The importance of intimacy

It is said that any ‘Sex and love Addiction is an Intimacy disorder’. It’s about time we started taking our intimate relationships seriously. Simply put, intimacy is ‘to know’ and ‘be known’. It is one of the most basic needs of all humanity – we all long to know ourselves, have others know us, and know others too.

The Origins of Intimacy

Before the beginning of time, the Father desired to have a family. Firstly, in the form of the trinity, and then with mankind, initially with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26). A significant part of this relationship included Father God’s desire to know Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and Adam and Eve, and then to be known by them in a deep and profound way. 

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes: ‘For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known’ (NKJV). The Apostle, Paul, is making it clear that our heavenly bodies will be known completely, and we will know others, including the trinity, in the same way. Therefore, this knowing links us to heaven and is very significant to God. This knowing is what we understand as intimacy. Being intimate (knowing and being known) separates us from animals; gives us the capacity to confront pain, and allows us to find deep meaningful relationships. Intimacy makes us part of the heavenly family and re-instates each one of us to being able to experience the intimacy that Adam and Eve would have experienced with God in Eden.

Jesus was an intimate man – He had deep relationships with many people, both men and women. In the context of Jesus’ life on earth, his encounter with Mary Magdalene who anointed his feet, was deeply intimate (Mark 14: 3 – 5). The fact that she used perfume worth a year’s wages and then wiped His feet with her hair was alarming to the onlookers, because in that time, woman only let down their hair in the spousal bedroom. Her action was honouring what she knew of Jesus, and helping others to see His majesty.

Jesus understood intimacy, but he didn’t need to sexualize it. Jesus had close relationships with his mother and John, so much so that he made sure Mary had a family and home with John, when he died on the cross (John 19:25) – in this home, she would continue to be known, and be given the opportunity to know others. In this, we see that Jesus knew that family intimacy was essential. The whole of Jesus’ life on earth reveals Him as open to share his heart and life’s blood (literally too) and open to receive, listen, affirm, validate and love those who were willing to share their heart with Him.

These origins emphasise how essential being intimate is. An inability to be intimate with oneself and others is one of the most common causes of unhealthy sexual behaviour. This lack of intimacy is possibly the most significant reason people engage in pre-marital, or casual sex that creates havoc in their lives, and the generations that follow. One of the reasons for this is that a lack of intimacy causes people to yearn so deeply for closeness that they believe sexual interaction will make up for it – in other words, they sexualise this need for closeness. 

Sex, in the right context, is one of the deepest forms of intimacy because it is a complete exposing (physically as well) of our person, with someone else. Sadly, sex can also be had with little, if any, intimacy. If there is no meaningful desire to know or be known between the couples that are having sex, it’s as good as sharing a very precious, costly secret with someone who will not value it and protect it . Too many people mix up their need to know and be known emotionally and intellectually, with sex, which can too quickly create unhealthy sexual scripts that can become addictive. Many porn addicts attest to this being at the heart of their struggle.

Intimacy needs to be developed intentionally for us to become real, authentic human beings that can love extravagantly and be loved in return. So let’s deal with this now. Take some time to:

  1. Acknowledge who you are in God’s eyes – be honest.
  2. Consider how you feel about who you are – why do you feel this way?
  3. Share your revelations of who you are with someone close to you.
  4. Allow them to respond to you.
  5. Validate the person by pointing out something you notice about them.

This process seems very simple and far removed from any sexual behaviour, but be assured that filling ourselves up with the truth of who we are, sharing it accurately with others, and then validating others, is essential to becoming sexually healthy beings.

If you would like to receive further counsel, or join others in a journey to a healthy, Godly, sexual lifestyle, please see the options available to you on our website: wonderfullymade.org.za.

Don’t be a pain – let it work for you! (2)

Don’t be a Pain – use it! (2)

Ignoring our pain will cause us to become a pain – whether it be to ourselves or those around us. Sexual pain is one of the deepest forms of pain and often results in unhealthy sexual ways or thinking that creates even further pain. In my previous blog, I spoke about embracing our pain. May you become one of those who has the courage and strength to do that.

One of the most sobering moments for me as a white South African pastor was when I attended a conference that considered the African male identity. Apart from hearing some heart-wrenching stories in which African men had experienced intense pain, I was introduced to a restoration process that has meant much to me and helped many of my clients. The conference explored a strategy of freedom through which male Africans need to progress so that they can find healing from the pain of Colonial supremacy and patriarchal domination. The suggested stages of real healing and recovery include:

  1. Identification and discovery of the depth of the wound.
  2. Identification of the consequences of the wound.
  3. Healing and recovery from the wound (Reconciliation).

In many African countries, the first stage of identifying the depth of the wound has been addressed (in South Africa the Truth and Reconciliation commission played a significant role in this). Unfortunately, the long-term consequences of the wound have often not been explored and empathised with. So, in many countries that have experienced deep pain, citizens are angry because the longed-awaited reconciliation and recovery is still not a reality. In many cases, this is because the consequences of wounds have not been understood and felt. So, the much-desired recovery and reconciliation has not been realised.

 

As a sexuality counsellor, while the conference experience was difficult, it has helped me to guide people, more effectively to find freedom from pain. I have seen the need for people to follow these three stages of recovery to find freedom from sexual trauma or pain. In order to follow this process, we need to take down our defences and allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light into our hearts so that we can be honest with our pain. This can be painful in itself, but the freedom is well worth it. So, if we follow this strategy at a personal level, it can look something like this:

Identification and discovery of the depth of the wound.

Accepting and quantifying the depth of a sexual wound is painful and needs the gentle love of the Holy Spirit to remove some of the encrusted infected scabs of unforgiveness and shame. Once clients have been able to accept this pain and meaningfully release and forgive those that may have caused it, the Spirit’s healing balm can be applied and soothing repair can begin. Forgiving others and repenting of the lies and beliefs that the victim has allowed to dominate his/her existence becomes easier now. This process is also like healing ointment flushing out the wound. This process can take a moment, days, months or years – it is delicate, but in the hands of Jesus, the True healer, no time will be wasted.

Identification of the consequences of the wound.

Like any physical wound, a scar often forms which becomes a limitation to future activities. In the same way, the scars of an emotional or spiritual wound limits our capacity and ability to engage life. Assisting clients to quantify this limitation also helps them to fully accept and embrace the new life they can now enjoy. Walking with a limp validated Jacob’s calling because it marked his fight with the angels and rooted his calling to something ‘beyond this world’. In the same way, our limitations and scars are not signs of failures, but root our calling in the redemptive power of God. God’s world is an upside world. Our limitations become His opportunities and in the same way, the consequences of our pain and wounding become His opportunity for the miraculous to be manifest. It’s not easy to count the consequences of our pain, but it is helpful to realise the redemptive gift they become in the hands of our miracle working God. God is always up for a circumstance to confound the wisdom and limitations of this world, and our acknowledgement of the consequences of our pain becomes the fertile ground for this to happen.

Healing and recovery from the wound (Reconciliation).

Only once we have allowed Jesus, the wounded, gentle healer into our wounds, and allowed Him into their consequences, can we fully find recovery and reconciliation. It is always our choice and I have had the privilege of helping many through this process.

 

Sexual wounds are often the deepest kind of wound. They also tend to have the most painful consequences. Because of this, when we allow Jesus into them, we will find an outpouring of extravagant love that will bring bucket-loads of freedom, healing, refreshing and hope. My prayer is that you can take that step towards recovery. This is using our pain!