Summary: There are 3 types of intimacy in marriage, kind of like a three legged stool. Sometimes we try to make it by on one or two of these but you can’t stay balanced in life and marriage without all three.This sermon is about emotional Intimacy
Developing Intimacy in a Sex Crazed Culture
In today’s message, we’re going to look at Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. It’s in this letter that Paul speaks more about sexuality than any other letter in the New Testament. Paul came to Corinth somewhere between 50-52 AD to plant a church. Corinth was the provincial capital of Greece and had at least 100,000 residents and maybe up to 700,000 when most cities built by Rome were designed for 50,000. Corinth was polytheistic and had many temples but the main temple was dedicated to Apollo. The Acropolis was the highest point above Corinth and on it was the temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It had 1000 sacred prostitutes, both men and women, and people thought one way you worshipped God was to make an offering at the temple and then have sex with a temple prostitute. Sex was not just limited to the Acropolis. Corinth was known for its sex trade. This was fueled by the fact that Corinth was at the trade crossroads and one of the largest ports in the Roman era bringing in traders and sailors after long journeys and often looking for female companionship. This along with the Acropolis was a recipe for a sexually charged culture. One of the Greek words for fornication is Corinthianzona. Sex was so aligned with the city of Corinth that its name was in the word itself!
We too live in a sexually charged culture. This was driven home to me when we were visiting my in laws a number of years ago. Driving through downtown Mexico City, I was taking in the sights and a billboard caught my eye. It had the picture of a very attractive woman with long legs and in stockings and a bra, sitting on the edge of a bed with her head in her hands. The rest of the billboard was white but in the corner in small print, I saw the word ‘Tylenol.” We’re so sexually charged that headache medicine is sold using sex. Sex is seemingly everywhere and it’s easy to allow our culture’s view of sex to influence our understanding and experience of intimacy in life and even in marriage.
So how do you develop your love and intimacy in sexually charge world? Gary Chapman in his book, “Five Love Languages” introduces the concept of a love tank. If we allow our own or our spouse’s love tank to get low– develop a vacuum– we create space for something else to come in and fill it up. The lower it gets, the more opportunity a negative force has to put pressure on your marriage. And our culture offers us plenty– busyness, workaholism, pornography at our fingertips, relationships outside of marriage, hobbies, even church work! When we aren’t meeting the legitimate needs of our spouse, we put our marriages in a very dangerous position for something– or someone– else to meet them. So how can we fill each other’s love tank?
Les and Leslie Parrot are Christian ministers and marriage counselors. They have identified three Greek verbs for the love between husband and wife. The first is agape or sacrificial, self giving love. This is best exemplified in Jesus going to the cross. Agape is putting the needs of your spouse ahead of your own. Every time you see the word love in the New Testament, it’s the word agape. The second is eros. We get our word erotic from it. Eros is romantic, passionate, sexual love. According to Hollywood, this is the only kind of love between men and women. The third is philia. We get the name Philadelphia from it, the “City of Brotherly Love.” That’s communication and friendship between spouses. It’s an incomplete image of love but it's the only one represented in our sex crazed culture.
The challenge in developing intimacy is that our culture has accepted a false sense of intimacy. We have replaced face-to-face conversations with texting and emails, exchanged close intimate friends with acquaintances and confused indiscriminate sex with intimacy and even love. We even seem to lack intimacy in marriage today. Take the husband and wife who go to the coffee shop to spend time together and one is engrossed in their iPad and the other their iPhone. I’ve seen couples sit there and not say anything to each other for 30 minutes! Yet marriage is meant to be an intimate and holy bond to one another which is unmatched and is marked by intimate, emotional connection and communication. Use image of a three legged stool There are 3 types of intimacy in marriage, kind of like a three legged stool. Sometimes we try to make it by on one or two of these but you can’t stay balanced in life and marriage without all three. And you will never experience the depth of intimacy that God created us for until you have all three actively present.