What, No Kissing?

This is a guest post by Mac

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our series on sex and dating.  This week’s topic will be premarital romantic involvement.  Here’s the link.

One thing that I will say for Scott Croft is that he is not an insane fundamentalist (like Jack Schaap or others of his ilk).  He acknowledges that the question “are unmarried couples allowed to kiss?” has many varied answers within the Christian faith.  His basic argument on the topic is a syllogism.  A syllogism is a proof in three parts with two premises that lead to an inescapable conclusion.  His works thusly:

  1. All sexual activity before marriage is sin
  2. All romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity
  3. Therefore all romantically oriented physical activity is sin

All you philosophy majors should recognize that this is a valid syllogism, and therefore if the premises are true, then his conclusion is true.  Let’s see if he can prove them.

He highlights the fact that the physical activity has to be romantically oriented, and even acknowledges that different cultures have different rules as to what constitutes “romantically oriented.”  However, he often fails to acknowledge this gap between our culture and Biblical culture.

Now, I have no problem with his initial premise that sex before marriage is not right.  I might have different reasons for believing that then he does (he thinks that the reason is purity while I do not), but on the basic principle, I agree.

It’s the second premise that romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity that I disagree with.  He goes about his proof, by looking at the fact that we as Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ.  He then uses that passage from 1 Timothy 5:1-2 to show that romantic physical activity is sinful (the one that tells men to treat women like family), pointing out that there is no romantic involvement between family members (excepting the husband and wife).

In 64 CE the Great Fire of Rome began.  This was under the reign of Nero, one of the great tyrants of Rome.  Some suspected Nero of starting the fire.  Nero blamed the Christians to take the heat (no pun intended) off of himself.  One of the arguments that he used was that Christians called themselves brothers and sisters and they married each other.  Therefore, Nero concluded, they were incestuous.  Now, we all know that such an argument was a huge misunderstanding that tragically led to the mass persecution of Christians.  Croft is making the same misunderstanding, by taking these passages too literally.  Once again, if we took that passage literally, Christians wouldn’t breed.

The next passage he uses speaks about defrauding one another (1 Thess 4:3-8).  He interprets defrauding as implying a level of relationship commitment that is not there.  Now, I personally believe that by holding hands with my girlfriend (romantically oriented physical activity), I am implying a relationship of boyfriend and girlfriend.  And what do you know, that is our relationship!  But even this passage is being taken out of context.  The word for “defraud” is better translated “overreach” as Countryman translates it.  Also, it doesn’t talk about defrauding each other in romantic relationships, but of overreaching one’s brother in property matters.  In other words, it’s about not stealing someone else’s significant other and has nothing to do with holding hands, romantic hugging, or kissing before marriage.

Croft’s basic problem in this article is his attempt to build a “fence around the Torah” regarding sexual purity.  Sex before marriage is rightly prohibited; however the fence he builds is so far away from it that we must ask, “where is the grace?”  Where is the freedom in Christ?  I agree that we are not to use that freedom for licentiousness, but he is so afraid of licentiousness that he teeters on the verge of legalism.  Praise be to God that we are set free from both the power of sin and the power of legalism.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.