Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

...and drinks, er...hugs for all my men!

Just a short note I keep forgetting to put in, and forgot all week: I have seen the most recent trailer for the Transformers live action movie on the big screen. If you have a son/brother/husband/dad between the age of 3 and 70, you owe it to him to take him. It's gonna friggin rock!!! And now, the promised controversial post...


Allow me to open by saying that I'm not intending this as an indictment of anyone. Family, friend or other, I'm not saying these things specifically to a single person. I'm just spilling my guts on something that has bothered me for a really long time.

As a guy who is a little more, I dunno, "in touch with his feelings," I tend to come across relational issues more than other guys. I feel like the red-headed, step-child of both worlds (macho and sensitive). It makes for a no-win situation.

I'm an affectionate guy. However, most of the women I know often assume that sharing a hug will either: A. Make me uncomfortable/threaten my masculinity or B. Pose a threat to their marriage. That bothers me to no end. I get that in just about every relationship I have. This isn't something that is socially acceptable in our culture to discuss, so I just end up always feeling like I'm on the outside looking in. My personal rule to cope with this is: If they are as old as my mother, or older, I just go for it. If I make them uncomfortable, they should be mature enough to deal with it, and I'll get the necessary "body language" feedback to tell me if it was a good idea or not. Now, I don't just go around hugging anyone. I'm not a "serial hugger." I judge the appropriateness of it based on the relationship that I perceive I share with that person, through much careful consideration.

The real issue is that being perceived as a threat tends to communicate a level of distrust. That really bothers me. Big time. And that's what keeps me feeling like I'm forever on the outside looking in. There's this thought that must persist in the back of the mind, "If he's a male and expresses his affection with more than a handshake, he must be motivated by something more than innocent affection." I exist merely as pleasant company to so many of these people because if I'm any more, I'm a threat to them. That doesn't leave me with warm feelings. Sure, there are a few who do it out of deferment to my perceived masculinity. I acknowledge that. I can usually feel it when it is. However, that doesn't mean that it doesn't bother me either. It still does.

Aren't we becoming Pharisees if we set up new "laws" for appropriate extra-marital relationship conduct? What does it say to another Brother or Sister in Christ if we withhold from them the love and affection that the Lord lavishes on us (1 John, anyone?)? Does an innocent, loving and genuine hug really pose a threat to our marriage? Or do you refuse to trust another Brother or Sister in Christ? Is not trusting them (or not knowing them well enough to trust them) a godly/Christlike/biblical motive? Or is it fear/selfish?
I would hope that these thoughts would cause you who have any such men in your life to rethink how you treat them or deal with them. No risk, no reward. In the end, the only risk is how much you trust yourself. Most people don't avoid hugging me because I'm really any threat. They avoid hugging me because they are insecure (which is common in our culture, both inside and outside the Body of Christ).
This goes double for people who would call another man a "Brother-in-Christ." If you don't treat them like you would a brother born into your family, they aren't truly a Brother in your heart. It isn't a title inserted into Scripture for another purpose. It is put there to make clear the relationship, mirroring that frequently described in the Old Testament on how one Israelite was to deal with another.

I would say that goes for my Brothers-in-Christ, too. Don't let perceived masculinity get in the way of getting or giving, if appropriate, an affectionate hug. If you don't treat them like your own sister (or brother, speaking of other men), then they are not your Sister in your heart and mind. With the broad definition of sexual harassment these days, I'd caution you severely, however. Use good judgment. But don't let fear for other reasons stop you.

I guess that's my thought for the day: Fear less. Hug more.

Rereading the Beatitudes with all this in mind (all this meaning this post and everything from this week) has given me a fresh perspective on what the Gospel really is. It isn't a series of points we give mental ascent to. But...that is a post for another day (devilish laugh). '^.^'/^

(((Hugs))) both virtual and real to all of my visitors to this blog. If I saw you everyday as you read my blog, I would gladly give you the hug of a warm and loving B/brother and friend.


Looney Mom said...

I'm a crazy hugger too. Sometimes I scare myself. Oh thanks for giving me a complex... calling my picture scary. Not sure how to take that. No hug for you today.

Hee hee. JK. Love ya!

Emma Sometimes said...

I'm a hugger, too but I'm going to be totally frank here, if a guy presses up against my chest it better be my husband, doggonit. Side hugs rock.

I never considered that someone else would feel I don't trust them. That's a very new idea to me. I like to know a person before I hug them but I have no reason to trust someone right off the bat until I know their motives are pure.

You, Dr. J, may have pure motives, but you also have never had a 'God fearing' woman or man come between you and your spouse. I know of exactly what I speak.

