People are like porcupines. They fear the prickles of intimacy. Adam and Eve didn’t mind being open and vulnerable before the fall. In fact, they always ran around in the buff. Only after they sinned did they feel the need for a wardrobe. When God saw Eve’s leafy bikini and Adam’s speedo, He asked them a penetrating question: “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). God created man to connect with Him completely. So why were his trophy people hiding in the bushes, afraid to embrace their Maker?

 

Let’s explore this “kissing” concept in the Bible and how we might learn to be open and loving with others.

 

But first, let me tell you my story. One sultry Monday afternoon, Diana Worthington, Tony Sirchia, George McCaleb and I had an inspired idea. Why not have a kissing contest? Scientists call kissing osculation. Grandparents called it spooning and parents call it smooching, Teenagers call it suckus facikus. I was not a stranger to the fine art of kissing. In fact, I got started at an early age. 

 

First, I kissed the preacher’s son. Okay, I admit it. We were five. We were in love. Pastor Jimmy Allen poked his head into the family room thinking we were watching cartoons and found Mike and me lip-locked. Unruffled, he said, “Why don’t you two play checkers or something?” I’m not sure I agreed. I thought kissing beat checkers by a mile. Mike and I had been sweethearts for eons ... six days at least. It was time to take this relationship to the next level. For some unknown reason, our parents thought a summer wedding was a bit hasty. Killjoys. In retrospect, I believe they were right. Mike’s 25-cent allowance wouldn’t allow us to live in the lap of luxury. After all, who would buy my snazzy Tinker Bell thermos and magic markers for kindergarten? 

 

Back to our first-grade kissing contest ... I was sure I could wipe out the competition in the school kissing challenge because I could hold my breath underwater for at least 60 seconds. I practiced pursing my lips for hours, sucking my Melodica harmonica while I watched Andy Taylor teach Opey how to fish. Tony Sirchia, my partner, was a shoo-in because he took trumpet lessons. Puckering and spitting were essential skills for playing a brass instrument and his spit wads always landed with amazing accuracy. Tony was a “never say die” kind of guy -- he had the moxie to finish what he started.

 

Diana and George were definitely at a disadvantage. Diana had thin lips and George was so pudgy he could hardly reach her face without falling over. Diana only joined the opposing team because I promised to split my Slim Jims with her after school. George was also iffy about competing because he was recovering from the trauma of a Thanksgiving family reunion. Kissing caused George to shudder because the obligatory whiskery cheek pecks he endured from Aunt Myrtle and Granny Opal were indelibly etched in his memory. The moment the biddies had entered his front door, the slimy encounter s were inescapable. Nightmares of being trapped by musty, perfumy grannies and aunts filled his dreams. There was no escape. His well-meaning kin demanded kiddie kissing at every family gathering. But George was no quitter. He overcame his night terrors; pretended Diana was his slobbery pug Pixie and steeled himself to pucker up.

 

I was certain Tony and I had the potential to master the fine art of smooching. News of our adventure sport traveled fast and at small knot of Bunny and Turtle class members gathered to watch the competition. The crowd hollered, “On your mark -- get set -- go!” We four drew a deep breath and smacked away. Kissing this boy was much more disgusting than I had anticipated. Tony had been shooting hoops earlier, so he had B.O. and smelled like salt. I was also surprised to learn that little boys don’t brush their teeth as often as little girls. I was sure I tasted his leftover cheese goo from last night’s Hamburger Helper. Beside the fact that tasting and smelling Tony was unappealing, kissing him was like playing tonsil hockey with a vacuum cleaner or touching my tongue to a flagpole on an icy day. This would not end well.

 

The cheering onlookers counted to 30, chanting and clapping louder as we locked lips longer. I glanced at Diana and George out of the corner of my eye and they looked as miserable as we did. However, neither couple wanted to call it quits and admit defeat.

