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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Marriage - True Intimacy

God created male and female so man could have fellowship.

The woman was the first person Adam had to know and get along with. The starting place for peace and harmony for the human race is still found in the home between the husband and wife. The Scripture tells us that Adam "knew Eve his wife" in Genesis 4:1. The word "know" means more than physical knowledge, or union. It means there is an open line of communication between two people where they know and understand one another's thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It is a transparent sharing of our spirit with someone else. Fellowship is more than knowing someone else's name - it is when we open up to one another and begin to share thoughts and ideas - to talk and communicate, and to care about the thoughts and feelings of someone else. Fellowship is when we do not just pass someone by, or take them for granted, but stop to talk to them and get to know them, and allow them to see into us, also. We may fellowship with a lot of people as we live day by day whom we never get to know very well. Fellowship is the first step in getting to know someone and it remains pretty shallow with most of the people we are around. Nevertheless, it remains an important part of the marriage relationship. It is the every day, shallow water you wade in together. This is where courtship starts and it is also where the breakdown of a marriage begins. Without exception, the communication shuts down between husband and wife long before the divorce papers are filed. Why does this happen?

Sin in either husband or wife will cause the communication to stop.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

If both parties are not walking in the light there cannot be any fellowship between them. If either has secret sins they will not be willing to be open with their spouse, but will be continually hiding from and deceiving them. There will be a wall around their heart with the gate shut tight. If a person is hiding their soul it is either because they have darkness in their heart, or it is because their companion hurts them when they try to open up. A person who walks in darkness will keep the curtain drawn on their soul and whatever fellowship anyone has with them, including their spouse, will always be limited to very shallow and insignificant matters.

So the marriage relationship, by God's design, is very conducive to holiness and walking in the light. Being completely open and transparent with your spouse is a great obstacle to walking in darkness - you simply cannot do it and maintain fellowship, communion, and intimacy. Therefore, it is called "Holy Matrimony." A godly marriage makes living a holy life much easier to do.

Continued fellowship can lead to communion.

Commune - To converse; to talk together familiarly; to impart sentiments mutually, in private or familiar discourse.

Communion is a step further than mere fellowship. It is when you begin to share each other's feelings and sentiments. It is when you reach out and touch each other's soul. It is when you begin to be concerned more with the happiness and wellbeing of the other than yourself. It is when you begin to understand each other and get close - you begin to be dependent on one another, and develop a real need for each other that goes beyond the physical. We have all heard it said about a certain couple that he or she could not live without the other, and we have seen examples of it in older couples who die sometimes within hours of each other. True communion is when you do not tire of each other's presence and company. To develop true communion with your spouse requires time and effort, it just does not happen any other way. You must regularly make time for each other where you have each other's undivided attention. Communion is important, but most people try to leap from fellowship to intimacy while skipping this important part of the relationship. Skipping communion of the hearts and then substituting physical intimacy for true intimacy leaves both feeling guilty, frustrated, unsatisfied, and used. This is what has happened in our loose-living world that has tried to make sex an amoral issue. True communion leads to true intimacy.

True intimacy is when love has developed beyond the shallow waters of fellowship and the communion of two hearts.

It is when you have completely believed in one another, and you are no longer being driven by physical attraction alone, but by the character of the soul you have come to love. They have completely convinced you of their undying love for you, and have won your heart. It is when the two become one - one in mind, in heart, and in purpose, one in priorities and in affections. It is when you reach that point where you cannot live without the other. It is when you come to the point of giving yourself completely to your spouse without reserve. There is complete openness because there is nothing to hide and no secrets to keep. Therefore, there is no obstacle to total commitment to one another. For intimacy to be real and blessed of God it must flower behind the veil of commitment. This is what constitutes marriage and distinguishes it from fornication and adultery, also known in our day as just "living together."

Intimate - When the thoughts are entrusted to another without reserve.

