Intimacy is a great word. It’s kind of mysterious and a little coy as though it’s hiding a wonderful secret. The dictionary defines intimacy as being:

  • Close familiarity or friendship
  • A cosy and private atmosphere
  • Euphemistic term for sexual intercourse
  • Closeness of observation or knowledge of a subject.

In current culture, probably the most often utilised meaning is as a reference to sex – because lets face it, sex is everywhere. We use sex to sell things. We talk about it. We sing songs about. We make films dealing with. We write books about it. The truth is, though, that sex and intimacy are two very separate things.

One without the other

One of the most common misconceptions about sex and intimacy is that sex on its own fosters a sense of intimacy between two people. We see it in the movies and we read in novels how once a couple jump into a physical relationship they suddenly become this inseparable unit of closeness. In reality the act of sex can happen without an intimacy being present whatsoever.  Sex without a sense of closeness and love is really just putting the cart before the horse and can be a barrier to growing together as a couple

Intimacy, as the dictionary points out, is about closeness but it’s so much more than just physical closeness. True intimacy is about knowing someone. It’s about familiarity and seeing past the surface to the core of who they are. It’s about love.  Sex, although it is a beautiful expression of being intimate with your spouse, cannot create intimacy if it isn’t already present. The act of sex can take the form of a one-night stand, a non-consensual act, or even a business transaction, and will never produce true intimacy between those involved.

I see you

Some of the most intimate moments in a marriage happen outside of the bedroom. I once heard intimacy explained as being “in-to-me-see”. Real intimacy means sharing your hopes, dreams, and fears with each other. It’s about building trust and being vulnerable and allowing each other to see and know everything there is about you. It’s about making and nurturing a connection that can grow stronger with time and although sex is part of that bond it’s the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.

To know and be known

In Psalm 139 the Bible paints an amazing picture of what closeness should look like. The writer talks about their relationship with God; about being known inside and out and of being seen no matter where they are.

11I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…

13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb…
16 You saw me before I was born.

As stated before, sex is pretty much everywhere, but true intimacy is a rare and precious commodity

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