Well, here we are talking about the subject on everybody’s mind. When it comes to intimacy, how far is too far? More like, how close is too close? What’s the appropriate snuggle to space ratio here?
Well, jokes aside, there are some things we must discuss before arriving at an answer. What is intimacy? What is the importance of it? Is it worth valuing? And if so, is it that value worth safeguarding?
These are landmark questions that shape how we think about intimacy as Christians. There’s more to intimacy than just sex. Let’s explore that concept.
Different Types of Intimacy
Whenever someone hears the word “intimacy,” their brain immediately transitions to thinking about sex as the subject of the conversation. It’s the most natural reaction to the word. Physical intimacy gets the spotlight due to its allure and desirability, but there are a few different types of intimate behavior.
Emotional intimacy is actually the most common type of intimacy experienced. It has both romantic and platonic qualities. Meaning, you can be emotionally intimate with both a romantic partner or a good friend. This is well demonstrated in the Bible through the story of Jonathan and King David (2Samuel 1:26). All those best friends you have are based upon some form of emotional intimacy in the relationship.
There’s also spiritual intimacy. As a Christian, you are spiritually intimate with God through the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit resides in the body of believers (1Corinthians 3:16). His presence and spiritual communion are vital to the sanctification process.
That’s how spiritual intimacy is inextricably linked to physical intimacy for a Christian. Over time, the sanctification process results in continual alignment with the teachings of the Bible (John 17:17). So, because of a Christian’s spiritual intimacy with the Holy Spirit, they are called to also follow the teachings in the Bible about physical intimacy.
From those Biblical teachings, we recognize and understand that sexual immorality is contrary to the will of God and the sanctification process (1Thessalonians 4:3).
The Importance of Sexual Purity
Okay, so why is sexual purity such a big deal to God? Is He just being a cosmic killjoy or is there a bigger purpose behind His will for it?
Biblically speaking, sex is the metaphysical union of two bodies. Two people are choosing to become one person, and it’s done with the intention of never being separated again (Mark 10:6-9). As that passage notes, it’s supposed to be done in the context of marriage. It’s a beautiful gift and sneak-peek of how amazing heaven will be.
Your Father in heaven wants to give you this gift as a wedding present. But, just imagine you stole this present from your Father before your wedding day came. You would be turning a good gift into an evil crime. What was meant for your good has become an offense against your Father.
Sex is the primary motivator for most worldly relationships. But be warned, those people are stealing from God. We caution you not to have sex before marriage nor flirt with what you can get away with by avoiding intercourse. “Sexual immorality” covers a multitude of sexual sins.
Make no mistake, sex is great! But it’s only truly great in the context of marriage. It should only be enjoyed within a committed, lifelong relationship with your husband or wife. This is by God’s design, and it was designed for your good.
Part of that good design is sparing you from heartache. Breakups suck because you’ve been emotionally intimate with someone romantically. They suck infinitely more after you’ve been physically intimate with them.
Imagine how painful it would be to have your body ripped in half while you were still alive. Horrid, right? Now apply that feeling to the two bodies of the people that were united together metaphysically. It’s just one of the sobering consequences of sex before marriage.
The Apostle Paul gives you the playbook for how to deal with the temptation of sexual immorality (1Corinthians 6:18). Don’t resist it; flee from it. When choosing the fight or flight response to this situation, God through Paul says flight!
Setting Boundaries with Your Partner
Time for some practical application. There are some romantic guardrails that you should build and maintain. They’ll help keep premature intimacy away from your relationship.
If you have failed before, trust me, you’re not alone. You can’t undo the past, but you can resolve to succeed in the future. After all, God already demonstrated to you that He’s in the business of giving people second chances by sending Jesus.
So let’s do it right this time. Everybody knows the phrase “babe, we need to talk” means something serious is about to be discussed. And you definitely need to talk about this subject with your partner face-to-face. Don’t text this type of conversation, make it a personal interaction. It needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
First, alone time together in the bedroom needs to be a no-no. Watching a movie in bed together is begging for trouble. Keep your alone time together safe from temptation and preferably in public places like the movie theater.
Second, set the limit for physical intimacy to kissing only. Yea yea, we know…your fleshly desires can groan about it all they want (Romans 8:5-7). But when they do, tell your body to shut up and obey the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 9:26-27). Your body is not the master of you, you are the master of it!
Third, pray daily for spiritual strength in this physical world. Both of the above suggestions will become much more attainable through the consistency of prayer. A praying person will stop sinning, and a sinning person will stop praying. That’s a truism that you can bank on.
It all boils down to respect. Do your partner have it for you? Do you have it for yourself? Both of those questions are able to be answered by the actions of each from this point forward.