Monday, July 30, 2007


I haven't heard this question in 45 years or so. I remember when I went to the dance that was being held for the seventh and eighth graders of the Immaculate Conception School where I was being educated by the Presentation of Mary nuns. We were specifically told by them that kissing one another was not allowed. My mother and father specifically told me that kissing the girls was not allowed. My father, a truly God-fearing man dropped us off at the parish hall with a wink. I knew what that meant. She was a very fetching French Canadian girl, but kissing was out of the question. So, OK, this was 1949, and it happened again in 1950, with`the same girl,
Monique, by name. She was a prize and I had two great advantages over my classmates. Most of them had long decided that speaking fluent French was "old-fashioned" in the United States. Monique, only a short time here from Abitibi in Quebec was not that fluent in English. Score one for Paul. She also lived just across the field and down one street from us. Final blow for Paul. Not only did we go to the school dances together, we were friends and I even carried her books in the fine Spring and Fall weather. All this to say that we were together a lot. Finally, one day, I kissed her. BOOM? Nope. Just the sadness of seeing her return to Canada at about the
same time that I was preparing to go to the seminary in New Hampshire. Our parents gave us permission to kiss one another because we were such close friends. We were 14 and we never have seen one another again.

Telling you this story has stirred the same emotions and hormones that stirred then every time that Monique and I were together being friends. I kissed that woman once, on the cheek in front of my parents and hers. I didn't even blush and neither did she. (You know, French lovers!) Then I kissed her mother and her father and the next time we see one another will be heaven, I suppose. I knew at that moment that she had the same "spoon" stirring her emotions and hormones that had been stirring mine. I love her now as I loved her then. I know that God
taught me a lesson. He always gives you what you need, despite what you think you want.
Remember, this was in the days when postage stamps for a first class letter cost $0.03, not $0.41. The fax machine existed, but it was still classified and only the government could have one. Newspapers came to your house for $0.25 a week and an expensive bicycle cost $60.00. We had a telephone, but Monique's family did not. They did not have an automobile, but they lived only one half-mile from the bus-stop. So we would see one another every school day. Let me tell you something, I didn't need Cialis to let me know that she was on the bus. Hormones in those days had already been invented. Oh, yeah! She never sat in the same seat with me. Not
one single, solitary ride for over two years. If that's not enough to get me past St. Peter, I'm putting in a complaint.

So why didn't we kiss one another? We didn't because of two main reasons. a) We were not married, not even engaged, and b) we believed in the truth of respecting the "proximate danger of sin." Well, at least physical sin. Was it easy? Of course not. We prayed ejaculatory prayers like, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph help me." Was it easier than it would be today? Yes, I think so. We did not have so many visual and auditory prompts to keep us so manic about sensual and sexual feelings. We did not have access to drugs, although being of French extraction we did have wine handy and could have abused of it had we been so inclined. The people of today are a
lot less modest as they were then. Even in California the style of dress was not as revealing as it is now. Now, there is a lot of sin present to us every moment of every day. Satellite Radio is a stream of sex all day and all night. Television is the same. The advertising with which we are bombarded has gone from the World War II "Sweater Girl" to the 21st century bikini bombshell. Television is an ever present stream of suggestive pictures and language and I am not even going to mention the Internet.

I am now going to expose myself to ridicule because I am going to say that boys and girls should not be kissing one another until they get serious and approach marriage. Kissing in and of itself is not necessarily sinful. Kissing has several levels of meaning. Kissing your cousin, or your aunt or your mother or your grandmother is not generally sinful, it is a sign of deep respect. Kissing your dancing partner on the cheek as you deliver her to her mother on the porch would not generally be sinful. We are talking here of kissing as a sign of warm friendship, even after a date at a movie, a dinner or a dance. When I was growing up, dating and kissing did not generally occur until about 17 or 18 years old.

There is another kind of kissing, sometimes known as lip-wrestling. This is not appropriate for people who are not married to one another, no matter what age they are. Kissing is a fundamental level of preparation for intimate matrimonial activity. Engaging in this kind of behavior outside of marriage can be seriously sinful. It is behavior that will make one or the other of the two people involved ultimately regret the act. "Making-out" is sinful behavior because both people know that it is only good to satisfy their own personal passion. It is therefore morally wrong to engage in intimate kissing outside the sacrament of marriage.

By now, you are rolling on the floor laughing your head off. You're saying, "Making-out" is a sin? No way. More than likely that's because of the changed definition of dating. It used to be that dating was a "getting to know you" exercise. From what I have been told, more than once, by the way, that the definition now is, "getting to use you." It's the moment of the test drive, so of course, before you put it in gear, you rev the engine a bit. This is sinful behavior. But there has to be a middle ground. You know, Paul, everything is negotiable. No, everything is not
negotiable. You all know that to desire an evil act is evil in and of itself. It is therefore not moral to turn a good act into a bad one by misusing it. If kissing a person of the opposite sex (or of the same sex, for that matter) is going to cause immoral activity, then the kiss itself is sinful.

Finally, I have to explain an expression that I used earlier. I said that we were taught to respect "the proximate danger of sin" and to avoid it. There are two degrees of "danger of sin". One is "remote" and the other is "proximate". I'm a little round guy. So, if I decide to go to work via the road where the doughnut shop is, I place myself in the proximate danger of sin every day. Now, I also like to drink, but when I go home from work the other way, I have to pass by two bars. This is truly a remote danger of sin. I really am not big about drinking in bars. I occasionally go into one of them with a work buddy. I have one beer, we shake hands, he stays, I go home. No sin, although it could have turned into one had I abused of the situation. The chances of that were remote.

Monique and I were very normal human beings. We both enoyed being together a lot. I've already told you how I felt. A kiss for me, and for her I suppose, during one of those two wonderful dates could have turned the situation into a sinful one, in more ways than one. It would have been sinful, and still is, to place myself, and her into a proximate occasion of sin.
Paul, you are a real tightly wound old geezer. She and I have a deal. We know when and how to stop. We have rules. What's a kiss or two? Hmmm! Who brokered the deal? God? His mother, Mary? More than likely not. I don't want to shock you, but I know what a kiss or two is. I know what a 30 minute kiss does to people. I confess that I've had one or two of those along the way. Stone statues would crumble if they got the right kind of kiss. Your "deal" does not protect you without the intervention of God and His Holy Mother. The best deal is to walk side by side, sit across from each other in the restaurant, have your Mom drive you to the movie and back, invite your Mom to the prom, etc. You get the idea. Respect sows the seeds of everlasting love in the soul; self-seeking fun and games sow pain and regret.

Remember, a kiss is a sign of respect. The priest kisses the Altar, we kiss the Cross, we kiss the Bible, we kiss our Mother and our Father and others whom we respect deeply. We kiss the coffin of departed people we love. We offer one another a kiss of peace upon closing important contracts. The kiss is a very holy and prayerful act. Don't misuse it. Take guidance from your guardian angel and your love of God before you make it happen.

Oh, please say a prayer that by some miracle Monique and I can see one another again before we meet St. Peter. I would like to introduce her to my wife and children. If we don't see one another here on earth, don't cry for me because you know that I will look her up in heaven.

1 comment:

Laurence G. said...

Definitely not one of your shorter posts...

I enjoyed it... Very "old school" by today's standards, huh? But I agree.

At 24, and having never been in any intimate relationships before, I have abided by your criteria rather strictly.

I should share with you the survey data of my last psychology paper I wrote. Kissing at age 10, is the least of our worries...