"Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called
Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."
Despite what the world portrays, the act of sex isn't the definition of intimacy. Induced by the culture and popular opinion, many have come to think of the terms 'sex' and 'love' as synonymous. This concept is found in all debates about relationships. It is assumed by the world that if you love someone, then the next logical step is to give yourself to them physically.
It doesn't have to be this way.
True intimacy is in-to-me-see. Looking at the other person with the eyes of Christ and wanting their good above your desire for pleasure. It is a combining of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of a human being. Intimacy that wills the good of the other before the good of oneself sounds really good in words....but it isn't so easy in actions.
When did intimacy become such a fragile concept? Because, back in the beginning, sin won out in the human decision between the true love of God and the illusion of grandeur offered by a certain conniving snake. Before the fall, man and woman were naked without shame - both with each other and with their openness to God's plan for their lives. Yet after the fall, the first action of the man and woman was to sew fig leaves and hide from God.
Physical intimacy, in the true and only sanctioned, holy place of marriage, is the ability for a husband and wife to be knit together at the level of heart, mind, body and soul. Without shame, because there is a commitment to each other for life. Anything outside of this context is a cheap fake of the reality.
For instance, contracepted sex in marriage is a fallacy. With the very intimate act of sex in marriage, you give yourself freely, totally, faithfully andfruitfully. It is not only bonding with another person physically, but on a heart level. Contraception halts that bonding. With their bodies, the couple is naked, but they are not without shame, even if they claim to be. Because they feel the need to use contraception to prevent a pregnancy, they act ashamed of their fertility.
As if children are shameful and fertility is disease worth avoiding. In his book, Soul Cravings, Erwin Raphael McManus writes, "Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness. We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment."
So true intimacy between a man and a woman in a marriage covenant is a very beautiful gift from God. It is being without shame in every aspect of life - spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. It is not only sex - although sex is a vehicle for intimacy to develop in - but so much more.
It means looking at another person - looking at their hopes, dreams, loves, wishes, struggles, and flaws - and loving them because of and in spite of these. It also involves opening up to your spouse in such a way that they see into you as well. It is putting their human hearts into the hands of a divine lover, and walking side by side towards the plan He has for them.
Love is not an emotion - it is a decision. It doesn't always 'feel good.' The ultimate example of love is Christ, laying down his life for those who crucified him. It didn't 'feel good' to die from suffocation, weighed down by your own body, struggling to breathe. Love, sacrificial love, is a decision made when the going gets hard.
Do not reduce intimacy to sex. See it as the whole gift as it is - an expression of authentic love according to God's design.
Si vis amari ama,
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here