Monday, April 03, 2017

Intimate

In our "brave new world" we've managed to change meanings of many words and concepts, and not for the better. Sex was once the ultimate union of husband and wife and is now the plaything of "friends with benefits". Intercourse once meant any communication between people or groups -- social intercourse, economic intercourse, and, yes, sexual intercourse, but much more than that. Now it means only one of those. It's the same with "intimacy". In our current culture "intimacy" means one and only one thing -- sex. The word actually refers to very close association, contact, or familiarity. While that could (could, not must) include sexual intimacy, it is much, much more. Oddly enough, in today's world sexual intimacy requires very little actual intimacy at all.

Intimacy -- beyond the mere sexual -- is important to human beings. We need mental, verbal, emotional and other forms of intimacy. We need someone who we let inside. Proverbs says, "A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Prov 18:24) That's an intimate. Someone closer. More than an acquaintance. Closer than a close friend. An intimate friend. Ideally that would be your spouse, of course, but not everyone has a spouse and not everyone is intimate that way with their spouse.

We are people in need of genuine connections. We need mental intimacy, another mind that operates in the same channels that ours does. We each have various things important to us, and it's vital that we have someone else with whom to share those things. We all have feelings, some hidden, repressed, unexpressed but very much in need of acknowledgment by someone. Each of us needs someone who can share in some of our experiences that aren't shared by everyone. We need someone we can trust at that deepest of levels with our deepest thoughts, feelings, and concerns.

Unfortunately, it seems as if our society is losing this. There used to be a larger base of family from which to draw, the so-called "nuclear family" where we lived tightly connected to the community that is family. No more. Intimacy takes time, but we've become a largely transitory culture moving from place to place and job to job and even spouse to spouse, shortchanging intimacy in all these possible areas. Having relegated "intimate" to "sex" and shifted from largely face-to-face to electronic communications, genuine intimacy seems to be harder and harder. There are quiet cries from all over from people longing for that intimate connection but unable to find it.

We need intimacy. The world has gone a long way to avoid it. Our first necessary intimacy is with God. "Be still and know that I am God," He says (Psa 46:10). We are saved on the basis of Him knowing us (Gal 4:9). "If anyone loves God, he is known by Him." (1 Cor 8:3) But we need that close bond here with one another as well. We need people who we give permission to come into the deepest parts and share in our secret places. Not a lot. But one or two. It ia necessary.

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