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 deals with spiritual intimacy
Developing Intimacy in Marriage, Part 2
Last week, we looked at the challenge for followers of Christ of developing intimacy in our relationships in a sex crazed world. Intimacy is like a three legged stool. You have to have all three aspects to be balanced in marriage and to experience all God intends for your relationships. Last week, we introduced the first of three types of intimacy in marriage: emotional intimacy. Paul writes, “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 In other words, we ought to be just as in touch with the needs of our spouse as we are our own. And just as we seek to fulfill our needs whether that be hunger, thirst or sleep, we must seek to fulfill the emotional needs of our spouse. The foundation of emotional intimacy is built on trust and vulnerability. You have to be able to trust each other implicitly so that you can be free to be who you really are while still knowing you will be loved and accepted unconditionally.
Our Scripture today teaches us that marriage is a holy union. The actual Greek here means to be brought into completeness. This is not just about being brought into wholeness with another person, we’re talking about a complete union with God reflected in our relationships. There’s a sacred union which occurs within the bonds of marriage meaning it is unlike any other. You get to know your spouse in a deeper way than you know anyone else. Intimacy is like a three legged stool. Image of a stool with emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy Part of that comes through emotional intimacy but the second leg of that stool is spiritual intimacy. So what is spiritual intimacy? In his book, “The Spiritually Intimate Marriage,” Don Harvey says spiritual intimacy is: Being able to share your spiritual self, find this reciprocated, and have a sense of union with your mate. When you attain that, everything changes. You might compare it to the difference between a black-and-white TV and a Plasma HD television, or an old transistor radio to Surround Sound. Marriages which are spiritually intimate are able to enjoy a greater depth of intimacy than those who aren’t connected to each other spiritually.
Norman Wright tells the story of a young woman who came in his office animated: "I never dreamed what has happened in our marriage during the past year was possible. We've gone along for years just sort of ho-hum. Nothing bad, nothing spectacular—just steady. I guess we were in a rut. It was comfortable, and I guess we felt, or I did, that this was the way it would always be. But Jim came home from that men's conference and made all kinds of changes….The first thing he did was come up to me and apologize for not telling me that he prayed for me every day, and had for years. How would I have ever known?...A week later he asked me how I would feel about praying together and reading from the Bible occasionally. I have to laugh now because it's like he wanted me to but wasn't sure how I would respond. So we did. I can't explain why or what happened, but there is this incredible sense of bonding or closeness now that we never had before. We pray. We read. We share. Sometimes I call him and pray a sentence prayer for him over the phone. He does the same. And our sex life is a whole different story (now). Others have seen our relationship change. And when they ask, we tell them….we're finally experiencing what the Bible says about cleaving in the full sense of the word." And then Norman writes, “Spiritual bonding. Spiritual intimacy. Spiritual closeness. Desired, yet avoided. Available, yet elusive for so many… Many marriage partners today feel close to their spouses in every way except spiritually.” Brian Harbour puts it this way, “The greatest single cause of difficulty in the home today is a lack of spiritual concern. Either purposely or inadvertently, we leave God out of our marriages.” Marriage, more than anything is meant to be a spiritual commitment. This is what God intended and yet so few achieve it in their marriage.
Why aren’t couples closer spiritually? First, many believe faith is a private matter. As long as we believe this, we will never be as strong as we can be standing together. In 1 Cor. 7:5 Paul calls couples to “devote yourselves to prayer…” Paul is speaking here of the spiritual relationship between a husband and wife which is the foundation to building a great marriage and sustaining a lifelong commitment to one another. We are meant to share the spiritual journey with each other. No man or woman is meant to be an island to themselves in the faith. You hear people say, “I don't need the church. I can worship on my own.” Well, let me ask you a question: if there’s war going on, would you rather fight that battle alone or with others by your side. Brothers and sisters, whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s a spiritual battle going on. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This is why Paul calls us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil ….”