I think this is sort of the point of Jesus’ admonition that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Physical attraction is, of course, all well and good, but lending undue gravity to physical attraction can shift a relationship’s focus and stunt its emotional and spiritual progress.I’m not going to go into any more detail or define lust for you.I believe this is the attitude President Kimball meant to discourage us from applying to kissing.How is one to avoid prostituting kisses or using them to express lust rather than affection?Mormon men are being asked to serve missions at precisely the time in their lives—late teens and early twenties—when sociologists say men are most susceptible to dropping out of organized religion.Another problem for single women in the LDS church is that LDS men are delaying marriage more than ever, but they still want the option to have many children–which means their same age female peers are less desirable marriage partners due to fewer remaining years of fertility.The more pressure to serve, the more they feel obligated to leave altogether if they don’t meet this requirement (rather than remain and lose status in the community).
President Kimball’s quote goes on to explain the bounds of appropriate kissing: “Even if timely courtship justifies the kiss, it should be a clean, decent, sexless one like the kiss between mother and son, or father and daughter.” Advising us on how to put this into practice, an institute teacher once said a couple should share no more than three kisses per night for no more than three seconds each.So, in a church so obviously geared toward men, why are so many of them leaving?Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa (who also happens to be ex-LDS) considers it an unexpected byproduct of the growing importance of the mission in the life of Mormon men; faced with the choice to serve or not (at a young age when they may not be fully ready to commit), many have chosen to leave.As no kiss I have shared with my mother or any relative, actually, has even approached three seconds, I’m not quite sure how to connect those two bits of advice. Scott counseled youths to “keep your expressions of feelings to those that are comfortable in the presence of your parents.” I ran this by a newly temple-married friend of mine who told me that her parents had never seen her and her husband kiss except over the altar.(Although, she forgot to mention her engagement photos, in which their passion for kissing was advertised to us all.) The application of this counsel seems to depend on how comfortable you are with public (or familial) displays of affection.Julia Shumway grew up in Centerville, Utah, and is studying maternal and child epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.