When a Hug is More than Just a Hug

The other morning as I was leaving for the office my wife, Norma Jean, said, “I need a hug.”  Now mind you I had already given her the six second kiss!  https://thepreachersword.com/2012/04/02/when-a-kiss-is-more-than-just-a-kiss/  I said, “Sure.”  Then she said, “I require 8 hugs a day.”   “Oh?”  She had read that in a paper from St. Luke’s hospital, “For the Heart.”

In the article entitled “We Need Each Other” Dr. James O’Keefe discussed the importance of good relationships to our physical and mental health.  He refers to a Harvard Study that began in 1937, which followed one entire class of students for over 70 years.  The study followed them through college.  Careers. Marriages.  Divorces. Illnesses.  And death.  Dr. O’Keefe said, ‘The study focused on how different behaviors are linked with various outcomes in terms of health, happiness and longevity.”  And what did the Harvard Study reveal?  The physical director concluded, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

Indeed!  God created us for community.  He fashioned us for family.  He formed us for fellowship.  In the very beginning after creating Adam, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  And then God made a woman and brought her to Adam.

Interestingly the three special entities ordained by God–the family, the government and the church–all involve relationships.  Each in a unique way address the need for other people in our lives.

But back to the article Norma Jean gave me.  The last section is entitled “Rx:  Eight Hugs Daily.”  Paul Zak, who is identified as “a renowned researcher who has spent his career studying the hormone oxytocin” documents the importance of this hormone for our mental, physical and emotional well-being.  He said it stimulates feelings of affection.  Engenders trust.  And forges interpersonal bonds.  He says it is “the hormonal basis of love and prosperity…and leads to loyalty, generosity and cooperation.”

And now here’s the really cool thing, Dr Zak writers that his “prescription for increasing one’s oxytocin levels is to play with your kids, have more fun, emotionally bond with your friends, hold hands, give and get massages, kisses and have more sex.”  He also advises to “join social groups, get a dog and follow ‘The Golden Rule.’” Then he concludes with this final tip: “Each day try to give at least eight hugs (all to one person or to eight different people, whatever works for you).”  I would suggest, if you are married, give your spouse all eight of those hugs!

While the Bible isn’t a book of psychology, or a mental health guide, isn’t this what the Word teaches us?  In appropriate ways and in the right circumstances we are created to display affection, share feelings and show love.

“Rejoice with the wife of your youth…always be enraptured with her love.”  Prov. 5:18

“…There is a time to embrace…” Eccl. 3:5

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” Rom 12:10

“Greet one another with a holy kiss” Rom 16:16

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” 1 Cor 7:3-4

In addition the gospel writers record numerous times that Jesus used physical touch to heal someone.  He could have achieve the same goal without it.  But it was a means for him to connect with others. To show compassion.  To say, “I care.”  The Bible often speaks of those expressing deep feelings for one another through embracing.  Esau to his brother Jacob. Joseph to his brethren.  Paul to the Ephesians elders.  The father to the prodigal son.  Indeed, as an unknown poet penned, “A hug delights and warms and charms, that must be why God gave us arms!”

Thoughtful and appropriate hugs say, “I love you.”  “It’s good to see you.”  “I’ll miss you.”  “I feel your hurt.”  “Thank you.”  “I want to help.”  “You’re special to me.”

So, make your home happier, your world kinder, and other’s hearts warmer, share a hug today!

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Relationships

5 responses to “When a Hug is More than Just a Hug

  1. I can vouch for the fact that my wife really responds to hugs. She appreciates them, and so do I. I think your article has hit on an important aspect of the marital relationship as well as other relationships, the need for the appropriate display of affection and acceptance. If we just go through the day as “ships in the night” with little or no meaningful contact with one another, the spark of affection begins to go out. As creatures of God, we crave love, attention, and acceptance from one another and from our Creator. When we give such to others, it comes back to us as well, making for a more fulfilling and joyful life.

  2. Collin Stringer

    Needed. And very good, Ken. It reminded me of the study done on Rhesus monkeys who were separated from their mothers and forced to feed from mechanical “mothers.”

  3. twylalalala

    Great article 🙂 It’s exactly the dose of preaching I needed today 🙂 Godbless!

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