It is certainly true that no passage of Scripture says — in so many words, at least — "thou shalt not kiss before marriage." Having said that, I submit that there is a strong argument to be made from Scripture that there is no room for any sexual relationship outside of marriage.
The argument becomes clearer when we look at some of what the Bible has to say about (1) sex, (2) our relationships with other believers and (3) sexual immorality itself.
Let's go through what I hope will become the usual drill here.
I will lay out what I view to be applicable biblical principles and passages on this topic, and then I and the editors will leave it to you to follow up with blog posts, comments and discussion.
All of these topics will, Lord willing, be covered in future columns.
Still, the overwhelming majority of believers will only share that relationship with one person in their entire lives. Also, look at that phrase about how younger women should be treated — absolute purity.
I am obviously not saying that hugs and kisses of affection or greeting to relatives and the like is out of bounds. In some cultures, kisses of greeting — between members of the same sex or of the opposite sex — as well as hand-holding and other forms of physical expression during normal, non-romantic social intercourse, are more common. You might even be able to talk me into the notion that brief, "non-leaning-in" hugs of greeting, sympathy, etc.
between men and women who are not romantically involved are OK.
As a good initial principle here, we should affirm that sex itself (and sexual activity in general) is not inherently negative or sinful.
On the contrary, in the proper context, it is a kind and good gift of God.