Is hugging a sin in Christianity?

Is hugging a sin in Christianity?

You may already know the answer to the above question, and that’s why you are reading this. Or you may not have a clue. Or, even still, you may want to read this to see if I’m crazy or not (I might be). See, lots of Christians hold the belief that men and women should not hug in church due to various reasons. Most of them are rooted in cultural, religious, or personal convictions. I have so many thoughts on this; I’m sure you do, too. Hence, this post is all about Is hugging a sin in Christianity? As you can imagine, it is not a simple cut-and-dry question. A simple “yes” or “no” will not suffice. As with so many things in our faith, I think the answer is complicated.

To be clear, as I write this, the question I am posing, “Is hugging a sin in Christianity?” is about whether men and women should hug in church settings.

I’m NOT talking about whether they should hug in dating relations or in general.

For further context, it is important to state my opinions about whether or not hugging a sin in Christianity is mine and mine alone. They are not my husbands.

I do not speak for him, nor does he for me.

Ok. Now, let me show you how I’ve organized this blog post.

Why is this even a question?

Why would someone ask, “Is hugging a sin in Christianity?”

In my experience, I think this sort of inquiry reflects a desire to uphold traditional values of modesty and propriety.

Let me share my story.

I grew up in the Church of God in Christ, which is a version of the Assembly of God denomination.

When I was growing up, it was very legalistic.

There were rules, and those “rules” determined one’s salvation, at least in some people’s eyes.

One rule was that you could not wear pants, although I did.

Another was you could not wear makeup. But I did.

Thankfully, my family did not hold me hostage to the “works” way of thinking.

While some church members did not agree with how I lived my life or were not allowed to live it, I was free from much of that stuff.

Anyway, to my point.

Hugging between brothers and sisters was highly discouraged back in those days. The same was true for the Southern Baptist school I attended.

Like my church, they believed that physical contact, as well as wearing sleeveless shirts or having your knees showing, could cause a man to stumble.

Sheesh. I’ll get to that later.

For now, what I am doing here in this section is giving you context as to why some people may think it is a sin to hug a Christian brother.

Others may view physical contact [between genders] as inappropriate because it can cause unnecessary speculation or gossip.

Additionally, there are theological perspectives that emphasize maintaining boundaries in order to prevent any appearance of impropriety or to safeguard against potential temptations.

Different interpretations of religious teachings, cultural norms, and individual comfort levels lead to varying attitudes about physical affection between men and women in church settings.

Okay.

Thanks for letting me explain why people may be asking this question and letting me share some reasons from my own personal experience.

Let’s move on.

Click here for the ebook (it is cheaper here).

Click here for a hard copy on Amazon.com.

One of the cornerstones of the Body of Christ is its love.

I think everyone should feel a 360-degree blanket of love, acceptance, and support when they come to church.

Scripture plainly illustrates a beautiful picture of Christian love and unity. Portraying them as the bedrock of faith that is crucial for nurturing relationships among believers within the church.

Central to this theme is Jesus’ commandment in John 13:34-35, where he instructs his disciples to love one another as he has loved us, highlighting love as a defining characteristic of true discipleship.

John 13:34-35
NIV

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

After reading this, how would you respond to the question: Is hugging a sin in Christianity?

Personally, I don’t think it is if it is done in a familial way like the Word presents.

I genuinely believe the type of love He hopes for us is to love one another in pure, chaste physical ways, such as a pat on the shoulder, a hug, or, at times, a kiss on the cheek or forehead.

However, I do believe the latter should be reserved for sisters with sisters.

This kind of love—like I’m talking about here in this section—extends beyond mere affection to include sacrificial care and concern for one another’s well-being.

Ephesians 4:3 underscores the effort required to maintain unity through the bond of peace. See below:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 4:3)

Could hugging be a demonstration of peace among church family members?

Probably not, because of the culture He was in.

He also wore a tunic, which is not what we require men to wear today.

Let me explain what it is:

The garment that Jesus and men of his time commonly wore was called a “tunic” (or “chiton” in Greek). The tunic was a simple, knee-length, sleeveless, or short-sleeved garment that was worn next to the skin. Over the tunic, men often wore a mantle or cloak called a “himation.” The himation was a larger, rectangular piece of cloth that could be draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the body for additional warmth and modesty. These garments were typically made from wool or linen, and their simplicity reflected the everyday dress of people in that period and region. Click here to read more from Max Lucado’s article on BibleGateway.com

With that, Jesus did things in that time and culture that we do not do. So, whether or not he hugged women is not a logical question.

However, I do believe that if Jesus had walked the earth today, He would have given a woman a fatherly hug and would think nothing of it.

