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Should Christians Hug in Church?

Should you hug that guy or not hug him? Is a front hug or a side hug more appropriate?


One of you recently asked me what I think about guys and girls hugging. That’s not an easy question to answer!

I went to a school where hugging guys was no big deal. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Christian side hug years later—a “safe” hugging option designed to communicate affection while staying away from any potential sexual body contact.

Only, not every Christian is on board. For example:

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Why Not Every Christian Is On Board

Why Not Every Christian Is On Board

One godly, married man I know wholeheartedly hugs women and unabashedly tells them he loves them, with his wife looking on.

Other godly men I know never hug any woman except their wives.

And then there are those who settle somewhere in the middle with the side hug.

So you and I are left to navigate this nebulous world of hugging. (Wouldn’t it be easier if we all wore tags that told whether we were open to hugging or not?!) Unfortunately, it’s not that clear-cut.

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"A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart."

"A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart."

That’s probably because there’s nothing inherently sinful about a hug. It’s just that behind our arms, we house a sinful heart that can pervert even something good into something not good.

In my opinion, hugging has less to do with your body potentially being pressed up against someone of the opposite sex and more to do with your heart and mind.

A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart.

First Timothy 5 is clear about how we’re to interact with each other in the church:

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First Timothy 5:

First Timothy 5:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity (vv. 1–2).

We’re family now, if we have trusted in Christ and Christ alone to make things right between us and our pure, holy Father God. As family members, we are to treat older men as fathers and younger men as brothers . . . with all purity. Yes, we’re family, but we’re a holy, set-apart family.

That’s why it’s important to examine your heart before you reach out for that hug.

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When You Hug Him:

When You Hug Him:

- Is there a guy(s) you want to hug more than others? If so, why?

- What message are you hoping to send him with your hug?

- Are you purposefully trying to arouse him with your body contact?

- Do you hug him just as you would any guy? Like you would your dad or brother?

- Would you be ashamed if people could read your thoughts as you hugged him?

- Are you hugging him in public or in private? If the latter, what are you trying to hide?

- If he’s married, would his wife be comfortable with you hugging him like this?

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When He Hugs You:

When He Hugs You:

- Is this a man who cares for you in a pure way?

- Is there anything inappropriate about his hug?

- Is it a quick hug or a longer-than-necessary one?

- Does his hug make you feel uncomfortable in any way? If so, why?

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When His Hug Makes You Feel Uncomfy:

When His Hug Makes You Feel Uncomfy:

If his hug makes you feel uncomfortable, depending on the seriousness of the situation, here are some ways to stop it:

- Leave some space between you as you hug and quickly pull away.

- When he reaches out to hug you, turn and give him a side hug rather than a front-on hug.

- When he reaches to hug you, give him your hand instead. It might be awkward for a second, but he’ll get the point.

- Tell him you’re not comfy hugging him.

- Tell a trusted authority that you’re not comfy hugging him.

We'd love to hear from you. Has hugging been an unclear issue for you to navigate, too?

Article orginally published on Lies Young Women Believe. Used with permission.

Paula Marsteller no longer tries to catch guys’ attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She’s married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She’s the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on PaulaWrites.com.

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