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Hey Girlfriend, When You Feel Tempted to Hug Your Boyfriend . . .

christian side hug

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Hey girlfriend, when you feel tempted to hug your boyfriend, hug your dad, brother, sister, or an old lady in the church instead. Nothing quenches sexual desire like hugging a male family member or ancient Sister Bertha, right?

Paula Hendricks, a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website, had this to say to young women who doubted an invisible Jesus could meet their sexual longings and desires:

 Apparently I’m not the only one who has wondered how God can satisfy when all I want is a pair of strong arms to hold me close. Here’s what Rebecca wrote me:

“The biggest thing I think my crush can give me that God can’t is his strong arms wrapped around me. Although my crush has yet to hold me in his arms, his physical closeness sends shivers throughout my body. I know that God is always there for me . . . but sometimes my feelings get the better of me, and all I want to do is be wrapped up in my crush’s arms and attention.”

Grace added:

“I think what always gets me is that God isn’t physically there like a guy is. He can’t wrap his arms around me. Sometimes I just want that.”

And finally, Isabella said:

“I have often thought, I wish God could come down here and give me a big bear hug. Then I would really be in love with Him.”

But here’s the thing . . . He has come down! And while He was here, He picked up kids and cradled them in His arms. (You have to admit, that shows a tender heart—few guys walk around doing the same thing!)

I know He’s not physically here now…But one day soon, we will see Him. We will be with Him.

When Christ comes again to “marry” the Church, His Bride, He will likely hold us too…

…Now that is something to look forward to! Jesus Christ is not an idea; He is a Person. A Divine Person with arms and legs and beautiful probing eyes. He loves you. Enough to spread His arms wide in order to bleed so you might be healed. And if you have put your trust in His death and resurrection on your behalf, you will soon see and know Him fully.

So in the meantime, as you wait for Him, by all means, hug! No, not your crush. Hug your dad. Hug your mom. Hug your brothers and sisters. Hug your friends. Hug those old ladies at church…

I wonder if Hendricks has heard about the Christian side hug, a type of hug sexually aware, virgin Evangelical young people can give one another without causing sexual stirring or lust?

Video Link

Rational Wiki describes the Christian side hug this way:

The Christian side hug is a means by which young Christians can show affection for each other without engaging in possibly tempting and impure front-to-front contact.

Instead of hugging face-to-face, the huggers stand side-by-side, and can be facing either the same way or in opposite directions. Unlike frontal hugging, side hugs minimize the risk of an eternal damnation which could result from possible incidental contact with a boob or penis of somebody to whom one is not married.

For extra affection, the side hug may be accompanied by a few non-contact blessing pats. If even the side hug is too intense, you can work up to it coyly with this elaborate sequence of gestures. There’s even a Christian side hug rap, which attracted the attention of The Young Turks. The degree of parody and satire intended in the rap version is unknown, but that doesn’t make it any better.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Six Inch Rule, a regulation used at Midwestern Baptist College — the college Polly and I attended in the 1970s — to keep young adults from touching one another. It proved to be a dismal failure. I don’t know of one couple who lived in the Midwestern Baptist College dorm when Polly and I did who didn’t violate the spirit and the letter of the six-inch rule. Something tells me — oh like common sense — that teenagers and young adults are still failing at keeping the touching prohibitions of Evangelical moralizers such as Paula Hendricks. Why, you ask? Simple. We are sexual beings and we desire physical, intimate contact with others. All the sweet, sexy Jesus in the world won’t quench human sexual desire. When it comes to choosing between sexual intimacy and Jesus, my money is on sexual intimacy.

jesus hug

What makes writers like Paula Hendricks so harmful is that they encourage teen girls and young women to act against their nature. They encourage them to repress their sexual desires. Sadly, when these girls later marry, they often bring a warped view of physical intimacy and sex into the marriage (and men can do the same).  Marriage is tough enough without starting life with sexual dysfunction. Instead of teaching teenagers and young adults to repress their sexual desires, they should be encouraged to responsibly act on their desires, starting with a hug or a kiss. If there is more to the relationship, then they can determine where to go from there. There are three bases between the batter’s box and home. Hendricks wants unmarried teens and adults to stand in the batter’s box, never moving or swinging when the pitch comes their way. No running to first, rounding second, sprinting around third, and sliding into home. Not a very fun or interesting game, yes?

Contrary to Paula Hendricks’ horrible advice, hugging is not a gateway to sexual intercourse. Teenagers and young adults can sexually experiment without having intercourse. And if they decide to slide into home base, the best advice to give them is on how to be sexually responsible and use birth control. Of course, this advice must be given to them BEFORE they are rounding third and heading for home. In fact, before they even get to first base, wouldn’t it be better to prepare single teenagers and young adults for their sexual future?

Hendricks now sports the last name Marsteller. She’s married, and I suspect is regularly playing baseball with her husband. I wonder if she touched her husband before they married?


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    This crowd just disgusts me. At the age of 25 I have finally reached a place where I don’t feel shame over having sexual feelings. I even worked up the courage to making a first move by kissing a guy! This was followed by lots more hugs and kisses! It was awesome, like really awesome. She would think I was a real harlot considering I have kissed more than one guy. I love being a heathen lol.

