I don’t hug girls outside my own family, and some find this policy of mine strange and unfeeling. People may go even further and say that I’m over reacting or being legalistic. I personally would argue that it is actually more caring for a guy not to hug a girl than to hug her, and there is nothing over-reactionary or legalistic about it. I’ll explain why.
With the rise of Feminism, the way women are treated by men has greatly deteriorated. Women were once placed on a pedestal—to be protected and sacrificed for. Feminists like to lament those dark days of male oppression, when women were placed at the feet of men, unable to do anything but agonize at home like Emily Dickinson. This is a myth. In the not so distant past, women were actually given more importance than they are today, at least in the extreme instances.
The call used to be for women and children first. If a building is burning down, you save the women and children first. It was understood that men would sacrifice themselves for women and children.
In the days of the Great Depression, you had the phenomenon of the wandering hobos, who would travel the country looking for work in exchange for a meal. Hobos were penniless, and at the bottom of society, and yet, they were gentlemen, and they respected others, especially women. Women could feel safe around them, even without their husbands present. Certainly there were exceptions, and they didn’t have everything right back then, but they were right on this aspect.
What do hobos have to do with why I don’t hug girls? My point is that women (and people in general) used to be treated with more respect than they are today. People didn’t go around touching each other, unless it was a good firm handshake.Feminism has taken women off of the pedestal in society they once had. Today, women are now placed on the same plane as men, no longer deserving the respect of men simply because they are women. This is why it’s not seen as such big issue when there is physical touching between guys and girls. There was a time when that would have been seen as extremely disrespectful on the part of the man, and unladylike on the part of the woman.
But just because this is the way things used to be doesn’t make it correct. I think it’s correct for other reasons.
What does it mean when you can touch something? It means you have access to it, that you have a right to it. Things you are not allowed to touch, you don’t have access to, and you don’t have a right to. Either it doesn’t belong to you, or your touch wouldn’t be good for it, like a priceless ancient artifact for instance.
I don’t have a right to touch or access the bodies of girls and women. They are sacred and do not belong to me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Furthermore, my own body does not belong to me. For me to gratuitously embrace them would be, for me, to intentionally disrespect them and myself.
Now, some people will say this doesn’t apply if the girl gives me permission to hug her. I disagree. Permission, or desire, or “feeling the need” does not change the fact that for me to compromise and act in a manner that, for me, communicates lovelessness, would be wrong. I would still be disrespecting her, only now, she is making it easier for me to disrespect her, and if she is doing so knowingly; if she is initiating physical contact despite knowing that I believe it would be wrong, then that I think, would be unladylike on her part, but would in no way leave me free of responsibility.
The actions of others do not allow me to shirk my responsibility. I may not use the willingness of others as an excuse. The true gentleman will seek to protect others, both their physical bodies and their dignity, even (and perhaps especially) when their habits or desires are at odds with their well-being.
Of course, there will be exceptions. If a woman falls down, a man should offer his hand to help her up, or any other time when a girl needs physical assistance, it’s okay. I am sure that many of you can present scenarios that would also be clear exceptions.
Touch Is Powerful
I come from a public school background, where touch is normal and everywhere. Sure, it was common to see the dating boyfriends and girlfriends kiss and hug each other in the halls, but there was also a lot of playful (and not so playful) touching between those who were not dating each other. Girls would jump on guy’s backs and guys would sneak up behind girls and wrap them in a hug.
This may all seem innocent and harmless to many, but human touch is very powerful. Touch can stir up inappropriate emotions and feelings. A guy hugging a girl while she is in a time of emotional distress is especially dangerous, as her emotional discombobulation could cause her to emotionally latch onto the guy. One hug probably won’t be enough, but if you hug once, what is wrong with doing it again, and again? Pretty soon, it’s possible that the girl—and maybe even the guy—could develop romantic feelings for each other, and they would be the result of mere emotions.
Once feelings are formed, the slope becomes much more slippery, and there is no telling what could happen if things continue on their projection, which brings me to my third point.
People will claim there are different kinds of hugs, and they all mean a different things. Maybe I’m just being a simpleton, but that sounds pretty ridiculous to me. A hug is a hug, you’re touching the other person’s body with your body. While I don’t think you’re automatically sinning if you hug someone of the opposite gender, the risk level goes up the more you do it.
Touch stirs up feelings, and these feelings may or may not lead you to sin. But the more you’re touching, the more difficult it’s going to become.
It might be a good idea to stop and consider why guys will hug girls but they think it’s “weird” or “awkward” to hug other guys.
Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to hug, or that you automatically have bad intentions if you do hug—I’m not saying that at all. But hugging the opposite gender does put you more at risk for immorality. That’s all I’m saying.
Another Point To Consider
The Bible says that it is good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1), and in the next verse it says that each man is to have his own wife, and each woman her own husband (1 Corinthians 7:2).
While I know this verse isn’t specifically dealing with casual touch, personally, I don’t want my wife hugging other men. I doubt she would want me hugging other women. We are to be faithful to our spouses, and I think that includes the years before we are married (Proverbs 31:12). I’m not going to hug girls because they’re not my wife or part of my family.
One final reason why I don’t hug girls
I don’t want to. It’s just awkward and it feels wrong to me. I don’t need to be hugged by girls, and I’ve never been in a situation where a girl “really needs a hug.” “Goodbye hugs” are the typical situations I find myself in where I have to awkwardly offer to shake the girl’s hand before she can try to hug me. I don’t need a goodbye hug, and these girls don’t need a goodbye hug from me either. That’s just making things a bigger deal than they need to be anyway.
I don’t have a problem with girls hugging each other, that’s fine. I understand that females are more in need of touch, but they don’t need to be touched by me, or other male friends for that matter.
These are my reasons for not touching girls. If you hug your friends of the opposite gender, I hope maybe you will give your hugging habits a second thought. I’m not going to say you are absolutely in the wrong if you do hug members of the opposite gender…but I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Hugs are just awkward anyway.
“Maybe one day the human race will have a big flash of inspiration and come with a more civilized way of greeting each other.”
Due to the exorbitant amount of feedback I received on this post, I needed to write a follow up post: