Arms Of Love: To Hug Or Not To Hug?

How do physical touch and closeness translate as a hug?

When you hug someone, it is viewed very differently from culture to culture. Do I shake his hand? Kiss her cheek? Wave or bow? To give a hug as a greeting will depend on a variety of factors like gender, age, or setting, for instance.

In the Christian culture, there are many thoughts on whether or not frontal hugs are appropriate male to female outside the union of marriage. Do the rules change if you are family members? What about a dear friend you have known for years? How long is too long for a hug?


All these questions can make the average person want to steer clear of hugging altogether just to avoid confusion.

So why did God create us with arms to hug and is there a way to express your care and concern for another person without crossing the line? In what situations would you feel it is ok to embrace another person that you might not otherwise hug?

Genesis 33:4

But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

Genesis 48:10

Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.

Often during a tragedy, you will see complete strangers embracing in a compulsory act of love and comfort to soothe the pain. They are each offering a physical representation of sympathy or even empathy in the moment of grief. They are most likely demonstrating the love of Christ in that situation.

Ecclesiastes points out that there is a time and a place for certain emotions. Sometimes, a hug is just exactly what a person needs and it may be that you were put in that moment for that reason.

Ecclesiastes 3:4-6

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

Acts 20:36-37

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.

Physical touch and closeness are the languages of love for many people. Nonetheless, healthy physical boundaries need to be established so that hugs will not be misunderstood as something more.

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere.

1 Timothy 1:5

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

It is up to each of us to search our hearts for our intention and the word of God for guidance. Withholding affection based on a “rule” when another is in need is not how Jesus modeled love. Jesus came with skin on, and His touch healed many. (Luke 6:19)

Want to know where you stand on Physical Touch and Closeness?…

What’s Your Love Language? Take The Free Quiz!

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About The Author


  1. Meghan Heasley
    January 20, 2016
    • Lisa Jander
      January 20, 2016

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