Ask anyone what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word intimacy and 99% would probably be something of a sexual nature. Sex and intimacy are nearly inseparable in our minds (try googling intimacy and see for yourself!). Here’s a test: what do you make of this biblical account?
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. (2 Samuel 1:26)
Surely Jonathan and David enjoyed a sexual relationship….right? And this must bear witness that same-gender sexual relationships are endorsed by Scripture…right? Um NO. Why is it so hard to believe that Jonathan’s simple friendship was more precious to David than his complicated relationships with women? Why couldn’t he have enjoyed the non-sexual intimacy with Jonathan more than the sexual intimacy he had in bed with his wives? The fact that these possibilities are hard to believe, gives evidence of just how much sex has become an idol. Sex is not the only way to true intimacy.
Because I must say no to sexual intimacy, my life must be a lonely one, void of what I need to survive and thrive, right? Well it is true that human beings need intimacy; without it, we die(literally)! But the answer is living in community. My source of intimate relationship doesn’t have to be solely found through a sexual partner(thank God). This means that God isn’t denying me true intimacy after all, but…. …..society, sexualized culture, and the church does at times.
The world can’t cope with intimate relationships that aren’t sexual. Sometimes, fear does push me to hold back from deepening friendships because of the temptation to be viewed as “inappropriate” by others. In church, we’ve promised that sexual intimacy within Christian marriage will bring all the intimacy you will ever need or want. “If our churches put as much time and energy into promoting good friendships as they do good marriages, life would be much easier for people like me”(The Plausibility Problem by Ed Shaw). I wonder the same because intimacy matters.
Families and marriages fail too often because they are trying to answer too many human needs. A spouse is required to be a lover, a friend, a mother, a father, a soul mate, a co-worker, and so on. Few people can be all these things for one person. And when demands are set too high, disappointment can only follow. If husbands and wives have deeper and stronger friendships outside the marital unit, the marriage has more space to breathe and fewer burdens to bear. (Andrew Sullivan)