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    1) What happens if Jesus returns for “Girlfriend” and “Girlfriend” is not attracted to him? Kinda like internet dating…he seems great at a distance, but when you meet in person, you find the spark just isn’t there…
    2) Why do women like Paula Hendricks bother getting married at all? If Jesus can meet all your needs like she claims (“Lies Young Women Believe” – this one is a whopper), she shouldn’t need an actual physical outlet. Unless she did it just so she could have children…
    3) This video…LOL…things have changed A LOT since I was a young christian during the 70’s.
    4) Why doesn’t God give christian performers a new shtick instead of having them imitate the popular style of the times? Really, Christian rap??? And did you notice how hard they are trying to dance “clean” – no penis grabbing, hip thrusting, etc.??

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    Good grief. So much repressed sexual feelings. Much better to allow humans to love and touch and of course, as you said, have knowledge of birth control.

    It turns out that we non-Christians believe in something called consent. Whereas Christians are freaked out by consenting adults who aren’t married, or who are LGBTQ+ and consenting, we are totally for. And yet, so many so-called Christians seem to think that they can pursue a woman younger than 18. (See: Roy Moore.) And that is OKAY because it is heterosexual. And when Josh Duggar diddled his sisters, well, boys will be boys.

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    My relatives do the side hug thing, but that’s because we aren’t huggers. Imagine my surprise when I met my husband’s extended Irish American family who not only assault you with hugs but with kisses. Nope!!!

    Not teaching kids about healthy sex and consent is just setting them up for abuse and hardship. Treating sex as forbidden is a huge mistake too. Purity culture damaged so many people.

    • Avatar
      Barbara L. Jackson

      Trying to remove or repress sexual feelings is like trying to tell the moon gravity does not exist and it should not orbit the earth.. Sex is a part of nature. Consent is necessary as is telling kids about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    To young people who drop-by here: They misled you when they told you were born in sin. They misled you when they told you the world is evil. They misled you when you sought love and they offered control, denial, abdication of yourself. Your body is not evil and your feelings are merely and completely human. To love yourself, your basic humanity does not require that you seek to crush it and give it up. Live well and fully. Be responsible for yourself and others. Be human, not anti-human. Rather than give it up, claim your life. It’s today you have, today and today, not forever. How can it ever make human sense to live for eternity when you are required to deny yourself today? Live today. Help others including yourself today.
    I am a preacher’s son, now an old son of a deceased preacher. I spent much of my young life in a tortured struggle to be something other than simply human. I denied myself, hated myself for sensual feelings and lost me for a long long time, crushed me for a long time. Evangelical Christianity is a fever brought on at least partially by the collective trauma in humanity, the harm suffered. Try not to harm your own humanity but to allow it to flourish. Help yourself as you would someone else in need. What is called ‘purity culture’ is a sickness, more harm done in the name of an Almighty. It is in fact and impurity to impose ugliness and sin to something completely human. The Almighty named in this matter is a monster, and anti-human monster.

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      Great advice Brian. I would add that is you are gay, bisexual, or trans, or any part of the LGBTQ community, do not let anyone tell you that you are bad or sinful because of who you are, people telling you that are simply hateful, although they will tell you they love you. If they cannot accept you as the person you are, then they do not love you.

      I was a preachers kid too, life was not easy as a non-binary person in a very conservative preachers home, and the damage caused by the religion lasted for many years. A religion that teaches you to hate yourself and pretends that there is some way to “heal” you is a vile, dark, hateful religion. They use guilt, and the constant false message that doing things right leads you to hope and love. It’s nothing but a dark alley that leads to a dead end.

      But if you can step into the real light of the actual world, and escape the blinders and darkness of conservative religion, then you will find whole groups of people that like you just for being you. You don’t have to change or meet some impossible standard to be liked and accepted.

      • Avatar
        Brian Vanderlip

        Yes, SAGE, indeed yes… LGBTQ an acronym that has become more and more inclusive in its recognition of many variations of, well, us. I have long had trouble acknowledging only male and female and/or hetero/homo designations. As I matured, I was sensually aware that there are many ways of ‘feeling’ in the world and that this includes asexual/non-sexual too. The designation LGBTQQIP2SAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, 2-spirited, asexual, and allies…) is an extended inclusion, if a bit of a mouthful. I tend to use the five letter designation, LGBTQ, to include any and all.
        Seems to me that all of this is not so fixed as many prefer to state but a set of variables that can and does change some over the stretch of a person’s lifetime. There is no black and white right and wrong in the human spectrum here and much of religion has fallen flat on its face in these matters. They claim to love all and every person and just as Trump, boast that their Jesus-love is better than anybody’s love, fantastic, great. Nobody loves the LGBTQ’s like they do! Exactly like Trump: Sadly blinded, dull as a grey sky, shallow as a city sidewalk mudpuddle. And like Trump, we are showing extreme religion the exit door, slowly but surely and not just Christianity but the ugly Mohammed creepy mysogynistic Islam too. Let them join arms publically and hit the road because they are the same viral strain, both Jesus and Mo.

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    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    Hi y’all. When I did a long ago term paper on Mormon polygyny in a graduate cultural anthropology course, I discovered that some outraged scholars in the 1800s referred to the Mormon faith as “America’s Islam.” They did this because one man with multiple wives looked as if he was keeping a private harem like the Arabian sheiks.

    After reading Bruce’s items in italics, it occurred to me that Christian Fundamentalism could easily be tagged as “America’s Islam” because these stupid rules sound just like the kinds of religious rules that are rigidly enforced in places like Iran. I do not see how people can be weighted down by so many legalistic religious laws, doctrines, precepts, preacher rules, and rot docternes—-and have a truly happy life. I would think that so heavy a burden on the back of a truly serious and obedient person would drive that person into mental illness.

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Bruce Gerencser