People set those boundaries for themselves for many reasons:

Like you said, the don't trust you.
They don't trust themselves.
They have sexual abuse issues.
They like their personal space.
Perhaps they struggle with lasciviousness.

The biggest reason it is their own boundary made for themselves not for others. This doesn't make them insecure, it makes them SMART.

I do believe in hugging (very close male friends and in general, women) but if someone doesn't approach me first, I don't go there because I don't know what their boundaries are.

Emma Sometimes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KingJaymz said...

"The biggest reason it is their own boundary made for themselves not for others. This doesn't make them insecure, it makes them SMART."

Ems, I don't think most people consider this on a deep enough level to set their own boundaries. I think most people tow the legalistic line because it is what they have been taught. Either that, or they're just generally hyper-individualistic and so focused on their own lives they don't get to know others well enough to regard them warmly in that way.

You are correct, Jen and I have never had a "God fearing" person come between us. But I'm not concerned about that happening. If someone steps over that line with one of us, the other will quickly know it. I won't tolerate such a presence in my own life, and I know Jen feels the same. I can understand how that experience would impact how you deal with believers of the opposite sex. However, I didn't suggest we should just start going around hugging everybody that we know to the slightest degree.

I understand that different people have different physical boundaries (like Ox), but all I'm saying is "Would it kill another Christian, ANY OTHER CHRISTIAN (just one), to hug me on occasion? I'm married, and Jen is very good at giving me physical affection, but I fall under the category of touch starved. That's why I have such a strong stance. I can count on one hand the number of hugs I got from my dad (and they weren't terribly common from my mom, either) between the ages of 5 and 18. I had no one who hugged me much at all during my formative years.

I strongly feel that the Christian community has some sort of responsibility in meeting that need. One need not read a whole ton of the New or Old Testament to see how affectionate the early Church and Jewish culture was.

Sally said...

Here's my take: KEEP HUGGING PEOPLE!!

If they're uncomfortable with it, you'll figure it out after one hug, and then you can decide whether or not to hug them again.

I understand people being cautious about "sex" type issues or situations, but c'mon people, it's a freakin' hug! Being too sensitive to a hug reminds me of my MIL who thinks it's a sin (yes, I said SIN) for males and females to swim in a pool together (unless they're married)...because of what could happen. Really, I'm serious...so, now every time I pass by a pool where males and females are swimming together, I expect to see bathing suits being ripped off and wild orgy sex happening...because, c'mon, we all know that's what 5 year old kids are thinking about, right??

Oh sorry...a little off topic there, but the hugging thing made me think of all the ridiculous things people try to put "boundaries" on.

I admit, there are a few creepy people out there who I don't really want to hug, but one hug from one person is not going to make me burst into flames or rip my clothes off or cause any permanent damage to me or to them.

Hug away!

clumsy ox said...

Kewl! I've already got a reputation for being cold and aloof! That's a record, even for me.

But like in all things "Christian", I crave the reality behind the behaviour. I know a few people who hug a lot, but give no costly show of affection. For example, there's one guy I've invited for dinner any number of times, always to get turned down. If this guy can't eat with me (on my buck, no less); I have trouble seeing how he can justify hugging me.

Incidentally, the middle-eastern brother I mentioned on Niki's blog had demonstrated love in many concrete ways. We were honestly close friends, and it was no big deal to have him kiss me (in what is apparently the traditional middle-eastern way). But if most other people had tried something like that, I would have tolerated it quietly and freaked out for hours once I got home.

KingJaymz said...

I hear that, dude, and I thought I was clear enough on it, but your very welcome addition to this discussion expounds the point nicely.

There was an elder at the last "church" church we attended who would walk up and hug us every Sunday, but he didn't know us hardly at all. He'd ask about job situations and pray for us (which was genuinely appreciated), but he never asked us over for dinner and never accepted an invitation.

I think most Christians view people coming into the kingdom (as they visualize what the kingdom is) to be like crossing a line. "Jared crossed the line! He's in!" But, because of that, they see little responsibility to do much beyond seeing people cross the line. Unless, of course, they can build a program around it at church so it can draw some attention and money can be dumped into it (like a "mens' ministry" or a "MOPS" group). We need to start visualizing faith as a journey that we walk together. "Can someone take a few things from my pack? This camp stove is getting a little heavy!" "Sure. As a matter of fact, I've carried a camp stove just recently! Let me help you with yours!"

Hugs without real, actual commitment is like telling that person that you won't take the stove out of their pack, but you'll walk behind them and hold their pack up a bit and take some weight off. Then, you do, but for about 15 seconds and then (unconsciously) gradually letting it down so they don't notice you quit. So, there is the pretense that you're actually helping the person, and you think you are, but you really aren't.

