Christian "Cuddle Parties"?
According to the cuddleparty.com websitehttp://www.cuddleparty.com/rules.cfm, these are the rules to a cuddle party:
Here's the latest trend making its way into church growth circles. According to the "Cuddle Party" website,
"a Cuddle Party Is: A structured, safe workshop on boundaries, communication, intimacy and affection. A drug and alcohol-free way to meet fascinating people in a relaxing environment. A laboratory where you can experiment with what makes you feel safe and feel good. This playful, fun workshop has been a place for people to rediscover non-sexual touch and affection, a space to reframe assumptions about men and women, and a great networking event to meet new friends, roommates, business partners and significant others" (http://www.cuddleparty.com/).
Will Reformed or Presbyterian churches be tempted to try this? Somehow, I can't see this having any attraction for German or Dutch churches. Someone would break wind almost immediately and ruin the whole mood before the "cuddle party" even got going. The Young Reformed won't go for this either--too weird, too lame. Not enough good order (and certainly not enough decency) for Presbyterians. Besides, the whole thing is just plain creepy . . .
They have an article on the website entitled "Confessions of a Christian Cuddler". It is too long to quote extensively but here is a bit of it:http://www.cuddleparty.com/articles/christian.cfm
WHAT TO WEAR: Pajamas - nothing too risqué. Think more comfy than sexy. (More drawstrings, less lace! No shorts.)
WHAT TO BRING: A pillow or stuffed animal if you like. Juice or sparkling cider is always welcome. Sorry, no liquor folks. Otherwise, just bring your smiling self.
STICK TO THE RULES:
1. Pajamas stay on the whole time.
2. You don't have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.
3. You must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.)
4. If you're a yes, say YES. If you're a no, say NO.
5. If you're a maybe, say NO.
6. You are encouraged to change your mind anytime you want.
7. Respect your relationship agreements and communicate with your partner.
8. Get your Cuddle Lifeguard On Duty or Cuddle Caddy if you have a question or concern or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.
9. Tears and laughter are both welcome.
10. Respect people's privacy when sharing about Cuddle Parties and do not gossip.
11. Arrive on time.
12. Be hygienically savvy.
From a Christian perspective, touch is not the problem, but is actually part of the solution; the question is, what kind of touch? Well, the kind of touch that happens at Cuddle Parties is not only acceptable in the Bible, it's downright encouraged. The Apostle Paul often closes his letters by inviting members of church congregations to "greet one another with a holy kiss" (Romans: 16:16, 1st Corinthians: 16: 20). In the King James version of John's Gospel, the thirteenth chapter, the apostle John is described as reclining on Jesus's breast or bosom (John: 13:23,25). In the preceding chapter, we are treated to the touching story of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, breaking open a bottle of expensive perfume and anointing the feet of her Lord. While not overtly sexual, it was most definitely affectionate; and yes, even sensual. Essentially, she was massaging his feet and drying them with her hair
I agree with the assessment that "the whole thing is just plain creepy".
While concerns should always be aired, it's too bad that so many well-meaning Christians would object to an event with no sex, no alcohol, and lots of wholesome human interaction. After all, Cuddle Parties could very easily be Christianized for youth groups, Christian singles events, and other gatherings. One cause for concern seemed to be that sexual passions would be stirred up and that people wouldn't be able to control themselves. Well, as co-founder Reid Mihalko likes to say, "We're more self-controlled than we think we are." It's interesting he would say that, since Scripture lists self-control as one of the "fruits of the Spirit" (Galatians: 5:22-23). As Christians, we believe the Holy Spirit comes to live inside a person's heart after they place their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Spirit then begins to produce fruit, a byproduct of genuine conversion and a changed heart. Self-control is one of those fruits, but where do we get a chance to practice it? Cuddle Party, with its clear rules and firm boundaries, gives us a safe space to do just that.
Cuddle Party also teaches and models clear, direct communication, something the Bible also invites us to practice. In fact, rule number five, "If you're a yes, say yes; if you're a no, say no," is remarkably similar to Jesus's injunction in the Sermon on the Mount, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no," (Matthew: 5:37), in which Jesus urges us to state our intentions clearly and directly. Who can argue with that?
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
--Hugh Latimer, October 16, 1555