I’m A Christian But I Don’t Do Hugs

Every night before the girls go to bed we perform the same routine where they kiss us and tell Fionnuala and myself ‘Night Night. Love you. See you in the morning’. We hug them and repeat the same words back to them. It’s a nightly tradition that I hope never ends. We are lucky if we get a grunt out of Adam but he’s a fifteen year old boy who doesn’t ‘do’ emotion. Unless it involves a rugby ball.

Fionnuala and I are not a touchy feely couple. You know the cringeworthy types who invoke eye rolling and ‘get a room’ asides from us as they stick their tongues down each other’s throats at the first available opportunity in public displays of their undying love for one another. Until they split up three months later in the messiest manner possible on Facebook allowing the rest of us to feel very smug and shoot one another ‘I told you so’ looks.

We love each other and are secure in the knowledge of that. We don’t need to ram it down other people’s throats (pardon the pun) every time we step out the front door. Neither of us come from ‘hugging’ backgrounds. Unless hugging our siblings by the throat counts. Our families just don’t do open displays of affection. It doesn’t mean we love each other any less than families that do. It’s just not us.

Imagine our horror then when we became Christians and realised that many of said community loved nothing more than hugging it out at the drop of a hat. It didn’t matter if they had known you for thirty seconds or thirty years you were enveloped in a totally unreciprocated bear hug that always seemed to last an eternity. I would stand there awkwardly, both arms the same length, saying my first, heartfelt prayer of the day.

Please God. Make it stop. Now.

I have been known to enter churches by the side entrance to avoid roaming welcome teams hellbent on refusing you admission unless you get your hug on. I’ve felt like a NFL running back trying to jink through a gap in their defensive line and high step it down the aisle to the end zone that is our regular seat. The service itself offers a blessed reprieve but the mayhem commences again afterwards over tea and coffee. They are everywhere and they will stop at nothing. Nothing I tell you.

Only to be outdone by high fiving, guitar wielding youth leaders the hugging mafia know nothing of social boundaries or awkwardness. Because God loves hugging. The Old Testament is full of it right? My anxiety levels rise. If (and it’s a big if) I get to heaven and stand before Jesus will he be offended if I offer him a firm handshake as opposed to a WWE stylee rib crusher that will have me tapping out within seconds.

I break out in a cold sweat when I think of an eternity of unnecessary physical contact and really average worship music. Will there be a separate heaven for Flyleaf and Nirvana fans where we can all nod at each other and avoid eye contact where possible? Where it’s okay to feel a bit fed up now and again and not have to walk around with a permanently plastered on rictus grin a la The Joker.

I hope Jesus can accommodate me. I love him and I want nothing more than to learn his ways and become more like him. But I’m me and that unfortunately involves sarcasm, grumpiness and the very occasional expletive. I blame him. He made me like this but I’m certain he did so for a perfectly valid reason. Im not sure why but hope one day he will sit me down and explain it all in words of three syllables or less.

So that when he does and the recognition finally dawns on my face I can smile and realise that he was right all along. Who knows….I might even give him a hug 😉

Are you a hugger? Or do you squirm from their grasps and run screaming for the exit?

Will Heaven be a hug free zone for you?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

114 thoughts on “I’m A Christian But I Don’t Do Hugs

  1. I am not nor will I ever be a hugger. Everyone at work knows I’m a no touch zone. I did hug a new grandma in empathy because her pain was real and I had felt that before. However that has maybe happened ten times in my career.
    Instead of hugging we moles throw the ✌🏻(Peace sign).
    As for church they aren’t huggers either. Most of them don’t even attempt to shake your hand at the door. Maybe because the pastor was greeted for the first time by an elder woman with “I’m so glad you are hear.” No hug no gush. Now that I think about it both pastors would rather puke than hug!
    Peace Rachel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can truly relate to not being a huge fan of hugs lol. However, I do believe heaven will be so full of God’s love/presence that joy will overwhelm us and our once worldly cares in this case concerning hugs will fade away as soon as we touch those heavenly gates.
    Blessings to you and your family

