Monday 20 February 2006

The theology of kissing

At one of my favourite new blogs, Per Caritatem, there is a marvellous post on the philosophy of kissing. So I thought I’d offer my own list here on “the theology of kissing”:

Augustine: You awaken me to delight in your mouth, and my lips are restless until they’re kissing you.

Luther: If the Word of God tells me to kiss, then I will kiss—and let the pope, the world and the devil be damned!

Adolf von Harnack: Jesus’ own simple teaching about kissing was immediately eclipsed by the early Christians’ Hellenistic approach to kissing.

Karl Barth: “I kiss you.” There are three related problems to consider here. I kiss you. I kiss you. I kiss you.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Kissing is not only true and good, but it is beautiful.

Hans Küng: The Church’s approach to kissing is in urgent need of the most radical and most far-reaching reform.

Wolfhart Pannenberg: One’s first kiss is a proleptic anticipation of all that is still to come.

N. T. Wright: Every kiss is a dramatic enactment of our return from exile.

Billy Graham: Will you walk down the aisle and kiss me tonight? Will you do it tonight? You many never have another chance—you might be dead tomorrow!

Gerd Lüdemann: After many years of careful research, I have decided to kiss my faith goodbye.


Wayne Leman said...

Out of the mouths of theologians comes such great wisdom! What a kick, Ben! Thanks for giving me a good laugh in the middle of my work afternoon.

::aaron g:: said...

Ben, you might like to check out Martin E. Marty's article, "Pucker up" in the January 24 issue of The Christian Century. MEM discusses Michael Penn's book, Kissing Christians .

According to the article and book, in the early church there were 3 kinds of kissing:
osculum - a ceremonial kiss of friendship
basium - a kiss of affection on the lips
suavium - a lover's kiss involving the tongue

Chris Tilling said...

Hands up those who've tried to use Rom 16:16 as a proof-text for getting a snog from good looking Fundie.

Cynthia R. Nielsen said...


This is great! Leave it to the theologians to be creative.

I personally liked the Augustine and Hans Urs von Balthasar kiss, though the N.T. Wright kiss is a close second.

Ben Myers said...

Oh, and I've just added one more to the list: Pannenberg.

Anonymous said...

Calvin(ism): Even though you don't deserve me, I chose to kiss you.

Moltmann: A kiss is a present promise of the future hope. Yeah baby!

Anonymous said...

One is left wondering whether any of these great theologians has ever had a really juicy mouthy snog in his life. What we have here, with a few exceptions, is a docetic theology of the kiss. It is certainly a far cry from the ADULTS ONLY Song of Solomon! And where is a woman's input?

I always liked Wood Allen's reply to the question "Is sex dirty? "It is if your're doing it right!"

Chris Tilling said...

Yea, Kim. Away with docetic kisses, and in with the 'gift of tongues'.

Ben Myers said...

Kim, I thought about including a woman's perspective. But according to writers like John Piper and Wayne Grudem, only men should be permitted to kiss: the Bible clearly forbids women from participating in certain roles....

Anonymous said...


::aaron g:: said...

Marcus Borg: I'd like to kiss you again, for the first time.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain must have been thinking of the homes of the likes of Piper and Grudem when he referred to "That kind of so-called housekeeping where they have six Bibles and no corkscrew."

And again: "To the pure, all things are unpure."

jonny said...

nice blog - hae linked to this post and added you to my links. cheers

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jonny -- and thanks for linking too. Here's one more:

Thomas Aquinas: "There are five ways to prove the existence of a kiss...."

mark said...

Walter Brueggemann - "There is the kiss and the counterkiss and if one wins, we both lose."

nice post..


Ben Myers said...

That Stanley Hauerwas one definitely takes the cake! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Of course the Christian Right have plagiarised Casablanca for one of their keynote hymns:

But just remember this,
A kiss is just a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

Play it again, Pat!

Ben Myers said...

For some excellent patristic additions to the kissing list, see the post at Nelmezzo.

Anonymous said...

Meister Eckhart:
I kiss God and God kisses me. We kiss with the same lips.

Unknown said...

Excellent! I couldn't resist elaborating over at my own blog --


Anonymous said...

Tis nothing but the mere pleasure of God, yea, his mere arbitrary will alone, that alloweth a miserable creature like thee the pleasure of kissing for one moment.

Jonathan Edwards

Caelius said...

Thomas Aquinas : Kissing is an occasion of lust unless it is the custom of the country.

(Paraphrase of the Summa)

gendomike said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gendomike said...

That was great! My New Testament professor showed us this page at the beginning of class, and that was a good laugh. I've included some of the jokes in the post as well as the comments in my new podcast, This Evangelical Life. Thanks for the laughs and the source material!

Anonymous said...

But who said that "religion is a kiss for the masses?"

Libby said...

What about the Anselmian Kiss: The kiss that than which a greater cannot be conceived.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I ended up here, but could we back up.. is there a theology of 'hello'? (That'd be Thomas A. again, right? *sigh..)

This thread is hilarious. Nice blog.

T. Hahm said...

Gerhard Forde - "Before kissing, we must first make a couple of moves."

Anonymous said...

I'm probably going to get shot down for this, but oh well here goes:

Tertullian: "I kiss, because it is absurd"

Great job with the rest of them though.

Unknown said...


The kiss is dead.

Anonymous said...


The economic kiss is the immanent kiss and the immanent kiss is the economic kiss.


I kiss in order that I may understand.

Anonymous said...

We forgot Alasdair MacIntyre - Surely, after virtue comes "Which Kiss? Whose Lips?"

Michael Raimer-Goodman said...


In a land where everyone kisses, nothing is a kiss.

I know I'm late on posting, but these are great!

Ekaputra Tupamahu said...

Interesting and Funny also... Thank you

helen said...

kiss is not just a kiss! Kiss is the whole world in your lips!

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