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.