Couples Save First Kiss for Wedding Day

12:36 PM, May 3, 2009   |    comments
Katy and Ernie Kruger's first kiss was on their wedding day.
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (The Tennessean) -- December 13th was Katy Kruger's wedding day. It was also the day she had her first kiss.

The 22-year-old woman, who was married at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ in Brentwood, admits to being nervous and a bit self-conscious about having her first kiss in front of 200 people.

"I wasn't sure what to do," said Kruger. "I thought I would mess up."

But after that initial smooch - which was met with spirited applause and cheers - Kruger quickly recovered. "It was so natural that I went back for another," she said.

In a culture where casual sex is the norm, some Tennesseans have taken the purity pledge to a whole new level, through a practice that some teens refer to as the "Virgin Lips Movement."

Religious leaders say these examples of super-abstinence deserve admiration, not derision. Especially in a time when the only social taboo seems to be violating the "third-date rule." (For those unfamiliar with it, that means waiting until the third date to have sex).

"Even among Christians this is rare. All of those success stories need to be known," said Alec Cort, Tulip Grove Baptist Church's minister to students. "They should be shouted from the mountaintops. It's an extremely difficult thing to do, and it should be celebrated."

While stories about Bristol Palin getting pregnant or a young woman calling herself "Natalie Dylan" trying to auction off her virginity on the Internet are almost impossible to miss, the tales of people like Kruger and Larry Harold largely go unheard.

Harold, 35, of Spring Hill, decided to save his first kiss for his wedding day when he was in just the eighth grade, after a youth pastor mentioned the idea. He hopes his story will inspire other young people who want to do the same.

"It can happen," he said.

And Harold and Kruger both say they're glad it did.

"It was so important to me because I felt a kiss was something very intimate, and something I wanted to give only to one man, to my husband," said Kruger, who is currently living in South Africa with her husband, Ernie. "He thought it was so special, and he was so proud to be able to be the only man I will ever kiss."

Harold said saving his first kiss on his wedding day guaranteed that his marriage wasn't based on "the physical."

"I wanted to make sure it was based in the spiritual and emotional," he said. "I had faith that the rest would come later."

Unrealistic expectation?

There are no Gallup polls on how many people are trying to save their first kiss for their wedding day, so concrete statistics are difficult to come by.

Cort believes it's rare, but maybe not as rare as the general public thinks. In the 15-plus years he's been working with teens, roughly 20 have approached him about wanting to save their first kiss for their wedding day.

"I have always encouraged those people," Cort said. "It sets the ultimate bar."

Jessica Valenti, author of The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, notes that 95 percent of Americans have premarital sex, and trying to save your first kiss for marriage may be an unrealistic expectation.

If teens don't succeed: "It's a huge letdown," she said. "They feel like failures."

Valenti said teens should be judged on values such as intellect, courage and integrity, not their sexuality. "The idea that's communicated is that if you have sex you're used goods," she said.

But some teens who want to save their first kiss say they feel more pressure to have sex than to abstain.

"I've been made fun of for this decision, but I remind myself what's important," said Jolene Kasten, 17, of Scottsville, Ky. "Being a Christian I believe that's what God wants me to do. Wait."

Kasten, who is home-schooled, said she first considered the idea at age 15, after her mother brought up the issue. But she stresses that the decision was hers alone.

"The way I see it, if you kiss before you're married, you could be kissing someone else's husband or wife," she said.

'I felt very loved'

Megan Bryant, 17, said her friends are also "weirded out" by her plan.

The Goodlettsville teen said they pepper her with questions about chemistry: How will she know whether she wants to marry someone unless she has sex with them or at least kisses them?

Her answer, "I'm not going to marry someone because they are a good kisser."

Bryant said she decided to save her first kiss after reading a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. The book - which came out in 1997 - is kind of the Virgin Lips Movement bible.

"I read the book and I was like, 'Wow. Somebody has done this,' " Bryant said. "What's a better gift than your first kiss? I don't want to waste something that special."

Farrah Clark, 15, said she also decided to save her kisses after reading the book. She said in an effort to avoid temptation she has decided not to date until she goes to college.

"It's a whole lot easier not to date," said Clark, of Linden, Tenn. "Then you don't have to worry about doing anything."

If it's any consolation to aspiring teens, Harold, a fifth-grade teacher, said it wasn't as hard as it sounds.

"It took the guesswork out of it," he said. "It wasn't like when or where because I knew I wasn't going to."

And he said the women he dated thought it was pretty cool.

"I felt very cherished and loved that my husband cared enough to wait," said Harold's wife, Elaine, who had one kiss, "a peck" really, before she was married. "Especially because men are wired differently."

And how was that long -- awaited first kiss?

"My wife said it was pretty slobbery, but what do you do," Harold said. "I definitely needed practice."

While the first kiss may have been slobbery, Elaine Harold said the couple was a quick study and she wouldn't change a thing.

"It was very special to know that was something we saved and no one can take that away from us," said Elaine Harold.

"It gives a whole new meaning to 'You may now kiss the bride,' " her husband said.

Harold said saving his first kiss on his wedding day guaranteed that his marriage wasn't based on "the physical."

"I wanted to make sure it was based in the spiritual and emotional," he said. "I had faith that the rest would come later."


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