Thinking Out Loud

April 22, 2018

Married Couples Holding Hands in Church: No Big Deal, Right?

Church behaviorDifferent denominations have different ideas as to the appropriateness of what are sometimes called PDA — public displays of affection — in the context of Christian camps or youth group meetings. Any rules that might exist are usually put in place with the intention of applying them to teens and twenty-somethings. Some churches have very strict standards on this, while in others, you’re probably wondering why this topic is even here today.

Hand holding is a mark of commitment. If people want to know if it is true that the divorced usher on the east aisle is seeing the alto in the choir, walking in arm and arm should clear up that mystery in a hurry. In the context of gay relationships, in addition to being a gesture of affection, hand holding is really making the statement, ‘Yes, we are gay;’ and so doing this in church is a bold declaration of that situation.

But today I’m not looking at PDAs as physical signs of relational status updates nor am I as concerned with the puppy love in the youth group. I’m talking about couples who have been married for some time and have nothing they’re trying to broadcast by being affectionate.

A few years ago I attended three different church services on a single Sunday. I am always aware of men who put their arms around their wives during the service — and sometimes it’s the other way around — and there are times I do this myself. Whether the church in question has pews or chairs, I like to stretch out anyway, so whether there is an empty seat or it’s my wife sitting next to me, I am likely to do this, though I probably have my arm around her less than half the duration of the sermon.

On the other hand — pun intended — there are the couples who sit really close and the hug lasts the duration of the sermon. (Except in summer in one church I visit which has no air conditioning.) I always see this as a church service = movie date type of posture. I would hope that in worship we see ourselves as standing before God individually even though as we sing we are worshiping corporately. The worship time is our personal response to God, and not something I can do with my spouse. (A possible exception might be if the worship leader invites everyone to join hands and sing a classic like “We are One in the Spirit,” or “Father Make Us One.”) I would also like to believe that in an ideal world, during the sermon we are busy taking notes, or looking up passages in our Bibles or Bible apps, even when the words are on the screen.

I also believe that during the actual time of the service, our “arm around” is broadcasting more than we realize.

  • It says to everyone that we are happy and committed. (Oh, if only they could see the chaos just ten minutes before we left home!) So in that sense, we are modeling what we consider to be the normal husband/wife relationship. We’re saying that the church family is a place where we are free to express that. It might be the only time we’ve had all week to just sit together.
  • It possibly serves as a major distraction however to singles. It could be a jarring reminder that they are sitting alone; that they have no such relationship; no hand to hold. I’m not sure this is the intention, but with all the other things the church does which tends to cater to couples with 2.4 children, I’m not sure we need one more. (Especially the one where, at the end of the benediction, the couple shares a quick kiss.)
  • It does equate to something we might do at a concert, play or movie. In that sense, we are saying that we are observers; that we are the audience; when the worship environment should be one where we are participants.
  • It gives the aforementioned kids in the youth group unspoken permission to do the same, which when combined with the current trend toward low lighting levels in our modern auditoriums, should beg all kinds of other questions. Can teens with raging hormones get all turned on while the preacher is discussing righteousness and judgment? (It’s a rhetorical question.)

HandsSo while I realize the intentions and motivation in the first case may be pure enough, and while I hate to be The Grinch that ruined the only moment of affection you and the significant other had all week; the second, third and fourth points seem to suggest a more conservative approach. I’m not saying you won’t catch me next Sunday with my arm around my wife, but it’s good to occasionally stop and think our actions through.

What do you think?
Any stories to tell on this subject?

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April 14, 2014

Should Couples Hold Hands in Church?

Church behaviorDifferent denominations have different ideas as to the appropriateness of what is sometimes called PDA — public displays of affection — in the context of Christian camps or youth group meetings. Any rules that might exist are usually put in place with the intention of applying them to teens and twenty-somethings. Some churches have very strict standards on this, while in others, you’re probably wondering why this topic is here today.

Hand holding is a mark of commitment. If people want to know if it is true that the divorced usher on the east aisle is seeing the alto in the choir, walking in arm and arm should clear up that mystery in a hurry. In the context of gay relationships, in addition to being a gesture of affection, hand holding is really making the statement, ‘Yes, we are gay;’ and so doing this in church is a bold declaration of that situation.

