Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#66 Backrub chains

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Backrub chains appear frequently at youth groups and bible camps. Whenever pubescent* Christians of mixed gender are gathered to study the Bible or worship, the likelihood that a backrub chain will form is increased tenfold.

Backrub chains do not appear nearly as often in non-Christian settings. This may be because there is more frustration present in people who “struggle” with kissing, etc. before marriage. In the evangelical subculture, mass backrubs in an open setting are considered acceptable.

*The presence of backrub chains can extend well past adolescence, into singles ministries and, creepily, beyond.

31 comments:

stanford said...

Yup...extended, uninvited back rubs always creeped me out. I would actually go out of my way to avoid the main culprits.

Speaking of things that Christians do because of pre-marital sexual tension and the desire to rebel without rebelling...you should definitely consider a post on late night guy events (e.g. football, Frisbee, rock climbing, home repair, howling at the moon like in the book of Micah) done by a group of men without cloths...or was that an East coast phenomenon?

stephy said...

ha! I'm not too familiar with that guy venting stuff. But a group of men without cloths howling at the moon sounds quite...suspicious. I've only been privy to all the masturbation struggle men's groups and the dry humping phenomenon, I've posted about those. Thanks for the ideas though, I always need ideas. Kara gave me the idea for this post!

Rich said...

I remember the tingly excitement and imagined possibilities of the backrub chain! Ah, youth group!

Check out the trailer for my friend's new movie "Jesus People"

www.JesusPeopleFilm.com

gaypet said...

That picture is SO funny. Any normal group of young people would turn that into a 3 way. WITHOUT clothes.

I really remember those awkward moments when the back rub was just about to become something else. Ah. If only it had!!

Charles Dean said...

When I was going to SPU, it was not uncommon for the co-ed lounge in the dorm to have anywhere from 4-20 people in a backrub orgy in the dark. Of course, The Princess Bride was usually playing on the TV.

Robb said...

I have been to a fair share of youth group retreats but somehow I was miraculously spared from this uber-creepy activity.

Geoff said...

Man, I love this blog!

I've endured many of those back rub chains in my youth.

Archie Mck said...

Haha, yes. I also remember finding myself in the wrong place in the back-rub chain, which can go south way too quickly... Getting stuck with a guy in front of you or an ugly girl (I was young and mean)

I thought it was always funny that parents condoned this crap. It's ok for a guy to have his hands all over your daughter on the floor in your living room, but then you want the kids to draw a line when you're not there?
Confused.

There's nothing "wrong" with backrubs (ick) but I think it's just ignoring the issue and creating weird boundaries in kids minds

Simone said...

Is there any spiritual purpose to the backrubs? We did them in my acting class, but it was targeting certain muscles to allow to breathe deeper (or so we were told).

I think we use to do this during Chapel in Catholic school, but I think only during year 7 and 8 when the classes were segregated by gender.

In my Catholic primary/elementary school, our teacher use to make us take turns to massage her shoulders while she read to us.

Bebe said...

I do enjoy your blog, though I rarely have actual experience of the Christian culture as I live in a relatively secular and sophisticated area of SoCal. Nonetheless, at a diner where I have breakfast, I sat in a booth next to 4 guys in their 20's. They discussed dating girls as Christian men. One topic in their loud conversation (my own life being too exciting to eavesdrop) was that they would not kiss until "perhaps" a month after dating, and they were adamant in their lack of respect for a girl who would just kiss anybody on a first date. Their definition of this kiss was the cheek or lip peck, and not the more invasive sort, which, as one guy said, would certainly lead to premarital sex. Further dicussion led to sexy underwear ads causing promiscuity. I never knew that Christian culture made its men into such milquetoast-like and scrupulous creatures. Thanks kindly for the good news always!

stephy said...

Bebe, haha! That all sounds so familiar from my days submersed in Christian culture. I agree with you that Christian culture makes its men milquetoast and/or macho (I think both are equally bad). Jesus, as opposed to Christian culture, makes men bold and strong yet gentle. There's a big difference.

Jamie said...

I don't remember the back-rub chain all that much...If it existed in our youth group. Maybe on the youth retreats... I am sure that Steph can remember.

Reminds me of the over-touchy character on Scrubs.

I do remember the back-rub chain during all the drama pre-show, pre-rehearsal times both in HS and college along with all of the other "warm-ups" (which mostly consisted of half of the cast going out back to get high).

Ruth said...