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is customary to hug your friends and family in the Balkan, but not recommendable to do the same with your business partners and people you meet for the first time. Knowing you for all this time, I would preferably give you a hug if we see each other. 😀 You ain’t getting out of that one Commander. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t like all the physical contact. I’m interested to know what heaven will be like… Hugs all day or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This made my day! I’m currently working out a blog post regarding the obligatory gooey, sticky Jesus talk that infests Women’s ministries. Like you, sarcasm is a natural gift to me. Never once have I desired to tell my small group to “listen for the gentle whispers of the loving father as he breathes life into their day”, followed by titles of dear one or sweet sister. .I’m still trying to figure out why people get all gooey when they’re trying to be Christ like (hugs included)! God created us All different and I don’t see any scriptural evidence for becoming cookie cutter Christians where we all look/act/prefer the same things!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hi – thank you so much for this article – I wish I had written this article because I feel strongly about the hugging thing. I come from a hugging Church – a church background so charismatic that even the hugs need to be charismatic – with most ‘greeting with a holy kiss’ ( I used to joke that as Pentecostals they should use tongues! – I go too far with my humor though!). Nowadays I keep it safe in a more formal style of Church.

    I am not anti-hugging but the idea of hugging, or being hugged by, strangers is kind of weird! I teach my kids to be careful of strangers, so why model hugging people we barely know? – there’s a safeguarding mixed message right there!!

    I do like a warm handshake though. I pat on the back is okay too (but don’t dare try spinning my into a hug!), but the ‘holy huddle hug in the Lord’ is an invasion of my personal space that I never asked for. If someone wants to love me they will respect the invisible circle around me – a circle reserved for the closest people in my life.

    I reckon Christians should learn hug-defense: Imagine every time a hugger comes along with their crazed smiles and ‘pull it in bro’ gaze: Their arms reach out, I step back and slightly to the side. Time slows down like I’m Neo battling in the Matrix. My right hand shoots out and grabs theirs so firmly that they are shocked into the well mannered, but firm, handshake which defines my personal boundaries. As we shake hands I look them straight in the eye and I’m saying ‘no hugs today man – not while I still have my right mind!’.

    It is each to their own in the world of godly hugs, but as for me and my house we will respect the space betweeen us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hysterical – I am going to have to send this to my husband who feels similarly. I have learned to hug over the course of several spiritual retreats and Christian movements :-). I have learned to appreciate it, if it is done respectfully and does not cross certain personal body boundaries. The New Testament does say to “greet one another with a holy kiss” :-). I quote that to my husband as an alternative, as he runs from the matron hugger in our small community group at church. She runs after him though :-). You would enjoy the same music too – I’m sure there will be a spot in heaven for those who do not care to join in the hugfest!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Im more of a don’t touch me at all I might bite. Seriously though, my germ OCD makes me cringe when people at church pull me in for a hug. That’s part of the reason I don’t wear the same clothes inside my house as I do outside. Their lingering germs….. and any hub best last less than 5 seconds. I will start pounding you on the back.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I come from a very strict fundamentalist Baptist background. I don’t go to church at all now. Or very very rarely. But it wasn’t a huggie Society. Definitely the men and women couldn’t hug. You weren’t even allowed to look at each other I don’t believe. So you’re just not in the right fundamentalist Church.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not a physical contact person either… Growing up it wasn’t something anyone did so when I got adopted the family expected goodnight hugs and kisses and it was always super awkward for me…
    Even to this day, married to my best friedn… I don’t like unnecessary touching and I suck at consoling/comforting because of it…
    I totally get this, I’d much rather shake hands then hug a complete stranger.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Can I get an amen? I’m almost positive my loathing of hugs comes from being hugged too much in the church! I’m glad there are more fellow non-hugging Christians out there. It was starting to feel a little bit lonely.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This subject resonates with me all too well. My family didn’t grow up as “huggers” either. When I turned 7, my dad found religion (became a Christian). I was an awkward child with grown people constantly hugging on me at church. My sensitive spirit was very accommodating as not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings so I smiled and hugged as if it was the most natural part of my day (but to be honest, it was cringe-worthy and the most unnatural feeling for me). Fast forward to my teenage years when I was pulled aside by my parents and told that they noticed many men of the church giving me full-on front hugs and was told I could only side hug men. Don’t get me started on that subject. Anyway, God doesn’t say He wants us to hug, He says He wants us to love. Just love everybody. No hugging necessary, unless you really need/want a hug. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Took me @ 40 years though and I am not running around hugging people I hardly know. 😉 Only family and close friends. Not having one of those overly friendly looking faces and crossing my arms in front of my chest is usually enough to keep the happy, hugging people away. 👏😉


