Saturday, June 23, 2007

There are different types of touches, some holy, some evil

JN1034 "Jesus answered them: Is it not written in your law: I said, You are gods?"
Friday, June 22, 2007
The Mystery of Touch and “No Physical Contact” Rules: Tactile Intolerance and Discrimination against Christianity
“The context of the activity determines what is moral,not some absolute standard that is superimposedon a moral discussion from the outset.” St Athanasios, Patriarch of Alexandria, 293-373 CE
When news got out regarding a public school issuing “No Physical Contact” laws for its students, should we Christians take umbrage at this? Oh, yes, with a vengeance. On one hand, this rule bans handshakes, hugs, high-fives, patting a friend on the back, all physical contact. On the other, such a regulation is a direct violation of Christianity’s universal right to be free of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. For us, touch is a direct, essential command of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Could it be that this school is harming the intellectual, physical, and social development of their student body by banning physical contact? Are they projecting their own adult behaviour, at its lowest potential, onto their lil’ones?If children are taught that any type of physical human contact is bad (or sinful and unholy), unlawful, inappropriate, and unnecessary, then they’re being instructed simultaneously that intellectual touching is corrupt and must be avoided, and that spiritual-social touches are immoral and destructive as well.
What this may produce is a generation of insular adults disconnected from interpersonal relationships of love — adults pandering to idiosyncratic, concealed (perhaps illegal) touches — self-contained adults within a vacuum void of a sense of family or community — a gathering of shielded people — men afraid to touch or be touched by men — women apprehensive of each other's physical proximities — adults made neurotic about whether they should embrace and warm children, help a stranger, hold a beloved one in public. All these are antithetical to the Gospel of Christ and the Holy Orthodox Church. Christianity affirms touch as intrinsically good, sinless, holy, lawful, appropriate, and necessary for theosis, for salvation, and for our present state of complete health — mentally, physically, and socially (cf. World Health Organization).
Students should be taught about the appropriate parameters of social touching, about the pleasures of reserved intimate touching, and the Mystery of Touch, which our Church upholds as a Holy Sacrament. This school’s “No Physical Contact” mandate imposes intolerance and discrimination against the essence of Christianity (let it be noted that many religious and spiritual traditions elevate physical contact and touch to the sacred). If schools were to engage themselves in teaching about the spectrum of human touches, inappropriate and justified, evil and illegal, necessary and sacred, none would produce an edict without substance as this middle school has.Imagine a Christ who never touched the blind, the disabled, the dead. A Jesus who never washed the feet of The Twelve. Could she have been the Mother of God who only touched her own child but never embraced others? What crime against humanity would this “No Physical Contact” ruling have been to Mother Teresa if she couldn’t have held the dying in her arms as they passed into eternal sleep, or caressed the diseased, or hand-fed the weak? The context of touch defines its content. But this public school has it reversed: They presume the substance will prevent the circumstance.
Our Church would never sanction such a public directive as “No Physical Touching.” Our Orthodox Tradition is etched like deep wrinkles on the palm by the Mystery of Touch, from immersing infants for Baptism to joining hands at a Betrothal, from the laying on of hands for healing to that of ordination into the Holy Priesthood, and so much more.Touch is the God-instituted conduit for the Holy Spirit to enter and dwell within a human ontologically, and for the members of the Church to know each other through tactile Apostolic Succession.
Already some obsessive-compulsive Sola Scriptura neurotics and Biblical psychopaths are quoting Scripture (out of context, as is their boring, repetitive tendency) with no reference to or reverence for Holy Tradition. They're referring to “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it’s good for you that one of your parts should die, and not that your whole flesh be cast into hell” (Mt 5:30) to justify the "No Physical Contact" mandate. Heretical vomitus like this must be acted against by the Orthodox Church.
Are some of us Christians so lost and brainless to miss the sarcasm of Jesus in the quotation above? Jesus made people whole. What evil hearts find comfort and take pleasure in the mutilation of the flesh? Anyone familiar with The Rudder (Πεδαλιον), "The 85 Canons of the Holy Apostles," the text of Orthodox Canon Law, knows that mutilation of the flesh (self-imposed or at the request of the hands of others) warrants anathema and excommunication (Canons 22-24). Why did they decree these harsh penalties? Because the flesh is holy.
Yes, there are different types of touches, some holy, some evil. Judas used the sacred touch of a kiss to his own benefit. Until we articulate the sacred nature of touch, we ourselves remain untouched. And to be untouched is to be unknown. But touch can be scary.Touch makes us accountable for relationships of intimacy and vulnerability, of empowerment and strengthening, of complete health and mind-flesh-heart healing.
Touch heals. Touch harms. Intimate contact is a double-edged sword we wield with both hands at the expense of our moods and our insecurities. Touch exposes one's relationship aptitude. New medical studies validate the physiological healing properties of touch, in particular, of holding hands (ref. Coan, James A, et al. "Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat." Psychological Science. Dec 2006; vol 17 [12]: 1032-39).
What a sad state of affairs when humans are reduced to faux-intimacy via distant waves, impersonal nods of heads, and other non-contact physical gestures. Would we prefer an instant text message over another's human caress? Or opt for a voicemail message rather than a tickle? More base, would we rather others don't even get within a three-foot radius of our personal no-fly zones?"Interpersonal touch" seems to have been reduced to either sterile public conditions or dehumanizing ways that simulate touch by neutered social mores. Who are the pathological ones driving touch to politically-correct curbsides? Oxymoron, yes … impersonal touch? Why would any one want disconnections and disorders of the mind-flesh-heart? The answers: Self-phobia, and fears of intimacy and responsibility in mature relationships. Only infantile adults and psychopaths prefer distance sustaining their lives of inhumanity.
The flesh is sacred. It was the flesh that Christ took on and sanctified and rose from the dead with. It is the flesh that God entered, considered holy, and become one essence with. Orthodoxy venerates the divine nature of intact human flesh as an essential, unalterable principle of the Christian Faith.Touch is good. Touch is holy. Touch is the tangible continuum of the human heart throughout history. Ours is a God of touch.

"Numberless touches are in nature, both organic and inorganic; and by all of them some changes in nature are produced. The touch may not only be the touch-sense (surface, skin), but also by smell, look, even by the mere presence of things and persons.” St Nikolaj Velimirović, Bishop of Žiča, The Mystery of Touch. Through the hands of JN1034 @ 6/22/2007

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful writing. You are blessed to have knowledge of God and goodness. Thank you for the words of happiness. Too many people use bad touches but with God we are holy people. Bless you.