Okay, I just had an impromptu sex talk with my 23 year-old daughter. LOL! No worry, she doesn’t read my blogs! We have talked some before, but today she came in from college and she agreed to sit and listen for a minute. We talked about the value of authentic intimacy; that there is a difference between sex and love; that sex is more meaningful when it is the capstone of relational intimacy and love. Here’s what I showed her.
Intimacy begins at the SOCIAL level. We meet the other person for the first time at a party, or at a social gathering of some kind. In this environment we are free to be ourselves (hopefully) and no one is thinking of impressing a love-interest. Maybe we part ways, but meet up again in a few weeks or months at another social gathering. An interest in the other person begins to grow effortlessly at this level.
But when a man asks for a woman’s number; when he texts her after the party; when he calls her the next day— these behaviors are now moving the relationship to the next level, the EMOTIONAL level. This is the level where we are now connecting more intentionally: talking, eating out, going to the movie, meeting up at church, escorting one another to banquets, weddings or crawfish boils.
It’s at the EMOTIONAL level where we first hold hands and touch, where we hug good-bye, where the first kiss happens, and where that “look” is made with one another, eye to eye, heart to heart. It is at this level that most couples get too close, too soon.
However, if this relationship is going to grow in intimacy, then both parties will find themselves impressed with the RELATIONAL skills of the other person. The man will say to himself, “I like the way she treats her friends; they all seem to appreciate her so much; I like it that she is a thoughtful friend.” The woman might think to herself, “I like the way he treats women; I like the way he talks to his mom on the phone; I like the way his friends respect him . . . and I think I do, too.” At this level there is admiration and appreciation for how the other relates to important people in their lives.
However, if this relationship is to keep growing in intimacy, then the next level of intimacy must be the INTELLECTUAL level. At this level a couple likes the way the other speaks their ideas; they like what the other person is reading; that the other person has even read a book in the last ten years!; that the other person votes the same way; thinks about work and recreation in a compatible way. At this level both parties appreciate the compatibility of their home values, life values, and life goals.
Intimacy is continuing to grow.
If both people are spiritual Christians, then the next level is critical. SPIRITUAL intimacy means that the couple is finding agreement about where to worship, how to worship. They both show the same appreciation for God working in their lives as individuals and as a couple; they share similar values toward Scripture, evangelism, missions, ministry and calling in a way that inspires togetherness. Spiritually, they both can see that God has brought them together.
Intimacy is continuing to grow and the man is now thinking about buying a ring, calling the pastor to set up pre-marital counseling, and he is thinking about where and how he will ask her to marry him. After the wedding, according to God’s design, the couple is invited by God to step up into the final level of intimacy: SEXUAL INTIMACY.
Sex is like a gift from God. It’s like a reward, a reward for doing the work of building intimacy at the first 5 levels. If you cultivate intimacy that is mutually rewarding at the first 5 levels, then sex is fulfilling, meaningful and beautiful. Sex should be the expression of two people who enjoy the intimacy of being together socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. This is why sex is called “knowing one another” in the Old Testament. Sex is the coming together in “Oneness.”
Yet, most couples first have sex at what level?
Yes, usually at the EMOTIONAL level. This level is so exciting, titillating, arousing and, it can be, quite sensual. It’s not hard to wonder why sex is often engaged in at this level. Strangely, sex can just as easily ruin a relationship at this level. Sex can bring such confusion, guilt, or manipulation, and even make one partner feel used. It can become so casual and usual that the couple never climbs any further up the mountain of intimacy.This is how a relationship is hurt before the wedding
In marriage a healthy couple still starts at the bottom of the mountain, and climbs every day together. Most wives do not want to have sex with their husband if there has been no intellectual or spiritual interaction all day. Men, you can’t take a helicopter to the top of the mountain and expect sex if you have been a boor all evening, and have not helped with the kids, the chores, or cleaning the kitchen. Come on, man!
Pass this on to your children or grandchildren. Sex is getting cheapened today by porn and the casualness of it in our culture. In God’s worldview, sex is a reward for building intimacy. Go build it. Then enjoy it . . . in the will of God.