Remember when Jesus called a woman “daughter?” Let me show you the scripture to refresh your memory:

Mark 5:34
NIV

34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Hey, I just wrote about her!

You just have to read my post about the woman with the blood issue! It was so much fun researching her. Click below.

Bible story woman with issue of blood
Bible story woman with issue of blood and what we need to know

She had suffered so much.

I believe that, in my heart of hearts, Jesus gave her a hug just as a loving Father would do. He couldn’t care less about religious rules and edicts.

Yeah, I’ll bet He did a lot of hugging with numerous people.

Ignore the “probably.”

The problem, in my opinion, is people have “messed up” family dynamics.

It is part of our sinful condition.

As a result, a woman cannot accept a hug without thinking it is more.

Along the same lines, I think some people cannot view a hug without thinking something else is going on.

That’s a shame.

They need to wash their hearts out with soap.

I guess you’ve already figured out my thoughts on the question, “Is hugging a sin in Christianity?”

It is not a problem for me as long as the next section is not an issue.

I’m not naive. I know the propensity for individuals to experience lustful thoughts or desires towards others is a universal aspect of human nature.

Again, it’s part of the sin condition.

When l*sting (leaving the “u” off on purpose) becomes part of the dynamic of hugging, we have a problem.

I do not condone women or men putting themselves in positions to be prey to predators or people with these sorts of issues.

I AM TALKING ABOUT A CHRISTIAN HUG!

Jesus said people with this (above) issue have sinned.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Regardless of a person’s behavior, whether modest or provocative, attraction – l*st can arise due to innate human tendencies and individual vulnerabilities.

But, we are more than conquers in Christ!

We do not have to be victims of this.

Before I go off-topic, check out my post about it.

how to stop lusting

I believe Christian love looks like a hug sometimes. I’m talking about a pure, Godly hug with no intention of physical gratification.

A Christian pure hug is a warm gesture that reflects the love and unity of the faith while maintaining respect.

It is a brief, non-suggestive embrace that shows care and support among believers, with clear boundaries and mutual consent.

This hug avoids impropriety or discomfort, embodying brotherly and sisterly love as taught in the Bible and reinforcing community and family values within the church.c

Is hugging a sin in Christianity

As I mentioned with my own experience, legalism in a Christian context refers to a rigid adherence to religious laws, traditions, or regulations to achieve righteousness or favor with God.

It often manifests as a focus on strict rules rather than a heartfelt relationship with God based on grace and faith.

Legalism emphasizes outward appearances and performance. There are lots of “don’t do’s” involved.

I think legalism breeds judgmental attitudes and self-righteous church members.

Jesus criticized the legalistic tendencies of religious leaders in His time, emphasizing the importance of mercy, love, and the true intent of God’s commandments over strict adherence to religious rituals (Matthew 23:23-24).

Paul similarly addresses legalism in his letters, advocating for a faith-based relationship with God through Christ rather than through adherence to the law alone (Read Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16).

I believe legalism can hinder spiritual growth and intimacy with God by concentrating on rules and regulations instead of the transformative power of God’s grace and the freedom found in Christ.

Sometimes, the whole issue of hugging a Christian brother or sister – or not – is rooted in legalism.

Back in the day, I was told that if I hugged a Christian man, then I was tempting him.

That’s crazy. A man who is that weak should not be allowed out of the house.

Also, I heard someone say I do not hug a man because I don’t want to put my chest on a man.

WHAT KIND OF HUGGING ARE YOU DOING, GIRRL????

I don’t hug that way. Does anyone? I’m sure they do, and those people should not be hugging anyone in church because they have serious issues.

They are not normal.

I’ve already said it.

But before I say it again, let me tell you something else.

When I was younger, I was told women of God never wear sleeveless blouses or dresses. The reason was that we could tempt men.

Another thing was that we should not wear open-toe shoes. The reason was the same.

Finally, if our knees showed, we should cover them – lest we tempt ‘them’ men.

All this is a bit much for me.

As I said earlier, if a man cannot handle these things, He should not leave his house or turn on the news.

He should admit himself somewhere because if he can only view every part of a woman’s body as a temptation, he has some serious work to do spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally.

Regardless of what women do, a man with these issues will have that problem.

He will l*st over a potato chip if he is that mentally and spiritually sick.

Of course, I do not advocate for women dressing in unbecoming or immodest ways.

In fact, I still cover my knees in church if my skirt is shorter than it should be. Since I’ve gained some weight, a skirt can look good when I stand, but when I sit, it is a whole other matter!

My thighs spread on the seat like pancake batter on a hot griddle.

