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January 23, 2009


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I love this. Jason and I need to have a little talk.


I just read this out loud to my mom and sister (who are in town) and we all laughed so hard. Also, as an aside, we all LOVE your new book cover. Brilliant!!


This is spot on--massages, cuddling etc.during church services are incredibly distracting! :-)


WOW -- I am so with you on this!!!


A few weeks ago I was in church and was horrified when a teenage couple sat during the worship time and kissed, then talked with their faces about an inch apart. It was more than just a little bit distracting. That same service I observed a couple holding hands, with some hand on thigh touching and also was distracted by that. Since that day I am convinced that an arm over the back of the pew or chair is about as far as things should go.


I COMPLETELY agree! This drives me *crazy* at church. So distracting - and inconsiderate to others and disrespectful to the pastor who's preaching. Grrr...I'm a total snuggler, just not at a worship service :)


Yeah, a full out massage is distracting for other people. But sometimes, it's fun to have a little cuddle here and there. I always envied wives whose husbands draped their arms over their wives' shoulders. I guess that's not massage, though...


One Easter about 10 years ago, (when I was in my mid 20's and in a particularly low point regarding my singleness), I sat directly behind a couple in church whose mutual "massaging" and snuggling should have been rated "R". Seriously.

I think it would be important for married couples to know that for many single people, these sorts of public displays of affection create an unnecessary stumbling block. Save it for the privacy of your home.


Carolyn, Way too funny, but so true! Where can I sign this manifesto!? :)


At the risk of overfilling your comment box...I am sorry I only commented on your book cover - I just started reading the book itself which is also excellent ...It was just a girlie moment where we were all like, "what a great concept for the cover of the book." Look forward to continuing reading.

Kimberly Wagner

Alright, Carolyn - I confess, I'm guilty . . . but never during the sermon, that would be a little odd, since he's the one delivering the message :-)
Cute post!

Emily (Unfurling Flower)

About time someone said this - thank you Carolyn! Actually, we have the same problem here in the UK - couples being distractingly affectionate during the sermon, or even during worship. Church should be a place where people meet with God and can focus on Him.


Funny! However, I am sooo not with you on this one. I love to see sweet affection between married couples, especially my pastors and their wives. So healthy, it does my heart good to witness this exchange of tenderness between two people in a Christ honoring relationship.


That is really a cute idea and cute post. I confess that on occasion couples being casually affectionate in church bothers me. But that is likely because I'm not married. :)

However, we should be careful about laying out extra Biblical requirements for other's in our minds lest we become like the Hebrew Pharisees who created all the extra Biblical Mishna's. Not good.

But we can surely laugh together over it.

OTOH anything other than a peck on the cheek in church would be anathema for unmarried teenagers. This type of familiarity between unmarrieds should have been a warning of further promiscuity. Someone should have talked to their parents.


Hi! I just started reading your blog over the Christmas holidays. Heard about you from John Piper's Desiring God website.

I just had to comment on this one because I was greatly distracted by a young couple at the church I've been attending recently. About every two minutes, the guy would put his arm around the girl and have her put her head on his shoulder. After a little while he'd remove his arm, and then the cycle would repeat ALL SERMON LONG! I know this might not count as "massage" per se, but it's pretty darn distracting during a church service. I don't mind a little PDA, but please keep it to a minimum at church!


Not only is it distracting, I think it borders on the irreverent! Are we not at church to focus completely and fastidiously on God? Will we not stand alone before the throne on judgment day to answer for how we worshipped God? If we have to hold hands with our spouse during worship and constantly be connected at the hip at church, isn't that really saying something opposite of what it is meant to portray?

I know I've gone way past massage, but I see this in church myself.

The English are not alone. The Africans also find PDA's in church highly offensive!


So I'm not the only one that finds it distracting! I thought it may have been b/c of my conservative Asian upbringing. Sign me up! =)


I too love to see sweet affection between married couples. It makes my heart happy too! And even though I'm single it does not bother me to witness it. BUT I think there is a difference between sweet, healthy affection that might include a gentle nudge or pat and REPETITIVE nudges/pats and the couple 'not being able to keep their hands off each other' during the message. A married couple should use some self-control and moderation in a public setting when it comes to physical interaction.


Thank you for this post! The massaging/groping is 100% annoying and distracting in church. Granted, I can't read minds, but some of the "massages" are so vigorous that it is hard to believe that the participants are paying any attention to the sermon. What happened to taking notes on the sermon and flipping through scriptures?

Typical church services last a maximum of two hours, can't people at least keep their hands to themselves for a couple of hours? At the very least they should sit in the back row so that everyone doesn't have to witness the foreplay.

Maybe churches should start having designated groper sections -- kind of the like the crying baby sections - so that those who insist on in-church massages can do so freely without bothering everyone else : )


Ha! I recently had a conversation with a friend who sat behind newlyweds. My my! Neck rubs, shoulder rubs, ear rubs...yes ear rubs during the sermon. A bit distracting yes :). Love your blog Carolyn!


I had to laugh in church this morning, as the couple that was sitting next to me started the whole massage thing...


We've probably all seen instances where the degree of PDA between two people is way over the top, and I haven't appreciated it. However, I have not observed such distracting behavior with the frequency or prevalence that PAMIC members seem to suggest.

Even if the problem is truly greater than I imagine, if we are so easily distracted in church during worship, how much more will we be distracted from serving our Lord the other six days of the week? For most of us, the time we're away from church is laden with distractions (or, more accurately, adversity) that might easily sway our attentions away from doing our work as unto the Lord or sharing the Good News with hostile co-workers.

Short of an actual riot going on in the pew ahead of us, if the habits of affectionate people in church are distracting, I would suggest that the service had already lost our attention.


I agree with Lynn, it should be like the cinema: if you wanna make out in church, sit in the back row please! I have been married for 13 years and have always found cuddling in church incredibly distracting, annoying, and unhelpful for keeping my mind on the sermon!

One of the most common accusations leveled at American culture is its sensuality, as in overly sexualized behaviour. Brits, Asians, Africans and even many Americans find the church massage offensive. Should the church not strive to be different from the prevailing (= ungodly) culture?


I have to say that I'm not with you on this one. I've been following your blog for several months now and have read many from before and agree with so much of it. However, I think this is dangerously close to being a pharisee. A good, healthy relationship should shine before God and man and be a light for others. No where in the bible does it caution against this.

I think for those that get distracted I would have to ask, "Have you examined your own heart?" Whenever I am experiencing distraction in service, when I am able to be honest and look at myself frankly, I can see that there is something going on in my heart that I need to take care of. When I submit that to the Lord, He is faithful to take my mind captive and bring it back to him. If you are distracted, perhaps the better response would be to take it to our Lord instead of casting blame on others.

Having said this, I do agree with you on the point of those who are perhaps not as far on their journey and do not understand the admonition to not 'have even the appearance of impropriety'. For those, especially young and dating, who are 'all over each other' some restraint would be in order. But for the happily married couple who are quietly displaying that love which God has given them, I think to censure that would be wrong. Loving, sitting close together, holding hands, rubbing your spouse's back when they are struggling with something, sharing a special look of mutual married understanding--all of these should be embraced for the love that they are. For isn't our God the author and perfector of that--He is LOVE!


whew...I'm so glad to find this post. I had never really encountered this until the last year or so when a mother (a mother!) was scratching her son's back and went up his shirt to scratch his bare back during the service. I was disgusted. I'm okay with affection during the service; hand holding, rubbing the back, arms around each other, etc..but this was too much.

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