  13. I grinned reading your post… remembering the reserve of many of my English friends. Hugging is a cultural thing, and thus, I don’t think it is “required.” 😀 In Scripture, the apostle Paul actually encouraged his readers to “greet one another with a holy kiss.” That probably makes many as uncomfortable as you are with hugging. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This used to be me, definitely wasn’t a hugger when I first started to my church, but getting to know them and feeling part of a family, I’m a hugger when it comes to showing love to family, like yourself with your girls, so hugging them feels natural only if they are comfortable with it otherwise it is just a handshake or even a hand on their back
    God bless you & your family
    Benjamin (rebuilding bridges blog)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I totally agree with you on this one. Heaven hopefully is a hug free zone. You are right, I can’t avoid getting hugged by at least one person when I attend church. It drives me crazy, but I tolerate it because it seems like I would be a bad Christian if I didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am a hugger but only when welcomed by the huggee. Also I am the only one in my family that is. And heaven, I don’t know how that will be but I do know we will be in glorified bodies that will be at home in our new home however it works out.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ha!! 😁 I am anti-physical contact of any kind in church, though my church is full of hand shakers. The germ passing makes me cringe so I keep both hands full intentionally at times. I would rather give a sincere hello and a smile – no germs involved!


  18. “Unless hugging our siblings by the throat counts.” hahahaha yes it does, so see you ARE a hugger hahaha. All kidding aside, since we will all be happy in heaven, and hugs don’t make you happy, then heaven will be a hug free zone for you my friend hahaha.


  19. For me, an expat who travels to many countries, think of the cultural implications of this. As an OWG (old white guy) am I going to hug a new friend from another country? I have been lucky to have never been a “hugger.” I neither want to hug or be hugged. Then there is the issue of hugging between male and female. In families, OK, although even then I am “hugger shy.”

    What an interesting post!


  20. When I started going to a new church, I learned early on that they were huggers. I actually made an appointment with the therapist I’d seen months earlier to help me deal with it! 😁


  21. As the parent of a teen, smiled at the reference to your fifteen year old. Not a hugger either except with my children, and find it compromising to be grabbed by ‘I’m a hugger’ strangers.


  22. I like hugs – sometimes. Some hugs just don’t feel right. It’s my experience that touch can help soften defenses and open us to self-compassion. So much controversy about touch and power these days – it’s a slippery topic. Thanks for reading my blog.


  23. I understand about the hugs. I’m not a huggy person either. Will Heaven be a hug free zone? Great Question. I do think that Heaven will be filled with people that love you even those enemies that became Christians will be be filled with love but I don’t think that necessarily means it will be a “huggy” environment though. Followed you. I’m a Christian too. My sights are: http://crystalsphotobloggingsite.wordpress.com and http://daisymae2017.wordpress.com . Both blogs are about Photos, Blogging, Animals, Family, Poetry And Much, Much More. Hope you follow me back. Thanks for visiting my one blog.


  24. I have a daughter just like that. I appreciate your sharing this, maybe it can help someone else to see that they are not the only ones out in this world like that.
    Being a Christian has never had the premise that hugs are necessary, although I do it sometimes as a common courtesy to someone, as to not make them feel that I am better than they are.


  25. I don’t think it is completely necessary to be a hugger to be a Christian. Some people just aren’t huggers. It doesn’t mean they are cold and stand-offish. Actually, some are warm and friendly but just keep your distant. Remember all hugs aren’t sincere. Judas betrayed Christ with a kiss. He probably hugged him too.


  26. Seems people, even Christians have fallen so far as they cannot even embrace one another…Everyone needs love; some need to feel it. The Lord’s disciples hugged one another i.e.Acts 20:1 “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.” And if we want to really get into obeying one more step, Rom 16:16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. 1 Cor 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. 2 Cor 13:12 Greet one another with an holy kiss. 1 Thess 5:26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. HOW MANY DO THIS???


  27. Africa churches don’t practice hugging either, of course, this is partially attributed to the narrow mindset, In my home church, we merely turn to our neighbor, shake hands and affirm them of God’s love before service, this is a great time for small banter too.
    I currently go to a small student fellowship on Sundays, again predominantly Africans, my boyfriend is the only European and it’s almost the same thing, except the handshakes happen after church.


  28. I am not a hugger. And in our conference of churches, there is a pastor that is a kisser. He bear hugs you and then kisses you on the cheek. I’ve become adept at finding ways to avoid this uncomfortable situation!


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