Anyway, my reasons are that women should be modest and take pride in themselves. It’s NOT because I think men are undisciplined, helpful idiots.

Is hugging a sin in Christianity

In my opinion, women should be modest. But men should bear some responsibility, too. They need to mature in Christ, manage these impulses, and have personal accountability, respect for women, and Godly conduct in the church.

In the right context of a faith community, a hug can convey warmth, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.

It can reinforce the bonds of unity and support among believers.

A church hug can genuinely reflect the affection and care that Christians are called to show one another.

In my church, I stopped one person from hugging me because his hug was not right, and I told him. He looked ashamed and walked away. He never tried to hug me again. Sometime later, I learned he was doing that with other women.

I alerted my husband of the issue.

Do you remember I said this is a complicated situation? It is.

And since hugging a church member is so complicated, I want to tell you how I approach hugging men at my church. Just in case, it may give you some ideas on how to keep yourself safe.

Always ensure that the hug is consensual and welcomed by the other person.

Be sure to respect their personal boundaries and comfort levels.

If you are a man reading this (and I know I get men on here), if the woman turns away, respect her.

You have no right to force a hug.

Additionally, be extremely mindful of the duration and nature of the hug. Long hugs are creepy and will get you slapped.

Keep it appropriate.

Here are some other things to think about.

  1. Follow your gut and the Holy Spirit: Christian Sister, wolves are among us.

    No Christian man (or any man) should hug you in a way that presses you against him.

    If He does, report him to a deacon or church member. I AM NOT ADVOCATING for hugging everyone. You have a right to your own body and do not have to hug anyone you don’t want to hug.
  2. Respect Personal Boundaries: Always be mindful of personal boundaries and ensure the hug is welcome and appropriate.

    Some individuals may feel uncomfortable with physical contact, and it is important to respect their personal space to avoid any feelings of awkwardness or discomfort.

    In my opinion, no hug should be a lingering hug. It should not last too long. A woman knows a “slimy” hug. Those should be avoided.

  3. Avoid Misunderstandings: Physical gestures can sometimes be misinterpreted, leading to misunderstandings or rumors.

    As I mentioned, ensuring that the hug is brief and clearly friendly is crucial, not suggestive or overly familiar, to prevent any unintended implications.

  4. Maintain Modesty: When hugging, consider the setting and attire. Don’t touch a bare back – if you are a man. Ensure that the gesture maintains modesty and does not draw unnecessary attention or cause discomfort to others in the congregation.

  5. Be Mindful of Others’ Perceptions: Even if your intentions are pure, others might perceive the hug differently. To avoid causing potential gossip or scandal within the church community, be mindful of how others might view your actions.

    I am a pastor’s wife. I hug a lot more people—both men and women—than I did as a congregant at my old church. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you and use wisdom.

  6. Guard Against Temptation: Physical closeness can sometimes lead to unintended emotional or physical temptations.
Is hugging a sin in Christianity

Here is my definitive answer to the question, “Is hugging a sin in Christianity?”

No, it is NOT a sin.

However, I think you need to be wise.

As one scripture in the Bible warned, “Beware of dogs.”

Let me end with one last story.

One young lady said she attended a church where the pastor never hugged anyone – not the brother and not the sisters. In fact, he was rather cold and didn’t smile much. She joined the church at a very broken time in her life. She did not blame the pastor but felt such acceptance when she joined a church where the pastor hugged everyone freely. His hugs were pure. They gave comfort and felt like a fatherly hug.

Someone shared that with me years ago.

I personally think that is beautiful, and I am glad my husband is such a pastor. We’ve had no issues in our marriage, and after all these years, I do not doubt his love and commitment to me.

Frankly, I have zero issues with him hugging his congregants. Some women may disagree. That’s okay. But, for me, God will preserve my lot and my portion. I do not worry about such things.

After all, my husband knows what he has. Should he ever abuse it, I know how to say “buh-bye.”

Since we’ve never encroached on that, I’m just fine with my husband and me being the loving people we are to our church family.

Psalms 16:5 in Other Translations5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

Thanks for reading! I welcome your thoughts in the comments!

Is hugging a sin in Christianity
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About The Author

GodsyGirl

Godsygirl.com is your go-to Christian lifestyle blog where faith meets everyday life! I’m Teri, and I’m passionate about providing Christian encouragement for women to help you grow in faith and navigate life's challenges with grace. Here, you’ll find Christian words of encouragement, inspiration, and practical advice tailored for women seeking to embrace their God-given potential. Join our warm and supportive community and discover a wealth of resources and heartfelt discussions designed to uplift and empower you on your spiritual journey.

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