Kiss Me, Baby!


KissingWould it surprise you to learn that less than half of the world’s cultures do not engage in “romantic-sexual” kissing? That’s what researchers, Jankowiak, Volsche and Garcia reported in an article in American Anthropologist in July of this year. Of 168 cultures studied, 91 (54 percent) do not associate kissing with passion. These non-kissing cultures consider the behavior taboo, bizarre or just plain “gross.”

For us, it’s the opposite. A world without kissing is unthinkable.

  • Where would Prince Charming or Sleeping Beauty be without their kisses?
  • What would pastors say at a wedding? “You may now shake hands with the bride.”
  • What would Romeo have said to Juliet? “Thus with a _____ I die.”
  • What would Ingred Bergman say to Humphry Bogart in “Casablanca” instead of “Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time!”?


Is a kiss just a kiss?

One of the study’s goals was to find out if “kissing is a human universal,” but not just any kissing… “lip-to-lip contact of an undefined period of time.” The researchers stressed that cultures that lack romantic kissing may still kiss but for different purposes. Parents kiss children. Friends kiss out of respect. defines the verb to kiss as “To join lips in respect, affection, love, passion, etc.”

Inasmuch as these other 91 cultures don’t have romantic kissing, this does not mean that they don’t have other forms of demonstrative passion. As the anthropologist Helen Fisher pointed out, people “patted, licked, rubbed, sucked, nipped or blew on each other’s faces”.


Who’s kissing?

Here is the percentage of romantic kissers in each part of the world:

Middle East       100

Asia                    73

Europe                70

North America     55

Oceana                44

South America     19

Africa                 13

Central America     0

Further, “there is a strong correlation between the frequency of the romantic-sexual kiss and a society’s relative social complexity: the more socially complex the culture, the higher the frequency of romantic-sexual kissing.” Researchers discovered that romantic kissing was present in 82 percent of the class-stratified societies and just 29 percent of those with little evidence of class divisions or stratification.


Kissing is against the law

In foreign countries? No, right here in the US.

  • Don’t kiss your wife on Sunday in Hartford Connecticut.
  • If you have a moustache, don’t habitually kiss human beings in Indiana.
  • No kissing strangers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Kissing through the Bible

“Kiss” is found 45 times in the New Living Translation. What kind of kissing do we find? First we find non-romantic kisses:

Blessing kiss

In Genesis 27:26 Isaac told Jacob to kiss him, which he did, allowing Isaac (who was virtually blind) to be duped by Jacob to believe he was Esau by his smell. Interesting that in some societies they actually kiss to smell the other person. So this was also a smell-test kiss. Whew!

Relative kiss

In Genesis 29:11 Jacob kissed Rachel when he realized she was a cousin and fit the bill for his wife. And then her dad, Laban, kissed Jacob when he discovered Jacob was a nephew.

Parent/child kiss

In Genesis 31:28 when Jacob left Laban with his wives and children, Laban was mad that he didn’t get to kiss them.

Make-up kiss

In Genesis 33:4 and 45:15 Esau kissed Jacob when they reunited, as did Joseph with his brothers.

Goodbye kiss

In Ruth 1:9 Ruth kissed her daughters-in-law goodbye, but that pesky Naomi wouldn’t leave.

Seductive kiss

Then we get to Proverbs 7:13 and the first mention of a seductive kiss offered by immoral women. That’s followed by Song of Solomon and his lessons on romance, which speak of kissing right from the beginning.

“Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

“May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— [Young Woman] Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth” (Song of Solomon 7:9).

Worship & betrayal kisses

Coming to the New Testament, Mary Magdalene kissed Jesus’ feet, but then Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

Sacred kiss

Sacred kisses appear in Paul’s epistles, not surprisingly when he addresses the churches in Corinth, Rome and Thessalonica where pagan idolatry was running rampant.


Kissing is good for you

It helps build your immune system.

It helps to bond you because oxytocin and sebum are released when you kiss.

It helps you feel good because dopamine and serotonin are released.

It relieves stress.

It releases epinephrine into your blood, which can lower LDL cholesterol.

It transfers testosterone from the man to the woman which increases desire.

It reduces blood pressure.

It relieves cramps and headaches.

It helps fight cavities.

It burns 8-16 calories.

It boosts your self-esteem and makes you more productive at work.

It tones your facial muscles.

It helps maintain and monitor the connectedness in your relationship.

It says, “I love you.”

It leads to greater intimacy.


Prescription for a healthy marriage

  • Be intentional and present. Give your spouse a 10-second kiss 4 times a day.
  • When you kiss, rub your partner’s back, cup their face, wrap your arms around them.
  • Take a sex hiatus for a week… just kiss. Watch the desire build.

It’s hard to grow apart if your lips are together. Marriage is all about connectedness.

… And then they kissed and lived happily ever after…


Patricia Hartman is a CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. She is also a speaker and author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at She is also president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.

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