On Intimacy


by Lambert Dolphin

To be intimate with someone is to share one's innermost self with that other person. In our society we seem to be desperately desirous of intimate relations but also fearful of what that may involve. In the past generation or two the requisites for intimacy have been turned around backwards: intimacy is sought by many first at the physical level, then at the emotional level, and last of all in the realm of the spirit! This the reverse of what our Creator tells us about fulfilled relationships with other persons! Since most of us have been disappointed by our parents, let down by our society, ripped-off by our friends and burned by our lovers, the tendency is to either settle for superficial friendships or avoid commitments altogether. The result is loneliness, emptiness and despair.

Actually, intimacy must begin with God. God is a Spirit and we are spirits. Our deepest nature is that of a spirit. The Bible says, "He who is joined to the LORD becomes one spirit together with Him." The writer, Paul, was speaking of spiritual union with God, with that inner marriage the First Commandment asks of us, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your might." Only when this principle is true as a prerequisite are we free to love and to know our fellow human beings. In fact idolatry is as simple as placing another person before one's relationship with God, (Rom. 1:22)!

To know God means we must learn who He is and what He is like. This is not enough. We must then adjust the way we live to coincide with what He likes and dislikes about behavior, thoughts, goals, and motivations. We must meet God as a Person---not as if He were merely an encyclopedia for knowledge or an emergency rescue resource. Since God is holy there can be no intimacy with God apart from a thorough confession of one's sins and a real catharsis of the heart. No area of the mind or emotions or memories should be kept to oneself, all must be shared with the God who loves us. We must flee for refuge to God daily and devote our whole selves to knowing Him at all costs. Only when He has free access to all the rooms of our hearts can we become the persons we desire to be. To come to know God intimately requires that we free time, schedules and cut conflicting relationships so He has our undivided attention. No area of our lives must go unexamined before Him in prayer. We can not expect intimacy with other persons to be any better, any deeper than that we have attained with our LORD. Neither can we take another person further than we ourselves have gone along the path of knowing God.

The New Testament speaks not so much of intimate relationships as of fellowship---holding all things together in common with Christ. Two Christians can not expect to enjoy the presence, wisdom, counsel and affection of their Lord together unless their lives before God are transparent and cleared of sin. Motives must be examined and laid bare. Man and wife can not expect their intimate relationship to develop unless both agree together on spiritual matters and God's order for family life.

Being joined to God, Spirit to spirit, is where intimacy begins. Concerning the deep (and godly) friendship between David and Jonathan, scripture says, "Their souls were knit together." When Jonathan was killed in battle David lamented, "Your love was wonderful to me, surpassing the love of a man for a woman." In marriage the third dimension can be added, "For the cause of marriage a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." That is, sexual relationships will never be honored by God outside of marriage. They will always be destructive and degrading to our personhood. God is seeking to make us into whole persons and in order for him to accomplish that we need above all else to devote ourselves to following him with undivided affections and full attention.

Yahweh, the living God who created us, is a personal God who longs to enter into intimate relationships with all who are willing to but seek Him. Ray Stedman once said, "God has many intimates but no favorites." What God asks of us is that we should learn to love Him first and foremost, with all our souls and all our strength and all our might. The follows the second of the greatest two commandments which is to love one's neighbor as oneself.

Lambert Dolphin