Kissing is a Choice

Valentine’s Day advertisements this week were filled with kisses which got me to doing a little research. The word “to kiss” in the Anglo-Saxon, German, and Dutch is related to the word “to choose.” There is a deliberateness implied in the very nature of the word. It is also interesting that in almost every culture, kissing has something to do with breathing, or the sucking in of air- stay with me here. Even in those cultures which rub noses or faces instead of kissing, there is still the intake of air which accompanies the act. Apparently this is related to the ancient belief that a person’s soul or spirit is contained in the breath, and the act of breathing in during a show of affection is the sign of sharing one’s soul with another. OK, have I told you more than you need to know? Just a little more- the kiss in history not only has had to do with lovers, but it was also a sign of homage and adoration (Ps.2:12). Literally, the word “adore” means to “carry to the mouth.” In most cultures, equals kissed each other on the mouth or cheek. The less equal you were to the person kissed, the farther away from their face you would plant one (on the hands or the feet). If a king had gone on a journey and his feet weren’t around to kiss, you would kiss the doorknob or the ground. Am I done yet? No. Kissing was (is) also a sign of friendship and greeting. Up until the 18th century in Europe, everyone kissed everybody all the time (like shaking hands), but apparently it created a real problem between men and women. Still does. In 1837, and Englishman, Thomas Saverland, brought suit against Caroline Newton for biting his nose after he had jokingly tried to kiss her. The judge ruled in her favor. In Puritan New England, Boston’s Captain Kemble was forced to spend two hours in the stocks as a punishment for his “lewd and unseemly behavior” of kissing his wife in public on the Sabbath after three years at sea. My how things have changed! The New Testament mentions the word “kiss” 16 times mostly as an act of greeting to be carried out in the church. The books of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 Peter (5:14) all close with similar words: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” I do not believe that we have to kiss each other today in order to fulfill this command. However, we are being graphically reminded to show deliberate and appropriate affection to each other because we are part of the same family. How will you do that? Just a thought…

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