OK, want to play Jeopardy? Here’s an unofficial question: A 20th century natural historian named Ernest Crawley wrote this about a certain human action: It is “a universal expression in the social life of the higher civilizations of the feelings of affection, love … and veneration.”
Answer: “What is a kiss.”
The Bible talks a lot about kissing. Paul says, on several occasions: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Why? Paul wanted to encourage demonstrations of holy affection. That’s all.
Maybe you’ve noticed in some cultures where innocent young girls walk down the street hand in hand? It is a public sign that they are close friends. I can never really get used to this, but I have come to appreciate it. I think to some extent this is sort of what the Bible encourages us to do. Give Holy expressions of affection.
In the Book of Genesis (Gen. 50:1), Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him.
In the Book of Ruth (Ruth 1:14), Naomi kisses her daughter-in-law Ruth goodbye.
In the Book of 1 Kings (1 Kings 19:20), Elisha said, “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by.”
Do you think that maybe people today ever ache for a kind of, shall we say, holy touch? Do you know that children can die from not being touched. They used to call it the “Wasting Disease.” If you stick a baby in an incubator, and give it all the food it needs, eventually it will die without touch, without being held.
Dr. Paul Brand, was a leprosy specialist. He tells of one bright young man with leprosy he was treating in India. In the course of the examination, Dr. Brand gently laid his hand on the patient’s shoulder, and informed him about the treatment that lay ahead. To his surprise the man began to shake with muffled sobs.
“Have I said something wrong?” “No. Doctor.” (the patient sobbed in Tamil) “I’m crying because you touched me, and until this day no one has touched me for years.” Jesus, touched lepers. And maybe that grasp contained within it the whole gospel. Isn’t it nice that the Christian message is not just … for our minds?
Now, that’s something to Celebrate!