Monday, January 13, 2014

The bane of serial huggers in church

I've pastored three churches and have visited and preached in many more. Each of these has a hug coefficient, that is, the degree to which members are accustomed to exchanging hugs as greetings. This varies not only with the church but, naturally, with individuals.

Lately, I've run into quite a few females who confide that they detest the male, serial huggers in church. These are men who insist on the double-armed, full body, bear hug from all females in church, and that every Sunday.

One such serial hugger, a member of the church staff, would enter a Sunday School room and go one-by-one to all the women and insist on one of these hugs. Other women have told me of similar individuals, some who are so creeped-out by this behavior that they would avoid such people or even drop out of Sunday School or church. Let's presume that the culprit is well-meaning and innocent and, manifestly, unaware of the reactions he is generating. But let's give this a little attention nonetheless.

Most blogs I read, and I'd guess that most of my readers, are heavily male dominated. While I would appreciate any females contributing to this particular topic, I'm inclined to advise my male colleagues to try and be more discerning about such behavior. People like their personal space and, being the polite Southern society that we are, you may not have any female tell you, "Drop the hugging, jerk. I don't like it." Try and be more observant.

I'm curious as to what the experience and observations of others are. Feel free to tell me I am overly sensitive to the subject.


Anonymous said...

I don't prefer all the hugging or all of the kissing, but am OK with shaking hands. Its expression is professional, friendly, modest, and generally does not discomfort anyone, except me when I don’t make a good connection and end up providing the other a rather weak, formless handshake. In general, all around us, whether in church, the office, and in the public arena, there seems to be too much expression of familiarity or "specialness" that is insufficiently founded. Meet someone for the first time: hug ‘em, kiss ‘em. Take comedians for example: instead of laughing, people now clap as if all jokes merit something special other than simply laughing. Clapping in church, once an expression of specialness, is prevalent even when most typically such occasions are simply most typical. It, too, is but another example of “over hugging,” so to speak. When everything is special, nothing is special, but things can be good enough, and accepted and valued as such, however, among useless words these days are “good enough.”

Ruth Ann said...

This is an appropriate use of the word "sketchy."

ALW said...

A one-arm side hug is a warm, more modest version of the full-frontal hug. Full frontal hugs between male and female parishioners are inappropriate. I have been on the receiving end of such hugs from a man old enough to be my father. And I will say that I've seen women who are just as bad. Women shouldn't drape themselves over their Christian brothers.
On a side note, I appreciate the comment from Anonymous regarding clapping for everything. One annoying trend that I'm seeing, not only in church, but in other situations such as school performances or concerts is standing for every little accomplishment. If I don't stand, I'm afraid it looks rude. Standing should be reserved for only phenomenal achievements.

Anonymous said...

I have been a pastor for 44 years and I can assure you that along with the males that abuse hugging there are plenty of females in the church who are more than guilty of the same offense. It is disgusting to have a woman frontally hug you and rub her exterior all over you so just remember that this isn't limited to men only.

Peter Reilly CPA said...

The thing that I wonder about is if the hugging is supposed to be asexual why men and women hug, women and women hug, but men and men shake hands.

Or maybe it's different down south.

Peter Reilly CPA said...

Actually my previous observation may be the answer to the problem of serial lady huggers. Assign a couple of fairly substantial guys to hug them in a brotherly sort of way.