Physical intimacy is a sensitive and important topic for Christians. Kissing, cuddling, and other forms of physical touch can build emotional intimacy in relationships, but they can also lead to sexual temptation if not kept within biblical boundaries. As Christians, we want to honor God with our bodies and relationships. So what guidance does the Bible offer about appropriate physical intimacy for unmarried and married couples? Let’s explore key scriptures and principles on this topic.
- Kissing and cuddling can be an expression of emotional intimacy in relationships, but should be kept within clear biblical limits.
- For unmarried couples, restraint from prolonged kissing and full-body cuddling is wise to avoid sexual temptation. Simple kisses and brief hugs are preferable.
- Within marriage, kissing and cuddling have a beautiful and important role in building intimacy, affection, and enjoyment of the marital relationship.
- Christians should be guided by biblical principles of sexual purity, self-control, respect for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, and honoring others above ourselves.
- Kissing and cuddling should not become self-gratifying but rather serve to mutually uplift and care for our spouses.
- Married couples have freedom to share physical affection as long as it ultimately honors God and serves the marriage relationship.
What Does the Bible Say About Physical Intimacy Before Marriage?
The Bible advises unmarried Christians to practice caution and self-control when it comes to physical intimacy. While the Bible does not provide detailed “rules” about exactly how far to go, it does lay out clear principles to guide wise decision-making.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 warns believers to flee from sexual immorality and highlights the sacredness of our bodies:
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
This passage teaches that sexual intimacy is a unique sin because it impacts our very bodies, which God calls His temple. Single Christians should be careful to avoid stirring up sexual passion before marriage.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 emphasizes avoiding lustful passions:
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Unmarried couples should be wary of anything that awakens sensual cravings. It’s wise to avoid prolonged physical intimacy that awakens sexual desire.
2 Timothy 2:22 instructs Timothy to flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
This encourages unmarried believers to avoid inflaming sexual passion. Seeking the Lord wholeheartedly is our highest aim.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus equates lustful thoughts with the physical act of adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). He cares about both our actions and intentions. Kissing or cuddling could stir wrong desires and fantasies even if it doesn’t lead to greater sexual acts.
God cares about our motives and what’s best for our spouses. Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 explains that love “does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”
So Scripture does not forbid all physical affection before marriage, but it lays out wise principles about fleeing lust, controlling our bodies honorably, not inflaming passions, pursuing righteousness rather than self-gratification, and loving others unselfishly.
Wise Boundaries for Single Christians
Based on these biblical principles, many Christians apply general guidelines that prolonged romantic kissing, laying on top of one another, caressing of private areas, and full pressing of bodies together are unwise before marriage. They can simply go too far in prematurely awakening sensual desires and appetites God intends for the marriage union.
however, brief kisses and hugs that convey sincere affection without stirring sexual passion can have an appropriate place in dating and courtship. Guarding both hearts is essential, as is seeking wisdom from the Lord, parents, and spiritual mentors about just how far to go based on your unique relationship and vulnerabilities.
Here are some suggested wise boundaries:
- Avoid prolonged French kissing, which tends to inflame sexual passion. Quick closed-mouth kisses are safest if done in limited frequency.
- Avoid laying on top of each other or prolonged full-body pressing together. Sitting upright side by side is wise.
- Avoid private caressing of one another. Keep hands in safe places like arms, upper back, shoulders, and hands. Be careful about breasts, thighs and bottoms.
- Keep kissing and cuddling from becoming self-absorbed. Seek to honor and uplift one another, not simply gratify fleshly cravings.
- Consider whether actions would stir shame or regret if a parent walked in. Things meant just for marriage are best avoided.
- Talk through physical boundaries openly to stay on the same page and respect one another.
- If your conscience is bothered, take a step back to purity and pray together about it. God will give wisdom!
Of course these are not rigid rules. Couples need to apply biblical principles prayerfully and thoughtfully based on their specific situations. But we want to glorify God with our purity and self-control. Wise boundaries can help us avoid crossing into dangerous territory.
What Does the Bible Say About Kissing and Cuddling in Marriage?
Within the marriage covenant, the Bible presents kissing and cuddling between husband and wife as beautiful, intimate, and delightful. God designed marriage as the place for romantic love and sensual connection to blossom in purity.
The Song of Solomon gives us a window into the uninhibited affection and passion shared between lovers in marriage. Verses like Song of Solomon 1:2 that say, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” show us that marriage is the perfect place for kissing, cuddling and enjoying one another to the fullest.
Several Bible passages depict newlyweds enjoying the bliss of consummating their love physically on their wedding night, such as Genesis 29:21 and Deuteronomy 22:13-21. There is clear biblical precedent for couples indulging fully in the sweetness of marital intimacy and affection once joined as husband and wife.
The Apostle Paul advocates married couples giving themselves fully to one another. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 states:
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
Paul makes clear that once married, spouses have a duty to fulfill one another’s physical needs. They have authority over each other’s bodies and should not deprive one another. Regularity of intimacy is important to guard against sexual temptation. So the Bible encourages generosity, openness and enjoyment of sexuality in marriage.
The book of Hebrews affirms the sacredness of marriage and keeping the marriage bed pure:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4)
As husbands and wives keep intimacy exclusive to the marriage, God blesses it as beautiful and precious. The marriage bed is holy and undefiled when kept between spouses. So Scripture gives married couples liberty in kissing and cuddling as an expression of their covenant union.
Principles for Kissing and Cuddling in Marriage
For married Christians seeking to apply biblical wisdom to kissing and cuddling, here are some key principles to keep in mind:
- Practice selfless love – Make meeting your spouse’s needs and blessing them your aim more than your own gratification. The motivation of love sets physical intimacy in its proper place (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
- Keep Christ central – Remind each other regularly that your union represents the love between Christ and His church. Keep your intimacy honoring to Him.
- Communicate desires openly – Talk through what touch and affection each of you most enjoys. Seek to fulfill each other.
- Be mutually submissive – Be sensitive not to force unwanted touch on your spouse. Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
- Keep it special – Don’t let kissing become so routine it loses its significance. Save special affection for special moments to keep the spark alive.
- Create space for blessing – Make sure frequent physical affection does not crowd out spiritual, emotional, or relational intimacy. Keep your whole relationship thriving.
- Set healthy boundaries – Discuss what may be unwise or uncomfortable for either spouse, such as during certain times of the month or in public settings. Respect one another’s boundaries.
The Bible does not regulate every detail of married intimacy. As long as spouses honor God, each other, and biblical principles, they have enormous freedom to enjoy creativity and pleasure in their love. Kissing and cuddling serve as beautiful acts of intimacy that God smiles upon within marriage.
I hope this overview gives believers a helpful understanding of what the Bible does and does not say about appropriate forms of physical intimacy in dating and marriage. The unmarried should exercise restraint and wisdom when kissing or cuddling to avoid igniting sexual passion prematurely. But God blesses kissing and cuddling enthusiastically between spouses as expressions of their exclusive covenant bond.
As Christians, we want to glorify God at all times with our bodies, relationships and expressions of love. Seeking wisdom from the Scriptures brings freedom, joy and confidence that our affections honor the Lord and each other. May our kissing and cuddling always be guided by biblical truth!