Kisses, huh? With some of the stuff you've said before, that just makes me chuckle. Besides, you're a "Nerd god," right? Doesn't that make you cold and aloof by default? (LOL)

uberstrickenfrau said...

I'm de-lurking to throw my two cents in! The Bible says to greet one another with a holy kiss so in prospective I guess a hug seems more acceptable! In Bulgara, men kiss on the lips in greeting, rather unsettling for Americans!

Emma Sometimes said...

Ems, I don't think most people consider this on a deep enough level to set their own boundaries.

Well, if you felt the need to post about the lack of hugging, people do put boundaries up for many reasons, but who are we to question their limits? People set boundaries every day without thinking of it, like someone standing in your personal space talking inches from your face. You know what I mean. People may not have the thought process but the decider is there. Typically, it *is* just a hug but for some people it's more than that.

I guess I don't see why anyone's desire to hug due to their own issues or needs (your childhood per say) comes before my own personal space, my reasons, my body or comfort, no matter how unrealistic or seemingly silly. You can't simply assume that they don't hug you because that is the way they were raised or they fear you are going to be a pervert.

This isn't even starting on the issues like the Catholic church lawsuits, where people in Godly authority are doing much more than just 'hugging'.

If say, if commenter Sally had ever been sexually abused as a child or had a parent that encroached that line often, or even been abused by a man, she wouldn't be so quick to say, "it's just a hug." There is nothing morally wrong with NOT hugging.

I also know men who struggle with homosexuality who REALLY do not want to hug regardless of if they are brother in Christ.

My point is encroaching on someone elses boundary, subconsciously or not, is not love but controlling..and boundaries are evident because you, yourself, have observed the lack of hugging.

Okay, I've made a post here...

KingJaymz said...

I guess I don't see why anyone's desire to hug due to their own issues or needs (your childhood per say) comes before my own personal space, my reasons, my body or comfort, no matter how unrealistic or seemingly silly.

First, it isn't a desire, it is an innate human need. If an infant is not touched or held, it dies. If a teen is not touched or held, they sink into severe depression, many attempt suicide (I have walked in the depths of these valleys before, but I won't go there here).

Second, are we not our brother's (or sister's) keeper? If we are, then it isn't about us. Of course, it isn't about us anyway. It's about Jesus. And He was a hugger, too.

Listen, I'm not saying that you, personally, have to hug everyone. I'm saying, "Why the hell is it to much to ask for another human being who claims to follow Christ to give a damn enough about another human being who is hurting to reach out to them and fulfill an innate need?" Not a desire, a need. There's a world of difference.

MugwumpMom said...

I'm also delurking to weigh in (which is as a good a time as any to tell you I've been lurking for some time now, having popped over from Liz's, and enjoy your posts...but I digress)

I've been reading the comments on this post, and I find it interesting that there is a suggestion that hugging needs boundaries in case, among other things, one might unknowingly (oh, God forbid!) hug an adult survivor. What will happen??? As a women who survived childhood sexual abuse, and who is walking out a healing more and more everyday, I can vouch that a good healthy hug was one of the many healing touchs God used to show me that there are wonderfully safe people out there who love like He did....and they can hug me any day. And like most people, if someone is hugging me for lechers sake, I'll know it - and it's my responsibility to set the boundary, and tell them "no hugs please".

There is healing in a hug - and touch - Jesus was indeed a hugger, heck, He kissed and touched lepers, and gathered children onto His lap - wonder what "they" would say about a pastor doing that today?!

It's a pity that fear and caution have worked there way into the Body, so that innocent greetings of touch and hug are miscontrued or analyzed to death. I say "hug away" and trust that those who don't like it will gently say so.

cathouse teri said...

Are talking hugging on a scripturally based level? You have a lot of issues going on, coming from many sides.

I don't believe I have ever been offended because someone hugged me. I even have a few men who hug me just so that they can feel my breasts against their bodies. This is not offensive to me one bit. My breasts are here for enjoyment! ;)

I knew a man at church who would only hug with his face positioned on your left side. He says he reserved the right for his wife alone. That is how he dealt with the "controversial" implications, whilst doing his part to avoid the very appearance of evil. It's just a line he drew, out of respect for her. I also knew a married man I dated who would do ANYTHING sexually with me, but never penetration, because he reserved that for his wife.

My, my ... the lines we draw for ourselves go all the way across the board!

I say hug all you want to. If someone doesn't like it, apologize and let them know you didn't mean anything by it and move on. Just don't hug them again. Those are THEIR boundaries that you ought to respect. There is no need in trying to discern whether or not someone is gonna take it for what it is.

Now be a good boy and go apologize to my ba doozie before I spank you.

McBunni said...

Hot button issues are always fun to discuss.

DISCUSS. It's ok to state your opinion...but don't imply that people are "wrong" if they don't agree with you.

