Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Sense of Touch

Two passages used to support the idea that couples should not kiss or hold hands before marriage are Conjugial Love 210 (“the special sense of conjugial love is the sense of touch,”) and Arcana Coelestia 3573 (kissing means “a uniting and joining together resulting from affection”). Theolog Coleman Glenn provides good perspective on this.
Conjugial Love 210 in context is just saying that touch is specifically connected to marriage, not that it is only appropriate for marriage. And Arcana Coelestia 3573 is actually about a son kissing his father. In our culture, it's true that kissing is almost always a romantic thing, and I think most of the kissing that takes place between boyfriends and girlfriends SHOULD be saved for later - but I like cultures where kissing is just a show of ANY kind of affection, even between people of the same sex.

My thoughts on touch before marriage mostly comes from general teachings and my experience rather than particular passages. Basically, it seems to me that a lot of physical affection before marriage takes away some amount of freedom, because it links a couple in a special, exclusive way, which makes it harder for either of them to look around at other people.

In addition to this, though, I think a lot of physical touch makes a person (and maybe this particularly applies to men?) unable to see the relationship as clearly, since it can bring his/her mind down to a lower level. I can think of a passage to support this one: Conjugial Love 305:2.

That number is specifically talking about betrothed people, and I'm fairly sure “physical conjunction” refers to sex, but the principle is the same: things that come from a natural, physcial desire get in the way of a proper progression of conjugial love.

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