Yeah, Jamie, my most vivid memories of the backrub chains occurred in drama and choir. Two groups that were widely secular. The biggest bummer is that you can never really receive a decent backrub while you are giving one. But it was nice to have boys touch you...sometimes.

They didn't happen in my youth group, though. Come to think of it, I think in my youth group things were so strict that you just had to make-out with your eyes. :)

Georgius said...

Every time I check up on this blog, I find it getting better and better. This is far superior to SWPL.

Joey Sanchez said...

Is that David Silver from 90210 driving the caboose on the backrub train?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I love backrub chains. Granted, its usually all same sex with my group. I have horrible posture and my back always aches, so I love a good backrub from anyone I feel comfortable getting one from.

Robert of Loxley said...

I remember the backrubs. Oh, yes I do. But I don't remember the chains so much. I'm just going to sit here for a minute and stew in the sweet sauce of backrub memories from my first van ride from Everett to Tijuana for a missions trip. That was one of the funnest times of my life. There were also some fabulous full frontal hugs on that and subsequent trips.

I did a google search for "missions trip backrub hugs" and came up with the following. It uses the word 'inappropriate' which was frequently heard during my Christian youth.

Male/female relationships - Be cautious in your relationship with those of the opposite sex. You should never be alone with someone of the opposite gender (unless it is your spouse). Encourage students to talk with someone of their own gender. Hugs, backrubs, etc. can be seen as inappropriate by some - think twice!

Sandra said...

HaHA LOL.. this post is sooo true and rather hilarious! It always kind of creeped me out too, cause it's the touchy feely guys that can't get a girlfriend. I enjoy my personal space and am not into guys using their creepy hands in seemingly "innocent" ways...unless of course it's my husband :)

Mari said...

I'm not sure if I'm relieved or terrified to know that this practice existed outside of my youth group. It was particularly popular during those long 15 passenger van rides to conferences...Though I mostly sat in the back relentlessly mocking the participants...

Anna said...

hahahahahahaahahaha...so true...as a PK...I LOVE everything you say in every one of your blogs...keep the laughs (and fond adolescent memories) coming!

karrob said...

yes! these happened at my youth group when i was in high school, and i was the big weirdo for "not liking backrubs."

Anonymous said...

I was part of a secular group of geeks that liked to indulge in these during high school. Of course, they were done with ulterior motives and usually ended up with people making out on the floor soon after. I feel sorry for the folks who didn't get that added benefit.

Marie said...

I went to a Bible college in undergrad, and I saw a lot of backrubs! It creeped me out for a few different reasons. 1: I come from a reserved Lutheran background--we're not touchy-feely. 2: Rather than chains, it was either being done by a guy and girl who had a crush on each other (and you knew it meant WAY more than a backrub to them), or it'd be done by the other girls in your hall Bible study as a way to show support and affection. (Again, I wasn't comfortable with it).

Ganesh said...

Primates have been observed picking ticks and other insects off each others backs in a similar manner. Can anybody see the irony here?

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I have never seen the like. Really, the only touching I have seen between the sexes in our youth groups lately is shaking hands....

Chad said...

I actually went to a bible college where they banned backrubs in dorms. I love this page by the way

Dave Wahler said...

BACKRUB ORGY! WOOOOOOOOOOO!

I meant to make fun of this, but now it actually sounds kind of fun.

Anonymous said...

Co-ed basketball with lots of bumping under the basket.

Patrick said...

My community must be more conservative than yours. Then again, I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I was chastised for giving a back rub once at a church function (not in or near a church) because it was 'too intimate' and could be misconstrued to let people think we're screwing. Never mind that the girl had a history of back problems, even needing a steel rod implanted near her spine for support, and that the back rub helped with her hypertension which would have otherwise sidelined her for the duration of the trip.

OKMom said...

I always thought the mass back rub was seriously creepy and who the hell wants total strangers putting their hands on your back anyway? Not me.

brianoverholt said...

Oh yes. I remember the youth group back rub chains. One thing that's been alluded to but not mentioned directly, is the fact that NO back rub chain would EVER include a dude giving another dude a back rub. A string of females was alright, but guys did not massage other guys... period. It was just understood.

@OKMom -- It wasn't strangers putting their hands on your back. As a guy, it was the girls in your youth group... and some of them were hot. The whole point was to try put yourself in position to receive a back rub from the girl you liked. That's heaven for a pubescent young boy. :)