Posted by: Heather | July 11, 2013

Maybe It Is Good for a Man not to Touch a Woman

Image courtesy of bulldogza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bulldogza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The issue of touch keeps coming up. It was in the Mikvah/Niddah lesson about husbands and wives not touching during the Niddah and Purification days. Then a friend pointed out that the first use of “touch” in scripture is from Eve’s answer to the serpent in the garden–with interesting implications still under review. In the meantime, I ended up learning a little about practices of yichud (not secluding oneself with one person of the opposite sex outside the immediate family–a doctrine I first encountered in the United Pentecostal Church, interestingly enough), and that led right back to the touch issue and Paul, who says to the believers at Corinth that “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (ESV 1 Cor.7.1).

Boy, there are a lot of wild theories about what not touching means in that verse. And of course there would be when a person looks at that outside the cultural context. That may seem like an odd thing for Paul to say unless you’re familiar with a practice called shomer nigiah, a neighbor of yichud, a practice of not touching people of the opposite sex–affectionately–outside one’s immediate family. I mentioned in passing that the Niddah (menstrually impure) woman doesn’t have to worry about other men touching her because of modesty reasons, not impurity reasons. Well, here you go: if you’re practicing shomer nigiah, ain’t nobody touching yo’ body–at least under normal circumstances.

So, you know what? I think Paul’s right: I think it’s good for a man not to touch a woman. It’s so easy for me to hug people, and in fact, it’s way easier for me to hug someone than to tell them I care about them, but… it just probably isn’t a good idea. Maybe it’s just me, and Paul, and the Corinthians, but touch is powerful, and intimate, and probably should be used with more discretion than I have heretofore exercised. Oops.

Thoughts on the touch issue? I’m open and learning.

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Responses

  1. I’m a Christian and I do not mean this in an offensive way but aren’t you being a little extreme??

    • Hi, blondecoffee89, I hope so! I think “extreme” is a fair assessment of a lot of things I do. : ) I read your question as motivated by concern, and I think it’s kind of you to share your observation.
      I admire what you’re doing on your blog to help people come to know God and heal from sexual trauma, and from what I read so far, I get the impression that you fully understand the dark side of touch/intimacy.
      I wouldn’t say my thoughts on touch are motivated by deep fears, but I have a past that makes it seem reasonable to me to take extra precautions in this area.
      Now, how it’s going to go over in my fellowship group is yet to be determined, but I hope the standard shifts so that people don’t automatically assume everyone’s comfortable with sharing affectionate touches. That way, no one would be embarrassed for not touching, and no one would feel they were being touched due to custom rather than genuine affection. And those huggers can still get their hugs on with other willing huggers, so everybody wins.

      • Thank you for reading my blog:). You do make a valid point, not everyone is comfortable with receiving hugs from the opposite sex. I guess to each his own. That is your right to decline touch/intimacy if you are not comfortable with the person or do not know them very well. Then again maybe you’re not extreme, maybe its extreme to jump to the conclusion that everyone is comfortable with touch from people they don’t really know. Great post. You really got me thinking 🙂


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