How to Respond to Public Displays of Affection
- Thursday, June 14, 2012
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I am a 31-year-old single female and have a question regarding public displays of affection among married people. At my church there are several newlyweds, some of which are very affectionate during services and in Bible study settings. It's not vulgar but involves frequent kissing, back rubbing and cuddling. I am generally not an overly affectionate person, so I wonder if this is more my problem than theirs. So I began sitting where I would not be distracted by one particular couple during church, but this cannot be avoided in our Bible studies which are in a home. I have never gone to a church where this was a practice, so I also think it may be a cultural difference. I've always attended predominately African American churches, and my church is more diverse racially. This topic was brought up at dinner among singles who attend my church and others were uncomfortable with it as well. Afterward, I was convicted about the discussion that may have been viewed as gossip or bad-mouthing people we care about, so I wanted to have a more godly response to the issue. I thought about going to one or both of them but then thought, I don't want to offend them if I'm wrong and they are only doing what married people should be doing.
I e-mailed my pastor about it for advice and his response was that there are a lot of distractions in church and gave the suggestion of sitting in the front. He also encouraged me and the other singles to be righteous in our conversations and be guided toward 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 and away from gossip and carnality. This was sound advice but still left me wondering if this was appropriate behavior. I am content in my single state, and the PDA is not something that causes me to lust or long for a relationship. It's simply uncomfortable to see things that in my mind are private. I've been trying to get used to it for a year now, and I still don't want to see it. I guess I would rather continue to be uncomfortable at times rather than offend the couple who is not really doing anything wrong. What is your opinion on or experience with this subject?
HE SAID: Aside from crying children, rambunctious teenagers, sick members or ringing telephones, public displays of affection seem to be a fairly common theme and disruption in many places of worship today. As you have discovered, there is no blanket biblical answer or universal approach in dealing with it besides wanting to scream “Get a room!” which may be slightly more disruptive.
Although what these couples are doing is not “wrong,” their actions could be construed as somewhat inappropriate or at least ill-timed. Since you are not as overtly affectionate, you may be a bit more sensitive to noticing such conduct.
Having witnessed similar behavior over the years, I just try to keep in mind each of us are uniquely made and diversely wired, equipped with different “love languages” (refer to The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman), and I can only control my own actions.
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