Love, Sex and Spiritual Intimacy
Today is Valentine’s Day and love is the big word. But what is love? New polls show that over half of singles have sex on the first date. Sex is quickly being substituted for love. As a follower of Christ and believer in the principles for intimacy in Scripture, I believe that God lays out the best design for love, sex and intimacy. It all starts with spiritual intimacy not sexual intimacy.
Early in our six month whirlwind romance, Hillary and I realized that spiritual intimacy was an important part of our blossoming relationship. We were students at a Christian college and had many examples of godly marriages all around us. I remember drawing the love triangle that you see above for Hillary. We had heard numerous talks about how a Christian couple needs to seek God first and as they grow closer to God, they will grow closer together. So being the good Christian college students we were, we started praying together about our relationship. As we prayed together our spiritual intimacy grew and our physical intimacy wanted to keep up. (Note to dating couples: praying together is dangerous). At some point we realized that it wasn’t good to pray together after 10 pm.
Then when we were married and we could fully express our sexual intimacy, our spiritual intimacy quickly fell out of practice. I remember at one point about 2-3 years into our marriage realizing that praying together was awkward. Something had changed in our spiritual intimacy with God. It was at this point that we realized that something needed to change in our relationship with God as a couple.
Now ten years after that whirlwind romance, we are experiencing the benefits of keeping spiritual intimacy as first priority in our marriage. It isn’t something that just sticks. We have to work on it each day both individually and together. But the benefits of seeking God individually and together has big payoffs in our emotional and sexual intimacy.
Here are some of the practices that have helped us keep spiritual intimacy at the forefront of our relationship.
Develop a Personal Devotional Rhythm
Spiritual intimacy in marriage starts with each of us individually. How do you connect with God on a daily basis? Are you developing a rhythm of daily Scripture reading? YouVersion and Examen.me are two great online resources for starting a daily Bible reading schedule. Getting “fed” at church on Sunday mornings is not enough nourishment to grow in our relationship with the Lord just as going to the gym once a week or talking with our spouse once a week is not enough.
Hillary and I have tried different things over the years. There was a time that we prayed each morning before I left for work. Now with Anna in school and Hillary watching a friend’s baby, this is hard to do. So now we pray together after we watch our weekly online sermon from Lifechurch.tv. This is a great time to talk to God together and share what is on our hearts spiritually. Find a rhythm that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
Hillary knows my struggles and temptations. Nothing is hidden from her. I know experientially what it is like to keep a secret from Hillary and it is not worth it (see Psalm 32:3). The best picture we have of true intimacy is in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve could walk naked with God and feel no shame. This was much deeper than just a physical nakedness but a spiritual nakedness where there was no sin or hidden secrets. Does your spouse know what you struggle with? I know we like to portray our strength and not let our spouses know where we are weak, but true strength comes when we admit our weaknesses and need for help.
Spiritual intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work each day. There are definitely days and seasons where I don’t feel like praying with Hillary or sitting down to read my Bible. There are nights when I just want to come home and veg in front of the TV. But there are huge benefits to seeking spiritual intimacy first with Hillary.
So focus this Valentine’s Day on spiritual intimacy with your spouse. We were designed and created for it.