The Bible gives us a very good description of intimacy in Psalms 139:

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. (Psalms 139:1-4)

Then later in the same Psalm David makes this request of God, even though he has already acknowledged that God knew everything about him:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (Psalms 139:23)

By God's design husband and wife are to experience this same type of knowledge of one another. They are to have this same kind of open access to one another's hearts. This is true intimacy, and it does not exist between a couple who will not publicly commit to one another, or who maintain their own separate secret places where the other is not included or welcome.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:25)

It requires absolute transparency. No secrets in the things we do and the places we go. In the other people with whom we fellowship. But it must go much, much deeper than that and include transparency in the innermost soul. A man cannot KNOW his wife if she will not open her soul to him, and a woman cannot KNOW her husband unless he will do likewise. So any kind of secrets or sin in either shuts down the intimacy and the relationship is grounded and severely limited. Although they may continue their physical intimacy it is unsatisfying and frustrating. Their relationship is more like that of good friends or roommates. They may know a lot about one another and have a lot of common experiences, but they never find that oneness of soul that God intended when He created a help meet for Adam. They may have feelings for one another and have no desire to break up their marriage, but they have missed what it is all about and robbed themselves of the greatest blessings of life.

Fellowship, communion, intimacy - this is the order in which the husband-wife relationship is supposed to develop.

When they think about it everyone knows this to be true, yet they skip carelessly down the path of courtship to marriage deceiving themselves about one another and their openness. It is considered by most people now to be domineering by the man to want to really know his wife, or his future wife. It is considered controlling and clinging if a woman really wants to know her husband, or her future husband. Everyone seems to be of the opinion that everyone needs their space and there should be parts of our life that are closed off to our spouse. We need to use some common sense here and not be unreasonable and ridiculous. It doesn't mean that we must be together every moment of every day. Obviously, there are some situations where it is not appropriate or not possible to be together. There are situations and activities where the man or the woman would be out of place or even in danger. Neither my wife nor I would be comfortable if she were by my side while I was cutting trees down or thrashing through a briar patch. Neither would I be comfortable at a quilting party or baby shower with her. But there should be no place or activity that either is involved in that the other is barred from knowing about, as well as who is there with you and what you do while you are there. If one has the desire to be apart from their spouse in order to fellowship with people and do things without their knowledge it is a sure sign that they are not intimate, and trouble is about to knock down the door of their marriage.

In spite of the obvious truth of these matters most people reject it and pretend to be fellowshipping, communing, and intimate, when they are really only casual acquaintances. They go ahead and get married under these conditions and soon find themselves in deep trouble. This is also why unfaithfulness is so devastating in marriage. The one to whom you have given your most intimate self and trusted completely has counted your love and trust as nothing and betrayed you. Because marriage is such a deep and intimate relationship the very soul of that person is deeply wounded and scarred, and will struggle with ever opening up again. Then what about the children? They watch as the foundation of all the order in their life is blown apart and annihilated. They see what was thought to be love turn to hatred and bitterness. We see the damage all around us with all the broken marriages and immoral relationships. Our society is like a giant train wreck that is happening in slow motion. When some of the wheels leave the track there is so much force behind them that it is impossible to get them back on the tracks again, and their being off the track causes those coming along behind them to derail, also. 

The relationship between God and man is reflected in this husband-wife relationship.

Most people do not have fellowship with God or his people at all. This is the basic reason that marriages are in such disorder and failing so miserably. Most people who do fellowship with God at all are very careful to stay in the shallowest water they can find. They just go to church once in a while and say religious things on Facebook sometimes, but do not search the Scriptures, meditate on them, and pray. Some people commune with God, but it is limited to set times and places and the rest of their time and life is spent with others. Then there are the few who find real intimacy with God. They are the ones who open up the secret places of their heart to God and allow him full access to their entire being. They are those who abide with him and keep no secrets from him. They fellowship and commune with God always, and have special intimate moments with him where the entire world and every other person is excluded.

So in order to be able to get along with our fellow men and have a happy and successful marriage, we must have a proper understanding of God and a right relationship with Him first. Do not miss your opportunity to know God.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6)
All this is why Jesus said the greatest business of life is:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; ... (Matthew 6:33)

Better get to it …

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