But today I’m not looking at PDAs as physical status updates nor am I as concerned with the puppy love in the youth group. I’m talking about couples who have been married for some time and have nothing they’re trying to broadcast by being affectionate.

Yesterday I attended three different church services. I am always aware of men who put their arms around their wives during the service — and sometimes it’s the other way around — and there are times I do this myself. Whether the church in question has pews or chairs, I like to stretch out anyway, so whether there is an empty seat or it’s my wife sitting next to me, I am likely to do this, though I probably have my arm around her less than half the duration of the sermon.

On the other hand — pun intended — there are the couples who sit really close and the hug lasts the duration of the sermon.  (Except in summer in one church I visit which has no air conditioning.) I always see this as a church service = movie date type of posture. I would hope that in worship we see ourselves as standing before God individually even though as we sing we are worshiping corporately. The worship time is our personal response to God, and not something I can do with my spouse. (A possible exception might be if the worship leader invites everyone to join hands and sing a classic like “We are One in the Spirit,” or “Father Make Us One.”) I would also like to believe that in an ideal world, during the sermon we are busy taking notes, or looking up passages in our Bibles, even when the words are on the screen.

I also believe that during the actual time of the service, our “arm around” is broadcasting more than we realize.

  • It says to everyone that we are happy and committed. (Oh, if only they could see the chaos just ten minutes before we left home!) So in that sense, we are modeling what we consider to be the normal husband/wife relationship. We’re saying that the church family is a place where we are free to express that. It might be the only time we’ve had all week to just sit together.
  • It possibly serves as a major distraction however to singles. It could be a jarring reminder that they are sitting alone; that they have no such relationship; no hand to hold. I’m not sure this is the intention, but with all the other things the church does which tends to cater to couples with 2.4 children, I’m not sure we need one more. (Especially the one where, at the end of the benediction, the couple shares a quick kiss.)
  • It does equate to something we might do at a concert, play or movie. In that sense, we are saying that we are observers; that we are the audience; when the worship environment should be one where we are participants.
  • It gives the aforementioned kids in the youth group unspoken permission to do the same, which when combined with the current trend toward low lighting levels in our modern auditoriums, should beg all kinds of other questions. Can teens with raging hormones get all turned on while the preacher is discussing righteousness and judgment? (It’s a rhetorical question.)

HandsSo while I realize the intentions and motivation in the first case may be pure enough, and while I hate to be The Grinch that ruined the only moment of affection you and the significant other had all week; the second, third and fourth points seem to suggest a more conservative approach. I’m not saying you won’t catch me next Sunday with my arm around my wife, but it’s good to occasionally stop and think our actions through.

What do you think?
Any stories to tell on this subject?

 

 

January 15, 2012

Sexperiment Disaster Lesson: Always Use Protection

While the media had a lot of fun with Ed and Lisa Young‘s Friday night “bed in” to promote the new book Sexperiment, I didn’t see a lot of coverage on the web, in blogs, or in news feeds taking place during and after.  But the 24-hour live event ended badly because Ed and Lisa failed to use protection.

Eye protection. 

If you’re going to lie in bed on the roof of a Texas church on a sunny January day, apparently you’re going to risk ‘sunburned eyes.’  According to the host of the section we watched on Friday evening, the two had gone to hospital for medical treatment.  Clips from earlier in the day showed the couple wearing dark sunglasses, but again, with a lack of information available online, we’re not sure at what point they realized their eyes were hurting from the sun, not to mention television lights.

Having someone acting as an actual “producer” for this event might have helped in this and so many other ways.  We caught some of the late evening feed — between 9 PM and midnight EST — and clearly some microphones were simply not working, and the (presumably) last-minute substitute hosts had gotten away from the purpose of the event with the conversation reduced to Christian TV talk show fare.

