them some things are worth waiting for, because they are. From the simple things we wait for each year like giving out your Valentine's Day cards on the actual day or grandma’s famous heart-shaped sugar cookies to big life landmarks like getting married or turning a pregnancy stick pink, it is the human experience to savor the process of waiting. Conversely, the process of taking something before it is time spoils it. I still remember sneaking under my parent’s bed to look at my Christmas gifts before Christmas in 6th grade. Talk about a total fail! (Sorry, Mom.)

Assuming you agree that the gift of sex is to be reserved for marriage, when you're raising sexually pure kids, it’s a good idea to teach them that they don’t want to rev up the engine or they could risk receiving something before it is time. Ephesians 5:3 urges that there would not be a “hint” of sexual sin (or misuse outside of marriage) in us. Tell your kids how they might find themselves hinting at sexual sin—and revving up the engine—before marriage with a kiss. Here’s the science behind it.

  • Saliva contains testosterone, which increases sexual arousal. (What!? You didn't think there was some purpose behind the kissing?)
  • Researchers believe that a man can subconsciously measure estrogen levels, increasing his sexual desire.
  • The body’s Autonomic Nervous System, the system that controls sexual response, is heightened by a kiss. This system is not controlled by your mental faculties, but by your physical experiences. Desire can begin to control you whether or not you would chose for it to.

In our family, we opened the conversation for our kids to wait for that first kiss. How long? Well, that takes me to the second thing to talk about with your kids.

Tell them not to jump on the “I kissed kissing goodbye” wagon too fast. I frequently spend time in the Dominican Republic where the Christian brothers and sisters kiss! I’m not talking about a romantic kiss. I’m talking about every time they greet each other, it’s with a kiss on the cheek. The first few times a pastor or other church leader moved in on me...well, I will tell you I was quite uncertain as to what to do? But then, I saw that the healthy Christian culture of modesty and purity in the Dominican Republic wasn’t laced with repression of or hyperawareness of sexuality that we sometimes experience in my neck of the woods. It was a natural, innocent, beautiful, and familial expression.

We have to be careful not to make standards that are even the tiniest bit contrary to the heart of scripture. And scripture encourages kissing! The Apostle Paul encourages us to greet each other with a holy kiss. He doesn’t leave us a user manual, so what kind of kiss is this that he practically commands? To be sure, this isn’t your searching-the-cavern-kind-of-kiss. It’s not even a tempting-kiss. It’s an innocent peck of greeting like you might get from your uncle or your dad. We don’t kiss much in American evangelical circles. I think that’s because we’ve reduced the kiss to an overtly sensual transaction in our culture and we’ve lost something. We’ve lost the sign of attachment that is meant by a sweet kiss. Every now and then I meet an older man or woman who has walked with God for so long that their lives exude love. They greet me with hugs and kisses no matter how well I know them. It feels like what I think Paul was talking about—a greeting by a family member. A deep love and affirmation that says “you belong.” I think that there’s a loss in defining all kisses as sensual. Let’s avoid that but telling our kids to avoid jumping on legalistic trends and adopting hyper-sexual dogma.

A healthy message of modesty and purity can allow—and in fact, encourage—appropriate tender kisses. After all, FIVE TIMES in the New Testament Christians are told to “greet each other with a holy kiss.”

Tell them what kind of kissing you think is OK and at what age. I have been silly and specific with my kids. That’s why I have this ridiculous quiz in my back pocket. Maybe you’ll love it. (And maybe you’ll write me hate mail.) Ask your teen or college-aged student, “Which of these five kinds of kisses do you think are OK outside of marriage?”

The Virtual-You probably already know how this works, but this simple sign— :-* — sends a kiss across the Internet.

Brotherly Kiss-A sweet kiss on the cheek. It’s fast and gentle. No lingering.

Planting Kiss-This one goes lip to lip, baby. It’s firm, but fast. No lingering.

Teaser Kiss-Start with a kiss on the forehead or neck. Linger slowly in each spot as you kiss your way to each other’s mouths.

The Oh la la-The French variation is where you start to open your mouth for each other. You know how it works. It’s the stuff movies are made of.

Ask your kids what they think is OK. Then talk with them to see how it lines up with God’s word and your family standards. Where ever this conversation takes you, I hope you know there’s always a little room for some Mistletoe!

For more from Dannah Gresh on raising tween girls, visit


You and your TWEEN (aged 7-12 year old) daughter are invited to The World’s Largest Valentween’s Day Party! (See what we did there?) We'll open up God's Word to go back to the Garden of Eden together in an experiential Bible study on the topic of finding true love. Your daughter will  never look at boy craziness the same way again.  Nor will you. (video now available in our livestream archives HERE)



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