Would Jesus Snuggle?

The other day one of my friends posted a link on facebook that just stopped me.  I wasn’t even sure exactly what to do with it – it’s just dumbfounding.  And yet . . . it’s not.  Which is why she posted it.

There is a new place called The Snuggery.  Basically the idea is that we all need physical touch and intimacy.  It brings healing and comfort.  But sense most people don’t have it, this lady has started a business.  I’m not making this up.  For $50 you can have a 45 minute snuggling session.  There are two professional snugglers.  You can snuggle with both for $100.  Again, I’m not kidding.

It’s not to be sexual and it must be fully clothed (pajamas are ok though).  Just wear what you are comfortable in.  You can talk or not talk.  Whatever you want.  You just snuggle. You get to be touched.

I’m literally not sure whether to laugh or cry.  Seriously.  In a way it breaks my heart.  This is where we are at as a society.  We are this alone.

Now I guarantee there are some married people who haven’t snuggled at home in a while, which is tragic.  But as a single person this is a huge issue.

I mentioned this in one of my first blogs.  One of the absolutely hardest things as a single is the lack of touch.  And the older you get, the more this is true. What these ladies have right is that touch matters.  Under the heading of WHY SNUGGLE they list out the benefits of intimate, nonsexual touch.  They aren’t wrong about any of it.  And as their lead sentence says, “Why Snuggle? Quite simply because it makes us feel good.”

But if you are single what do you do with this?  If it is true that we need touch, what do we do?

The problem is exasperated by several things.  First off we have had a lot of bad physical touch in our culture.  Over the course of their lifetime 28% of kids age 14-17 have been sexually violated in some way.  This doesn’t even begin to include physical abuse or physical neglect.  That is the world we are growing up in.

Secondly, we have a much more isolated world.  We are way more likely to work alone, and 28% of us live alone. (Now if half of us are married that means that 50% of single people live by themselves.)  That does not lead to good touch.  It leads to isolation.

Finally, partly in response to all of the above and the sexually immoral culture that we live in, the Church has told us not to touch anyone.  Kiss dating goodbye.  Don’t touch or it could lead to sex.  I get it, I really do, but man, if we don’t touch at all, that can’t be good.  We can’t live in fear and call it religion.

I can speak from personal experience here.  I went 10 years without kissing anyone (age 25-35).  Most of that was spent with very little touch.  There were lots of reasons.  But to be honest as I turned the corner of 30 I was messed up, and I’d say lack of touch contributed to that.  I remember feeling awkward even hugging sometimes.

I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure how to fix all this.  I’m not suggesting the Church start establishing Christian Snuggeries.  But I know that we need an answer.  We need something different than “don’t have sex” and “don’t go to far”.  Why should two women be addressing this while we stand on the sidelines?

Appropriate touch is vital.  I can’t remember where I saw it but there is a video of nuns in a poor country taking in dying children.  You know the first thing they did?  They hugged them and held them for extended periods.

In Mark 2 a leper approaches Jesus.  Back then, lepers were separated out and seen as unclean.  They were to avoid contact with the “clean” people at all costs.  In fact there was a six foot rule that said no one was supposed to be within six feet of them.

But as this guy approaches Jesus, he doesn’t move out of the way.  Now Jesus could have said the word and this man would have been healed of leprosy.  But he still would have been untouched, and maybe people would have wondered, “is he really well?”

In one of the most simple, powerful moments in Jesus’ ministry, he reached out and touched the man.  He knew he needed more than a physical healing – he needed to know he was touchable.

Somehow we have to rescue this.  We have to know that not only are we “Christian” or “Saved” but that we are touchable.  Whatever message we send the single person, that has to be part of it.

Have you ever suffered from lack of touch? Where do you go for appropriate touch?

To Kiss Or Not To Kiss

My first kiss from anyone other than a relative came in first grade.  It was right after school and this girl named Lori came up on the playground, grabbed me and kissed me. . . ON THE LIPS.  It was scandalous but it wasn’t sex.

I want to write today about kissing.  I want to say up front that I’m not expecting everyone to agree with what I say here today and that’s ok.  I’ve been on every side of this in my 20 years of singleness.  I’ve messed it up on both sides. So let’s get real.

First a brief Justin kissing history.  In high school, I kissed exactly one person.  Not because I didn’t want to, or because I thought it wrong, but because I didn’t know how to go about it and I was not super popular with the ladies.  When I got to college that all changed and I kissed pretty much every girl I went out with, usually on the first date.  It was fun.  I didn’t fool around with them, and I didn’t have sex with any of them.  I don’t think it scarred anybody.

Then came my 20s and what I call the religious dating revolution of the 90’s.  This was led by I Kissed Dating Good Bye and other such books.  As I shared in an earlier post, I dated (courted, talked with, whatever she called it) a girl who went by a book with a chart.  No kissing allowed.  Now a lot of this made sense to me.  I’d seen a lot of people fall into temptation.  Then and now I get the argument.

I went ten years without kissing anyone.  TEN years.  

Now this started out as a religious “date right” decision.  Then there was a time when there just wasn’t many options and my head was buried in ministry.  But when I looked up after about five years I was in a new city, 31 years old, and had no confidence in this area of my life (not to mention no physical intimacy).  I had new reasons for not kissing.  In the back of my head was still the religious reasons, including “guarding the girl’s heart” (which mostly guarded her heart from liking me – ha) and frankly it had been a long time – could I deliver? I think it hurt me and helped keep me single.

Then I went on a date with a girl who pretty much did what Lori did in first grade – except in a car.  It was still scandalous, and it still wasn’t sex.

Sense then I’ve been on a lot of dates and God has walked me through a lot of stuff.  I’ve maybe kissed a couple of people I shouldn’t have and maybe even missed it when I should have.  But here’s what I’ve come to believe.

I think kissing is ok.

In fact I think if you haven’t kissed by the third or fourth date you are in trouble.  You are quickly approaching the no chemistry zone.  Now the exception might be if you have both talked about it and said you don’t want to – that’s totally fine – your call. But I’m saying I think kissing is fine, in fact I think it’s good.  I don’t think it’s sex or has to lead to it.

I’ve already talked about not having sex outside of marriage and I want to talk more later about having some healthy physical boundaries but when it comes to kissing I say yes please.

But. . . some important parameters.

First off, if you are not interested in the girl, then don’t kiss her.  For the love do I need to type that?  We’ve all had dates we just weren’t into. But here is where the third date thing comes into play.  If by the third date you don’t want to kiss her, then probably it’s time to not date her.  Sometimes we are passive about ending stuff.  More on that soon.

This brings us to point two.  This all assumes that the reason you are dating is to find someone to marry.  I’m not talking here about running around kissing different random people.  That is definitely not ok.  I’m talking about you are trying to find a spouse and you meet someone you like and it is progressing.  I think it is ok, good in fact, to kiss that person.

There are lots of traps that you can fall into, for example kissing all the time and never actually talking.  But there are traps with being so religious that you don’t have any physical contact.

So, what do you think?  When is it ok to kiss?  Is it good, bad, or does it even matter? What does a kiss mean to you?