I disagree with a great portion of what you wrote and will attempt responding below:
>I have never in my entire life had a thought about a woman’s breasts when I gave her a hug. This is a thing?
Yes, if you are used to give hugs and feeling a woman's breasts you will not have a thought about it. It's desensitizing, akin to someone watching R-rated movies but not caring about the nudity, foul language, or gore in them. The more you do it, the less you feel the effects of it.
>A lot of this thread is so sad. Affection is a human need. Depriving people of that basic need by selectively sexualizing normal, healthy, inherently non-sexual ways to get and give it is a surefire way to create an especially difficult to manage sex drive, which is a recipe for disaster.
Nobody is being deprived. My husband can side-hug a woman and be perfectly fine. Understand? Do you REALLY need to give a woman long, frontal hug to a woman you are not married to to show affection?
>It’s sad to me the church has so given itself to the pharisee mindset of putting rules on rules while ignoring Colossians 2:20-23 that we have discussions of whether or not we should give hugs because we’re afraid of them leading to sexual desires.
No one is putting rules on anyone. The question was pertaining to an engaged couple who was holding each other in full frontal hugs for extended periods of time, and wondering if this would possibly lead the man into lust. These are young adults who do want to please God and not fall into lust... not engaging in masturbation. As it turned out, YES, the young man was struggling with these hugs! And they have decided to migrate to the side-hugs instead. I am so proud of them!
The Scripture mentioned, Col 2:20-23 was also taken out of context as Paul was addressing ASCETICISM where the body is seen as evil. This thread is about SELF-DISCIPLINE where the body is seen as good, however, its desires must be controlled and channeled properly. No one is saying a woman's body is evil, or that sexual desires are evil. However, self-control is taught in the NT, is it not?
>This is a patently ridiculous discussion to have. Everyone finds hugging their family members to be completely fine, yet if hugs lead to lust this would be a massive no-no! This is completely inconsistent. The difference between these is that we view incest with complete revulsion, but deep down – whether we admit it to ourselves or not – we still view non-family members of the opposite gender as potential sex partners.
How did we get into incest, from the original question? I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.
>Please don’t take that statement judgementally. I realized this as I was typing this comment, and single me is guilty as well, but hugs are not the problem. Having a wrong view of the opposite gender is, and no rule about the particular vector of approach for physical contact with one’s non-married romantic partner is going to create the righteous mindset to avoid lust.
Why do you assume the question stems from a wrong view of the opposite gender??? The question originates from a couple wanting to save themselves and all their positive sexual energy for each other after they get married -- no masturbating while single. I get it, this runs against our culture and even against most church-culture in this country. But I'm not surprised since 50% of all pastors are hooked on pornography and 75% of all single Christian males are as well.