Touch is one way God communicates with us. When ministers and helpers were placed in the early church, there were certain positions that were ordained by placing hands on a person.
The Power of Physical Touch
If a person has a preference of Physical Touch, it is very powerful. Dr Chapman says; “whatever there is of me resides in my body: to touch my body is to touch me. To withdraw from my body is to distance yourself from me emotionally.”
“He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?” John 13:25
This disciples love language was probably physical touch. When someone’s primary love language is physical touch, they long to be close to you. We can spend time with someone on the phone, but if their primary love language is Physical Touch, you need to spend time being close to them also.
“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:13-14
Physical Touch can really fill someone’s tank. With young children touch is critical. In a study in a neonatal department it was discovered that the infants grew faster when the staff frequently placed a hand on their back. Tests also showed that this practice greatly reduced their stress level. The infants did much better with the frequent physical touch. Years ago, studies showed you can’t show an infant too much love. In the early 1900’s babies placed in orphanages nearly always died. They were fed and well cared for, but they were under a strict policy of no codling. This policy left a near 100% mortality rate.
When is Physical Touch Not Welcome? When it has not been preceded by love; when it is not accompanied by respect.
Sometimes Physical Touch is not welcome between a couple because it has not been preceded by a relationship of mutual interest or companionship. It often becomes a demand. Love that is requested goes a lot further than a demand. When Physical Touch is not accompanied by respect, it is offensive.
“An embrace should fill the heart as well as the arms” (Hugh & Gayle Prather, “Notes to Each Other”).
The emotional part must come first for the physical part to be appreciated. Human sexuality is commonly presented as only being passionate with someone. It needs to be compassionate first. If Physical Touch focuses only on the touch, over time, that the relationship will suffer. The Physical Touch needs to be predicated by something that develops the relationship between a man and a woman. We can ask our companion, how do you want to be loved? Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation; those are compassionate intimacy.
Physical Touch is a powerful language both good and bad. When someone is so stressed that they can’t think rationally, that is not the time to touch them. You must respect their feelings. They have to calm down so that their brain can actually re-engage so that they can hear you. When someone is angry and you want to push their button, and you touch them, it is meant to hurt. The Physical Touch is not welcome then. When we have children, we must respect not only when they are happy, but also when they are mad. We must respect the emotion they are in when we touch them. See how powerful Physical Touch is? If we know that a person is greatly influenced by Physical Touch, we have an obligation to use it wisely.
Intimacy and Physical Touch
Humans have a universal need to belong and to love which is satisfied when an intimate relationship is formed (Perlman, D 2007). An intimate relationship is a particularly close, interpersonal relationship. It can be defined the following four ways:
1. Enduring behavioral interdependence.
You need to be careful that it is not just a , “Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie.” relationship. You need to recognize that your spouse may not have Physical Touch as their primary love language. We have to reciprocate. You must reach out and the other person has to reach back for a good relationship to work. Just that need to belong, forms an intimacy.
2. Repeated interactions.
A man may say, “I don’t understand, I am not having the level of intimacy with my wife that I would like.” What kind of relationship have they had during the week? How do you make sure that there are favorable repeated interactions? What do you do when you set down at the end of a day when your family has been real busy? Do you have a routine? Having dinner together as a family is still a good practice. It is a time to reconnect at the end of a busy day. Some may be experiencing an empty nest. People get busy. We have to make an effort to reach out and make contact. If you don’t make the effort to have a good relationship, you will miss it. Love is a choice. You must make sure that you have time for repeated interaction.
3. Emotional attachment.
Emotional security is so important. There are two kinds of love. Emotional love is important in both. Intimacy involves passionate love and compassionate love. Passion is an emotion. Compassionate love is a sharing of behavior and time. A person can have been raised in a non-touchy feely home and yet Physical Touch can be their primary love language. You must make them feel emotional security. You must fill their tank. How do you make them feel emotionally secure? How we behave and spend our time will help build emotional security. They know they can trust us. A mutual commitment is there.
4. Fulfillment of one another’s needs.
Intimacy means to state or make known. The activity is intimating by making known. We need to make our needs known to one another and we need to be hearing when a loved one makes their needs known to us. Sometimes little signals are sent out and it is not something that is verbally expressed. You must look for that. It is an intimation. That verb underpins the notion of intimacy. Men, do you really know your spouse? Can you read your wife? We need to be able to have that level of relationship. Without fulfillment of one another’s needs, you lose intimacy. Has there been a filling of the love tank going on?
Nurturing and Loving vs Destructive and Mocking
“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4
God respects marriage. He has made physical intimacy only for marriage. There’s a lot more to be said on what needs to precede sexual intimacy.
God’s plan for sexual intimacy is mocked by pornography. Sexual addiction can be more powerful than drug or alcohol addiction. The stimulus that one receives actually produces a neuro-chemical response. When these triggers happen, there’s a mapping that goes on in your head. People get to a place that Physical Touch is so misunderstood. If frustrations or lack of trust develops, many times you will turn to things that you shouldn’t. We need to be cognizant of how these things work.
This is the conclusion of the series of lessons about The Five Love Languages. All of the Love Languages have a biblical basis. These lessons are to help us. They are like having another tool in your toolkit and it is another way to think about relationships. It is a way to help people communicate to others. It is a choice to love based upon what the other person prefers.
“A new comman
dment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
More Reading on The 5 Love Languages: