I kiss a lot of people. I have a wife. I have seven children. They all get kisses from me. I kiss my family members. I kiss the hands of priests. I kiss the Bible. I kiss the cross and pictures of Christ, Mary, and the saints.
Kissing is biblical. At one time, Christians always greeted each other with a kiss. In fact, the Bible commands it: “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:16).
Now your atheist friends probably have a hard time understanding the meaning of a kiss. According to evolutionists, the human kiss evolved in this way…
Secular anthropologists have concluded that the kiss originated by proto-human mothers chewing up food and that spitting it into the mouth of their infants – mouth to mouth. There were no food processors. Just teeth.
According to evolutionists, the mouth to mouth connection began as a means of survival. The infant associated the mouth to mouth experience with with the pleasure of eating. Over thousands of years, the “kiss” became a part of biological survival. It became, they claim, a universal feature of pleasure, joy, and connection for human culture.
Hmmm. Mommy spitting food into a two-year old’s mouth. That’s pretty gross. Is that really the reason why I kiss my wife when I come home from work?
Is regurgitating food truly the origin of the kiss? I don’t think so.
The first recorded kiss in the Bible is actually between father and son. Between Isaac and Jacob.
“Isaac said to him: Come near me, and give me a kiss, my son. He came near, and kissed him. And immediately as he smelled the fragrant smell of his garments, blessing him, he said: Behold, the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath blessed.” (Genesis 27:26–27, D-R)
The kiss, it would seem, does not arise from regurgitating food into the mouth of children. The kiss can be a romantic sign between lovers. It can be for children or grandchildren. It can be religious. Monks kiss each other. Priests kiss the altar. We can kiss the ring of a bishop or the hand of a priest. We kiss icons. We kiss granny. Hopefully, no food is exchanged in any of these encounters!
So what’s in a kiss? Why do we put our mouth on people and things? How does it show love and/or reverence?
To discover the theology of the kiss, we must discover the theology of the face and the mouth in particular. This could be a whole book, but I’ll keep it short.
In Sacred Scripture, the mouth is the portal of the soul. The mouth, more than the eyes, reveals the nature of the soul. For example:
“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his soul: but he that hath no guard on his speech shall meet with evils.” (Proverbs 13:3, D-R)
“The heart of the wise shall instruct his mouth: and shall add grace to his lips.” (Proverbs 16:23, D-R)
“She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26, D-R)
“But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man.” (Matthew 15:18, D-R)
“From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Humans are rational, intellectual creatures and our rationality is expressed chiefly through our mouth. God the Father reveals Himself through His Word – the Second Person of the Trinity. We also reveal ourselves through our words via the mouth. This is why Saint Bernard said that the Incarnation of Christ was the “kiss” between God and the world.
I would suggest to you that the placing of a mouth on something (a kiss!) is a human act that communicates this reality: “I submit my intellectual nature to you and your service.” By kissing we give our mouth to the other person. We give them our soul, our heart, and our thoughts.
We cannot literally remove our intellectual soul and give it to someone. Instead, we give them our mouth. As Christ says, “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” As we all know, a kiss says more than words.
This is why humans kiss each other and this is why kissing has been romantic, filial, and especially religious throughout human history.
PS: It’s notable that heretics in the past have objected to kissing statues, Bibles, and icons for the reason that it signifies a rational soul placing itself under an inanimate, non-rational object. Catholic theologians have always responded that the kiss passes on to the higher reality. As when we kiss the photo of a loved one who is absent, that affection is intended to the person, not the paper. So also, a kiss to the Bible passes to the Holy Spirit, and a kiss to statue of Jesus passes to Jesus.
PPS: This is also why people love to have their babies kissed by popes and famous people. It’s the highest honor. Much better than a handshake!
Question: Do you think this “theology of the kiss” is accurate? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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