Earlier this week my students and I were talking about whether sexual experience is a necessary prerequisite for marriage. While they all agreed that sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin, some said they wouldn't want to marry someone who had never kissed anyone before. The general consensus among those students was that to experience your first kiss with your spouse (not your boyfriend or girlfriend) would just be plain awkward. In their minds, you need a little experience first.
But do you?
Do you need to test the waters with other people, or even your future spouse, before you know if marriage is a possibility? And if so, how does this line up with God's design for marriage and purity? The fear of awkwardness with intimate and sexual behavior is actually fear of the unknown, not fear of the act itself. We live in a culture that makes sex (and everything leading up to sex) look polished and mishap free. In the minds of so many young people, experience before the wedding night ensures that this does not happen to them.
But I think they are missing the point. It's not the frequency of activity or sexual prowess that removes awkwardness on the wedding night. It's a covenant.
When God created Eve for Adam the Bible makes the declaration that the man and his wife were both naked and unashamed. Prior to sin they both lived in a completely shame free marriage. While the Bible does not declare whether or not there was awkwardness between the two when they first came together, we do know one thing--they had no shame. Shame came later when sin entered the world. But because of Christ the marriage relationship can now be a place free from shame. Because of Christ a husband and wife can be naked and unashamed again. Outside of the marriage relationship this is not the case. Outside of marriage you live in fear of shame from a person who really has no claim on you.
So what does experience in kissing have to do with this? If it is true that experience in kissing can help determine if a person is one you would want to marry, then there should be no fear or shame associated with that infamous first kiss. How many people feel awkward or nervous leading up to (and immediately after) the first kiss with someone? I know I did. But I can honestly say that this was not the case when I kissed my husband for the first time on our wedding day. And the most obvious answer for me was that at that moment I knew that no matter how bad (or good) I was at kissing, he was not going to leave me. My ability as a kisser was not the determining factor of his love and commitment to me. It was the covenant we had just made before God and our family and friends.
You see, a kiss can lie to you. Maybe you are having a bad day and kissing is just not that appealing to you in that moment. You might determine that the lack of spark or emotion related to kissing that person means you shouldn't be with him or her anymore, when in reality you just have a stomach ache.
You don't have to get to the wedding day with a myriad of kissing partners added to your experience belt. And if you do, it won't necessarily mean that you will be a better spouse or even better suited to engage in sexual activity. In fact, it might do the very opposite. God designed sexual activity to only be experienced between one man and one woman for life. The direct implication is that we become experienced over time with one another. And that is a beautiful, God ordained thing.
While the culture might tell us that the sparks that fly after a kiss determine our compatibility as a couple, the Bible presents a very different story. It tells us that God is the one who sustains the marriage, not the sparks. The butterflies we feel in that moment might be lying to us. They might be telling us that we feel good and like the experience, but they don't tell us whether this relationship can be sustained over a lifetime. And that gets clouded sometimes by the emotion of the moment.
Even the best of kisses can lie to you. What will keep you going long after you say "I do" is not the passion of the kiss, but the promise of our Savior to sustain those who are his.