Some Practical Applications - Kissing and Embracing
by Fr. Gerald Kelly
We have already suggested great numbers of particular applications of the principles. However, there are certain cases that are so frequently proposed that we think it might be of some help to the reader to show how the principles may be applied to these cases.
Kissing and Embracing
In some cases the application of the principles is clear; in others it is extremely difficult. It should be clear, for instance, that in the following cases, kissing and embracing are seriously sinful: a) if immodest intimacy is involved; b) if the motive of one or both parties is impure; c) if the proximate danger of something seriously sinful is involved, e.g., the parties know from experience that even modest acts generally lead to a low of control on the part of one or both.
Also, it should be clear that two people eligible for marriage and genuinely in love do not sin by manifesting their love in a modest and moderate fashion, with a reasonable assurance of controlling themselves should passion be unintentionally aroused. Again, the kiss or embrace which is according to a recognized convention of good people is not sinful. Generally speaking, such things do not arouse passion, or, if they do, it is slight and easily controlled.
Numbers of other cases are not so easily solved in a sentence or two. Certain quasi-conventions are creeping in among us that present difficulties. The kiss is coming to be a way of saying, "thank you"; also, "I like you," instead of "I love you." In particular, there is the ease in which a boy kisses a girl goodnight instead of shaking hands. That these things are established customs may be doubted. Certainly they have a tendency to cheapen the traditional meaning of the kiss and experience shows that they give rise to dangerous situations. Nevertheless, though we deprecate the tendency to set up such a custom and though we warn against the dangers, we must admit that according to the strict application of our principles, moderate kisses or embraces of this quasi-conventional kind are not sinful for those who guard against the dangers.
Kissing or embracing out of mere general sex interest in rarely, if ever, wholly justifiable. There in usually an. element of uncertain danger involved. When such acts are prolonged and accompanied by strong passion, this is a fairly good sign that the real motive is physical attraction. Even genuine lovers have to be moderate. When their embraces are repeated and ardent, even after physical passion has been considerably aroused, there is good reason to suspect that the affection they are manifesting is conjugal, that is that it includes the physical sphere. This would be seriously wrong.
An we mentioned, many of these cams are hard to answer in a general way. To give more definite answers for concrete cases, one has to know more of the frequency of the acts, the temperament of the parties, their virtue, and so forth. Hence the need of personal direction.
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Copyright © Gerald Kelly. Reproduced with permission of Fusion International. All rights reserved.