Which is unfortunate because the previously-recorded sections we did see from earlier in the day contained a strong message to Christ-followers that a Christian view of sex and sexuality is going to stand distinctively apart from the view of sex held by the wider society; a message that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

December 2, 2011

The Love and Respect Devotional Experience

Working in around books all day, I have been fully aware that the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs has been a bit of a sleeper title.  By that I mean a book which releases somewhat quietly, but then builds; and while other titles from 2004 have either become mostly forgotten or been discontinued altogether, Love and Respect shows no signs of slowing down; in some areas it is still taking off.

So when our friends at Graf-Martin Communications were doing a blog blitz on a recently-released spinoff, The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional That Wives Truly Love, I knew I was getting a second chance to view the material up close. 

But how to review a devotional book?  Do I speed-read every entry?  That proved not to be an issue.  Finally getting around to opening the book, I discovered the feeling one might get upon opening a book and having hundred dollar bills (or, for our UK readers, fifty pound notes) fall out of every page.  It’s that rich.  I read chapter one.  Then chapter two.  Then chapter three.  Then, seeing an extensive note on it at the back, chapter thirteen.  Which directed me to consider chapter five.  And so on.

However first, I began with the introduction.  This is a book that aims to cut to the heart of the problems often encountered in the couple devotional genre.  He finds the material too feminine in orientation.  She wants to just read the material on her own.  Either spouse feels they’re being “prayed at” or corrected in the middle of the prayer time that follows. 

Next, I skipped over to page 273, an appendix offering a summary of the Love and Respect concept as taught in the original book, in seminars and available (only) at the authors’ website on DVD.  Since the book has been out for more than seven years, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the L&R concept is:

Without love, she reacts without respect
Without respect, he reacts without love

That’s the great axiom of the book, and there are at least two other corollaries which follow from it directly, the most obvious being:

His love motivates her respect
Her respect motivates his love

The decision to include only 52 chapters implies a weekly time together for couples, though the authors are clear that this is just one of many possibilities and also note that nowhere does scripture mandate that couples read and study the Bible together, much to the relief of a few of you reading this.

Finally, I need to reiterate what is essentially spelled out in The Love and Respect Experience subtitle: This is a book which has, by very strong design, been crafted as male-friendly.  The leather-bound cover (at a very reasonable price) adds to the ‘macho’ feel of the book, but the subtitle is also clear that this is not a men’s devotional book either.

I can’t recommend this book enough, especially at a time of year which is a ripe opportunity for couples to purposely launch some kind of Bible study and/or prayer time together.  And the seasonal gift-giving possibilities here can’t be overlooked either. 

A copy of the devotional was provided by Graf-Martin Communications, a Kitchener, Ontario firm which works with publishers and author agencies to provide additional promotion and publicity for books and book-related products.

April 24, 2010

Christian Pickup Lines Reprise

This one first appeared here two years ago.    Rowena from Australia still blogs at  Small Steps to Glory and reported at the time that there’s a group on Facebook for the appreciation of Christian Pick-up lines. Here’s some samples she chose:

“I didn’t believe in predestination until tonight.”

“I believe one of my ribs belongs to you.”

“Hey.. i would work 7 years for your sister.. but I would work 7 more years for you.”

“Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead”

“You put the ‘cute’ back in persecution…”

“Feel free to meet me at the threshing floor.”

“You’re totally depraved but I’d still like to go out with you…”

“I’m interested in full time ministry, and not only that… I also play the guitar.”

“Look, you’re nearly 22.  Most Christians are 3 years into marriage by now… just settle for me.”

“Have you died before?   Because that looks like a resurrection body to me..”

“I would have asked you out to dinner, but I just put all my money in the offering basket.”

“Hi, I’m Calvin. You were meant to choose me.”

“All I’m looking for is a Godly woman.  I don’t care that you’re not attractive.” (That will go down well for sure)

“Can I buy you a non-alcoholic beverage?”

“My favorite species of vegetation is the church plant.”

“I have many sponsor children. one in each developing nation.”

“Who’s your favorite apostle?”

“The word says ‘Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry’; how about dinner?”

“I have familiarized myself with all 5 love languages, in fact, I invented 4 of them.”

[check the person’s shirt tag] “Just as i thought… made in heaven.”

“For you I would slay two Goliaths”

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