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The Gift of Touch

May 2009

     Recently I've noticed an increased focus on what is viewed as the problem of bullying among adolescents and youth. No doubt there is reason for concern. Parents want to have confidence that their children are safe as they go out the door in the morning.
     One of the solutions to which some schools are resorting is a blanket "no-touch" rule, which is intended to keep inappropriate contact in check. In this however, as in other human relationship problems - it is good to look at what the underlying issues may be.
     It is clear that some forms of touching are always inappropriate - at school or any other place. It is evident, too, that moral values provide a much needed foundation for life. Only as these are in place will our children and youth to have a basis upon which to properly relate to others.
     We believe that it is not without reason that the simple touch is one of the strong strands which hold human relationships together. It is the way we are made - to touch, and to be touched, is a God-implanted human need. From the time of an infant's birth, communication and feelings have been enhanced by touch. One of the first thing mothers and fathers do with their newborn is to hold their child, touching its hands, as they talk to him.
     Small children like to be held by their parents, or to hold their hand when walking in unfamiliar places. Children who come from loving homes, where appropriate touch is a part of their lives, will find themselves becoming well-adjusted adults.
     Touching, as a sign of true care and interest has a divine origin. In the beginning of it all, God used His own hands in the creation of our first parents. (Genesis 2:7) When the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth as the perfect Redeemer and Saviour, He took on human flesh. And though His words alone were used at times to raise the dead and to still storms, there were many times when He combined His words with His touch.
     Jesus touched the leper and the blind man. He touched the disciples when they were cowering with fear after His transfiguration. He blessed children by laying hands on them. He even washed dirty feet with His own hands to show us what true servant-hood looks like.
     Christian homes and churches have a great opportunity to model right behaviour. When God-fearing homes live and teach proper moral values, it will also result in children understanding the difference between proper and improper touching at school or otherwise.
     "And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean" (Mark 1:40).

- Mervin Brubacher
   Barwick, ON