 

By the time the crowd reached 45 seconds, Principal Moffet threw open the hall window above us and leaned out so far we feared he would fall “splat” headlong onto the blacktop. I don’t know where Mrs. Hubbard and Mrs. Chase were during recess. They had probably retreated to the safe confines of the teacher’s lounge to down a couple of beers and watch As the World Turns before social studies.

 

Principal Moffet was not a happy camper. He dispersed the saliva-thirsty mob and had a few choice words to say to us before we tried to escape. “I am very disappointed in you.” He spoke in measured tones to express the gravity of the situation. “I am letting you go this time, but limit your playground activities to tag and four-square or I’ll banish you to my office for a week!” Saddened by the prospect that my athletic prowess would not land me a spot in the school trophy case, I returned to the mediocrity of team sports and longed for square-dance days.

 

My secret talent would go unnoticed and unappreciated until I married Mr. Right. Kissing my husband Roger was much more fun than smooching Tony Sirchia. Roger bathed and flossed regularly -- definitely a plus. However, Roger and I did face a few kissing challenges. He was 6’2" and I was 5’2" so a stepladder was often involved. I also had to remember to remove my retainer.

 

All humans long for affection. The desire to be held, cuddled and hugged is expressed the moment we enter the world. We never outgrow the desire to be cherished.

 

So what can we learn from God’s Word about kissing? And how will lip-locking change the way we relate to God and others? 

 

Kissing your kinfolks.

 

Isaac was near death when he called his son to his side to bless him. “Come here, my son, and kiss me” (Genesis 27:26). Uncle Laban chided Jacob for taking his brood away without a proper send-off. He cried, “Jacob, you didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-bye" (Gen 31:28). Our families, regardless of how crazy and dysfunctional they are, were designed by God to be “safe places” where we can truly be ourselves. Sharing genuine affection with welcoming arms go a long way to fulfilling our God-given need to be a part of a family. 

 

Kissing your sweetie.

 

God created marriage and sex. Because sex is so perverted in our society, many fear it and avoid it. Get a life! The Creator invented it, and sex is only hot when we are following His plan, in the context of married love. King Solomon wrote these words to his bride in Song of Solomon: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine” (Song of Songs 1:2). Intimacy in the context of marriage is the perfect picture of how close God wants to interact with us in a loving relationship. The more we love God, the more we love each other. The more we love each other, the more we open ourselves up to love God.

 

Kissing your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Paul was a big fan of congregational kissing. That’s why you should always floss before church. He wrote in Romans 16:16:

“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” He not only encouraged the Romans to welcome each other with a smooch, He also told the Corinthians and the Thessalonians to do so. The Corinthians really needed this lesson. They fought like cats and dogs. So Paul said: Why don’t you start over by greeting and treating each other with respect? When people walk through the doors of our churches, do they feel genuinely welcomed and loved? Do they see our delight at their presence, or do we “turn the other cheek” and ignore them?

 

 Kissing your King.

 

The psalmist describes the nations who rage against God in Psalm 2. God is both angry with these insolent people and laughs at their arrogance. In this poem that is both descriptive and prophetic, God utters these words: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you be destroyed in the way.” Kissing the ring of a ruler was a sign of obeisance and respect. We become intimate with God when we surrender our lives to Him and “kiss the Son.” We can either bow to Him now, or “kiss the Son” when He returns as king and judge. I vote for now. Kiss Him now! Jesus was sitting at dinner with rich Simon when a woman poured expensive perfume on His feet and kissed them. Simon balked, and chided her for feet-kissing. Jesus defended this woman’s act of unbridled love and affection by saying, “You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet” (Luke 7:45-46). Worship Christ with abandon and authenticity. Kiss the King.

 

Yes, you may have been hurt in church. Yes, you may be afraid of being hurt again by your family, your spouse, or your Christian brothers and sisters, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

 

God cries out to you just like He did to Adam and Eve: “Where are you?” Don’t be afraid of a little intimacy. Open your heart. We were made to love.

 

Julie Tacker Barrier with Brianna Barrier Engeler. Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale: Xulon Press: 2011, pp. 50-55.