I think it is completely inapropriate to hug someone you don't know very well. I think a friendly handshake would be just fine.

If you came up to someone with OCD and who was a germ phobe and hugged them, they would probably have an anxiety attack. Would that make them wrong or wierd or not a Christian?

Do everyone a favor...don't hug them unless they are your close friend or family. Handshakes or a friendly wave will suffice.

KingJaymz said...

"I think it is completely inapropriate to hug someone you don't know very well. I think a friendly handshake would be just fine."

That is a value that you were raised with. That is merely an opinion, not fact.

"If you came up to someone with OCD and who was a germ phobe and hugged them, they would probably have an anxiety attack. Would that make them wrong or wierd or not a Christian?"

This is side-tracking, and, once again, I addressed this in the body of my post.

"Do everyone a favor...don't hug them unless they are your close friend or family. Handshakes or a friendly wave will suffice."

mcbunni, honestly it doesn't even sound like you read my post and that you are commenting based on what other people wrote.

If you reread this post again, carefully, I'm sure you'll find that I addressed every point you made in your comment.

Niki said...

Wow! I'm surprised at some of the comments here and I did't even get to read the really mean ones! Let me start by saying that Jared, I understood your heart behind this post. I knew what you were saying and not saying so I'm shocked at the leaps and assumptions made by some of the people here. You weren't saying your needs above anyone else's or that other people's boundaries are silly and stupid. Oh boy...I'm working at being nice.

Sally and Looney Mom - you rock!

I especially LOVED Sally's comment. We work with streetkids, most of whom have been abused sexually/physically/mentally/spiritually and every other way you can think of. They crave positive touch. Yes they have boundary issues and yes, they are hyper-sexual sometimes. If you pay attentnion, your subconscious mind lets you know when someone is "dangerous" or a pervert, or trouble. It's that built in fight or flight that God gave us. And guess what mcbunni? They aren't our close friends and family - but God put us in their lives to meet their needs...one of them being positive touch. Oh there's so much more I could say about this. I guess that will be my next blog post!

"Do everyone a favor" is very condescending and childish.

I thought you explained yourself - defended yorself very well. No need to apologize to anyone since this is YOUR BLOG!

Some of the catty comments you got were ridiculous and uncalled for. I'm sorry you got dumped on today. Sometimes that whole "freedom of speech" thing is tough. Keep hugging friend!

Dapoppins said...

I base my hugging on the situation, but like other women, I avoid the chest press because it makes me uncomfotable to hug a guy, even some girls, that way. As a general rule, I avoid touching men who are not relatives and who are not my husband.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

The Family Jewels said...

I am one who went trough a period of time where I though I knew better than God, so I made really bad choices and got very badly hurt. Thankfully God is so much bigger than my own ego and when I cried out for help I received the greates hug I had ever received. After many years and slipping back into the past feelings of being intentionally hurt and thinking I was hiding from God I was convicted at a women's retreat weekend. I received some hugs from others who have now become sisters and brothers in Christ...they helped me to finally give it all back to Him. I got another hug from God and am now working on breaking down all of the walls I have put up around me that I thought were keeping me safe. It is hard to receive physical hugs from others, but with lots of prayers I am starting to breathe again while others are hugging me.

My husband and I do foster care and we are seeing kids who have NEVER been hugged before, so as they feel comfortable they receive loads of hugs.

I now view hugs as God's love passed through the open arms of others that are ours to receive freely...I just need to remember to breathe.

Anne said...

Well, I have to say that I loved the post. I'm a firm believer in what Niki calls "positive touch". I will either hug or at least touch someone in some way when I speak to them. I believe it gives them a feeling that I care about them and am focused on THEM. I myself sometimes feel uncomfortable when being hugged by some people - but I know it's just me and I need to let that person do what God intended for them to do. We should GIVE and ACCEPT with a humble, loving heart.

I have so much more to say but I guess I'll save it.

Delia said...

Wow! I'm not around for a few days and look at what all I've missed! I'm not even going to comment on the earlier posts...just know that whether I agree or disagree, you're my Brother and to me that's all that matters.

Now, onto this hugging business...

I say...Hug, hug, and hug some more. I'm a firm believer in a friendly, loving hug. Like a lot of others have said, if the person isn't comfortable with it you'll know it and then just don't hug that person anymore.

Also, in response to one of the earlier comments...I know a person who is "germaphobic" and they would rather give you a hug where their clothing touches your clothing than shake your hand where the skin touches. I'm not saying all people who have a germ phobia prefer hugs, but not all of them prefer handshakes either.

cathouse teri said...

I'm glad God never runs out of hugs.

Gwen said...

It took me a while to find this old post!

I saw this and thought of you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4