I don't know if anybody else has noticed the discrepancy between the greetings you give certain people in your life. My former Architecture life, my current WAAPA life and all acquaintances NOT within a church- I greet them in a manner of ways. Everyone has a different method of greeting I guess, I extend my hand to everyone when I meet them for the first time, female and male. If they are of a flamboyant nature (in my field, you meet them everywhere) and they lean in for a hug- I reciprocate. If they're used to it or very cosmopolitan and they lean in for a kiss on the cheek- likewise.
So why does it feel very, very odd when somebody IN CHURCH leans in for a hug or a kiss or a hug and a kiss hello/goodbye? Especially if you're not on solid close friend, we-have-an-understanding terms?
In Europe, yes- this is considered normal. Girls kiss girls, girls kiss guys and (perhaps only in France) guys kiss guys hello. Twice, once on each cheek. However, this is not Europe. This is Australia. This is not society, this is church. In many ways therefore, is the dilemma exacerbated. If a guy slaps another guy on the ass as a greeting in church- go discuss that elsewhere. Strictly speaking, this is referring to greetings between girls and guys. There's the invisible line. It's the ingrained knowledge of exactly how far is allowable before you start to get odd looks and then the dreaded "Can I talk to you about something?" conversation with someone higher up in the church hierarchy.
Shake hands- yes.
-------------------------------- <-the line.
Hug- barely tolerable but yes.
Kiss on cheek hello and goodbye- NO.
If I don't kiss people I know from my outside-church life hello, I'm actually considered a little stand-offish. I have that reputation at WAAPA already on account of my "no-touching" attitude that was fostered in a church I'll have you know. Therefore, I completely understand it when some people blur the lines and use it to greet girls/guys from all walks of life and then come under fire for it. It gets noticed far, far more in a church environment. And yes, it does get questioned the moment the departee departs.
"OMG- did he totally just kiss you?"
"Uhhh....I'm not quite sure what happened there."
*Interior monologue*- "SWEET, she just kissed me, I'm so in."
"Did you see that? *cue laughter*
It's yet another area in life and relationships that only turns grey and murky once you infuse it into a church environment. Some couples don't kiss at all until they get married because that action means so much to them. I actually found myself checking a hug with a guy friend that I hadn't seen for a few months- I reached out, he reached out, and then we both stopped and ended up looking rather foolish indeed, all because I was suddenly aware that we were in church and were surrounded by people who didn't usually do that. It's such a small thing but I remember it acutely.
So what's the deal? Should there be disclaimers in church bulletins? "Welcome! We don't greet with kisses here, go to that other heathen church down the road if you want to get your peck on." Maybe we should just be thankful that we don't greet like dogs.