Let’s face it; most of us aren’t comfortable talking about intimacy. It makes us cringe when brought up in religious circles. We largely associate it with the physical act of sex and therefore deem it inappropriate to discuss unless it’s a private conversation between consenting married adults. And we dare not bring up the subject in church! But what if we told you that intimacy is God’s idea, and that He invented it as a way to have a deep and meaningful relationship with us?
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” The Hebrew word for knew here is the word yada and has an intimate connotation. Jeremiah uses that word to describe how God feels about him. It signifies a deep and innermost understanding that transcends the shallow knowledge of an acquaintance or even the semi-deep knowledge of a friend. In fact, yada is the same word used in Genesis 4:1 that says, “Now Adam knew (yada) Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…”
The Intimacy Standard
The word yada has such an intimate connotation that it was able to be used as a euphemism for the sex act that brought Adam and Eve’s first child into the world. That’s the kind of intimate relationship that God wants to have with each of us.
You see, many of us think the word “intimate” is reserved for the sex act only but that’s not true. There is a concept of total intimacy that transcends the bedroom, that comes from God and must be remembered. Total intimacy is the notion that intimacy doesn’t begin in the bedroom, though the bedroom is often where its physical culmination takes place.
There is a relationship between the physical and the spiritual, which we will explore over the next several articles. Let’s delve into what we call, “The Four Pillars of Total Intimacy.” These four areas serve as the foundation for successful relationships everywhere.
- Radical Acceptance: This first pillar involves accepting your spouse for who he or she really is. This is a fundamental need in relationships to help unlock the highest level of intimacy in your marriage. Acceptance is the foundation for any human relationship, and without it comes hurt, resentment, and even contempt. “It is virtually impossible for people to [listen] unless they believe the other person understands, respects and accepts them for who they really are” (John Gottman).
- Resolutionary Communication: Resolutionary is not a word, but we use it here to emphasize a brand of communication that seeks to bring a resolution to conflict. This second pillar focuses on communication practiced in a “resolutionary” way, encouraging partners to be deliberate about trying to understand their significant other. They listen actively in order to perceive their partner’s perspective. Stephen Covey teaches that in relationships we must “[Seek] first to understand, rather than being understood.” When you feel listened to, your heart begins to soften. It becomes easier for you to respond in kind. Learning to resolve conflict well can open up the floodgates of intimacy in your relationship.
- Wholistic Foreplay: When we think of foreplay, we only think of the things that happen in the bedroom right before intercourse. Yes, that is one form of it, but foreplay, when thought about holistically, begins hours or even days before the physical event. This third pillar reveals the reality that the best foreplay often is not physical at all but is, instead, abstract, emotional and spiritual.
- Physical Oneness: 1 Corinthians 7:3 says, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs” (NLT). Physical oneness within a marriage is a requirement based on Paul’s advice here. This fourth pillar is a marital duty and an essential part of total intimacy because the physical is an expression of the spiritual. The way we treat and fulfill each other spiritually, during our day-to-day interactions, plays out within our physical encounters with one another. The two go hand-in-hand.
Intimacy has always been God’s idea, and believers everywhere should embrace the concept as something that transcends the physical act of sex alone. When we embrace intimacy as God’s idea, it frees us to enjoy our spouse with open and shame-free love to the betterment of our marriages. When understood properly, total intimacy can have a major impact on the bedroom and our overall relationship in remarkable ways.
John and April Nixon are content creators with a passion for relationship coaching. You can catch them live every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EST on their Just John & April YouTube channel. Follow them on IG and FB @justjohnandapril.”
This article is part of our 2022 January/February Issue