Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spiritual Intimacy


Image by ToniVC via Flickr

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.
Genesis 2:24-25 (HCSB)

Genesis 2:24-25 expresses the spiritual ideal for marriage. 

Leaving the family of origin

It is important to understand the meaning of this leaving.  Some would take this to mean that we must cut off our family of origin.  I have met with couples who take this stance.  They do this to there detriment at times in light of:

Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12 (HCSB)

Some would say that this command is only for children.  However Jesus plainly tells an adult that he is to honor his mother and father in Matthew 19:16-19.  So as you can see either we have a contradiction or the intent of Genesis 2:24 is not to communicate the idea of cutting off.  The idea captured by the word leave is that we are leaving something behind.  It is releasing some object.  Often those objects are a barrier that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be.  In this case holding on to intimacy with your family of origin will get in the way of full intimacy with your spouse.  Take a look at what Adam has just said in this passage:

And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called "woman," for she was taken from man.
Genesis 2:23 (HCSB)

Adam could not find a suitable helper from all of God's Creation.  First it should be recognized that man had a need.  We are incomplete in one sense without our helpmate. "This one" There is only one and not more than one, but "this one" is from me and with me.  There is hardly a more intimate bond that can be expressed than in the marriage relationship.  However not leaving the intimacy of your family of origin is detrimental to intimacy with your spouse. 

Not wanting to be misunderstood, let me plainly say that we need to honor our parents.  This would include listening to them, caring for them, seeking their wisdom, cherishing them, loving them, and respecting them.  This passage has no effect on this part of the relationship with our parents.  However, one must make a spiritual break from his or her parents if they are to experience oneness with his or her spouse. 


Bonding is the intimacy that occurs in a relationship that draw two together into one relationship.  Ideally the highest bond is our relationship with God.  Next in order would be our relationship with our spouse.  We bond to our spouse by approaching and holding.  This bond in consummated in the act of sexual intercourse (more on sexual intimacy in a future post).  Often in our free culture with regard to sexual morality we have weakened the bond by reducing the spiritual nature of sexuality into a mere act of gratification and procreation.  Bonding is a process that occurs as the couple meets, get's to know each other, develop trust, become physical, then sexually involved as well as Spiritually intimate.  Ideally the last part occurs in the safety and security of marriage bonds.  When people trade the bonding process for sex (the act not intimacy) then then tend to bond with whatever object is used for sexual gratification (more on this in the Sexual intimacy post). 

Becoming One

It is a great mystery of how two individuals can become one.  It is a spiritual connection that ties them together at the depth of the soul.  This oneness is expressed in all manner of actions and yet the actions themselves do not make a couple one.  For example oneness is expressed in devotion to one another.  However devotion is not a way to achieve oneness.  There is an expression that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.  In this case becoming one is greater than the acts that express that oneness.  Magnetic attraction is a useful illustration:

This is two magnets aligned to repel each other.  Note how the magnetic fields do not connect and radiate away from each other. 
This one the magnets are still aligned to repel, but are forced together.  It makes a nice flower shape, but still the fields radiate away from each other.
In this one the magnets are separated but aligned to attract each other.  You can see that even though there are two different fields they still are connected.   
In this picture the magnets are aligned to attract and are connected.  Notice there is one single new magnetic field that is created.   
What is more is that it looks like the magnetic field of a single magnet.

"The two shall become one"

Images use with permission Hoadley, Rick.  "Magnet Man".  1998-2010

These illustrate spiritual intimacy in this way. If a couple is not aligned spiritually no amount of forcing them together (even with religious doctrine) is going to make them one.  What is more the spirituality of the other is likely going to repel the other away from them.  For example this happens often when a spouse looks at the other and says he/she is not acting according to God's word while not examining whether they are loving or honoring their spouse in the way that God desires them to.   On the other hand, If a couple is aligned spiritually then separation will result in an attraction that pulls the couple back together.  What is more when they come together they become one.   The attraction or repulsion is evidenced by the effect on the two individuals, but the spiritual field is invisible to the naked eye. 

They Were Naked

Spiritual intimacy involves vulnerability at its deepest level.  Believe it or not being comfortable with each other while naked is a good measure of spiritual intimacy in my estimation.  If there is a lack of comfort then it indicates that the spouse has some insecurity that has not been overcome by spiritual intimacy.  That is not to say that you go around naked all the time.  But in those intimate moments there is a deep love and devotion toward each other that transcends nakedness.  There also is a purity spiritually speaking as well.  Note it was not until after sin entered the world that the first couple realized they were naked and they rushed to cover up at that point (see Genesis 3:7).  When sin enters a relationship spiritual intimacy breaks down. 

Feeling No Shame

Negative feelings are destructive to Spiritual Intimacy none more destructive than shame.  Shame seeks a way out, run away, cover up, escape, fight back, blame, close off, avoid, push away, and ultimately cut off.  Being able to come together and experience no shame is a spiritual event in the life of a couple.  It is a feeling of all is right in the world as long as we are together.  Without shame marriage is a place to honor, celebrate, admire, exult, prize your spouse.

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