The word “Intimate” and derivatives of that word are bandied about in our 21st century society so casually that most of us seem to have lost track of the true meaning of these special terms. Just what is the true meaning of “Intimacy”, anyhow? And “How can I get some for myself?”
Unfortunately, that term has been misused in much the same way that the word “Love” has been, to the point that both have lost the special meanings which they originally held! Today, both of these terms are often misused to refer to physical, sexual stimulation. That IS NOT correct usage of either term!
True intimacy is a bonding of mind and spirit, such as that of a mother with the child that she has carried within her body for many weeks. Before the child is ever born, there is deeply personal interaction, as any activity by either one has an immediate impact on the other. Another, similar example is the interaction of identical twins. Their bond is even closer than might be explained by the physical closeness experienced in the womb, as they literally share genetic material. There are documented cases of such twins literally knowing one another’s thoughts and desires – even of twins separated at birth later choosing identical clothing, careers, and other evidence that they share values, desires, and aspirations.
These examples are incomplete and inadequate, yet they give us a glimpse of God’s perfect design for true intimacy. When He first introduced the concept of marriage, ‘way back in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.” (World English Bible)
That scripture pictures physical intimacy – but also a whole lot more. To truly be “one flesh” implies a bond, not only of bodies, but also of mind, spirit, and emotions. You may know some couples who exemplify that level of intimacy, but unfortunately, it seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. We have “advanced” – if you choose to call it that – during the past hundred years or so, from wondering whether it is appropriate to hold hands on the first date, to wondering whether it’s appropriate to kiss on the first date – to wondering whether there is ANYTHING off limits for a first date.
The natural result of this decline in values has been that people are “sexually intimate” who don’t even really know one another. Quite predictably, we end up with people having children out of wedlock with and / or of marrying people whom they don’t even like. There is no intellectual or spiritual intimacy in such relationships, and consequently, the physical intimacy is, in reality, nothing more than prostitution. In the long term, it is very unsatisfactory, and leads to frustration, separation, spousal abuse, and a host of related problems.
When homes and relationships are founded on nothing other than physical lust, is it any wonder that we are plagued with dysfunctional families? Yes it IS a plague. The negative impact of dysfunctional spousal relationships on the lives of developing children is well documented. The need for shelters to protect abused spouses is another symptom of such wrong headed “intimacy”.
Through the influence of ever more graphic movies, video games, perverted distortions of “sex education”, and of public and private discussions, our society has become so obsessed with the physical aspects of intimacy that young people are actually pushed – not only by improperly stimulated lust, but also by peer pressure and social expectations – to “be intimate” instead of first exploring and developing the foundations of true intimacy – the blending of mind and spirit, shared goals and ambitions.
This societal breakdown is further aggravated by the abandonment of scripture as the ultimate standard of right and wrong. Psalm 11:3 (World English Bible) expresses the dilemma well:
“If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
All too often God’s church has allowed “the world” to define our values. Christian people must return to Christian values – or stop claiming to be Christian. If we apply God’s standards of proper intimacy, we’ll begin with the essentials of mental, spiritual, and moral intimacy, and true physical intimacy will be the natural consequence – when appropriate – after all of the other aspects have been put in proper perspective.
Until you have experienced Godly intimacy, you can never understand true intimacy!