Friday, April 20, 2007

03 intimacy

03 Intimacy

People seek intimacy. People need intimacy. We are made to live in a community, a community where we can be ourselves and not be judged. We were created to live in relationships, relationships that are mutual and allow us to be vulnerable without fear. We need a place to be real and share our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, fears and thoughts. This is true intimacy. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to find true intimacy and people sometimes settle for whatever they can get. They settle for intimacy lite.

Why do they settle? Intimacy, true relational intimacy, can be hard to find and hard to accomplish. First it takes energy and attention. A close intimate relationship doesn’t happen by accident and you don’t just stumble into them. No they are intentional! You have to devote energy to make this kind of relationship work. You have to pay attention to it and keep it alive through open and honest communication. This all takes time. You have to spend time and energy together. It requires “face time” one on one time in the same actual physical space and not just on the phone or instant messaging someone. (I am a big web 2.0 fan but I know that I will not find true community or intimacy through a social networking sight, on Second Life or in a chat room.) Finally, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. In an intimate relationship each person has to be open and honest and take the risk! You will never know people for who they truly are unless you allow them to see you for who you really are. The masks come off. Time together builds the trust the relationship needs for vulnerability to exist.

Many think this is too much to risk, so they take short cuts. The most used short cut is to use sex as a substitute. Sex is not intimacy. It makes people feel intimate and close but it does not create true openness, honest and vulnerability required for true intimacy. Our society has sexualized intimacy and fed the lie that you can substitute physical intimacy for the real thing.

Our society has perverted the word intimacy by making it mean something that it is not. Intimacy is not a physical act. Intimacy is a relationship where you can be real and vulnerable. It is a relationship that costs each member time, energy and attention to make it work. It is a relationship that opens us up to the biggest risks but it offers the biggest rewards.

My point is this: men and women can have a close intimate relationship without being sexual active. It is normal and healthy for men to have close relationships (not sexual) with other men just as it is normal for women to have these close relationships as well. This is how we were created and what we need. The LORD created us to live in a community or friendship where we can be our true selves. He does not want us to settle for something that might feel good for a moment but is fake.
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