Feb 19, 2013

Jesus and side hugs

She is perched on the counter, legs crossed, face animated, as she tells me about her week, about what she’s been processing about God and Church and life. I am moving back and forth between cutting board and stove top, preparing a meal for us to share. It is long overdue, and our time together has been via screen rather than face to face for too long.

“Haley. I feel like Jesus would never side hug me!” she says.

I laugh and nod because it is true. And because the way she sees Jesus, the way she loves Jesus is beautiful and true. She calls me out of my scholarship, even as she loves to learn what I am learning, and invites me to dance around my kitchen with Jesus just because.

And, because it’s what we do and how we met, I tweet her statement.

We settle onto the couch with plates of dinner, a selection of nail polishes, and James Bond. By the end of the movie her statement has at least 20 retweets. Which, sure, isn’t anything to write home about, or tweet about, but followers and stats are not the point here. The point is that something about Jesus pulling us close with both arms hits home.

Jesus would never side hug you.

Jesus does not side hug you.

He faces you square on, and wraps both of his arms around you.

He pulls you close into a full body hug.

Because Jesus isn’t afraid of you, or of what it means if, in hugging you, your boobs touch his chest.

Because Jesus isn’t afraid of what someone else will think if they see two dudes locked in a full on embrace without any back patting.

Because nothing about the cross is a side hug.

The cross is a full on embrace of the mess and dirt and sin of who we are, exactly where we are.

So no, Jesus would never, ever side hug you. Ever.


Rebecka said...


Micah J. Murray said...

This is cool. I've realized lately that so much of male "bravado" ( needing to slap the back so it's "not gay", saying "no homo" after saying "i love you" to a dude, etc.) is just an excuse to avoid intimacy and hide our true selves from each other. ( Also, it's homophobic. ) Probably not how Jesus would roll.

Haley Cloyd said...

Thanks, Rebecka!

Haley Cloyd said...

Definitely not how Jesus would roll. No question. Intimacy is something each of us is created for, and we need it from men and women alike.

Thanks for your thoughts, Micah.

Emily_Maynard said...

Micah, I admire your courage to self reflect on this. I hope it invites men and women to bold intimacy in friendship.

Secrete Disciple said...

Having grown up around hippies, done mission work in SE Asia (where adult men are about as affectionate with each other as Jr. high girls in America), and spent a lot of time with children these past few years; I don't think side-hugs are anything but actions of fear. Jesus certainly didn't act out of fear.

I think the Evangelical idea that men and women shouldn't hug face-to-face, the idea that doing so is inevitably sexual and somehow bad, insults men and demeans women. I agree with Micah that men avoid intimacy with other men as well.

Yessenia Carrera said...

It took me awhile to come around and read this, but I was one of those 31 who retweeted it and I love everything about this post.

"Because nothing about the cross is a side hug"


Jessica Hinckley said...

I laughed at the "boobs touched his chest" part. :p I liked this.