Having healthy relationships with other people can be one of the most rewarding things in your life, next to having an intimate on-going relationship with God. Close healthy relationships with people is a critical key to a lifestyle of freedom.
Marnie Ferree, a renowned pioneer in the realm of female sex addiction, gives interesting insight when she says that “Sexual addiction is actually not about sex at all. It’s an intimacy disorder—using sexual activity or a relationship in a desperate search for connection, affirmation or love.”[i]
Most people who live in our current culture, whether or not they have been sex addicts, have a somewhat skewed view of authentic intimacy and what true, healthy relationships are meant to be. Therefore, unlocking the mystery of healthy relationship is critical for everyone, addict and non-addict alike, in the goal of living a spiritually healthy lifestyle.
The first thing many think of when the word intimacy is mentioned is sex. Sex is a very personal and intimate act that God designed for pleasure and procreation within marriage. Sex is an intimate act. But sex alone is not intimacy. Sex alone, even in marriage, will not completely fulfill the need for intimacy.
As I wrote previously in this “keys” series, God created us with an inner void that can only be filled through an intimate relationship with Him. He also created us with a need for human intimacy. Both of these needs must be fulfilled in a healthy way or we will experience great lack in our lives. It is an unending cycle to continue to try to meet our needs through unhealthy behaviors. Fulfillment will never come.
[tweet_dis]Levels of friendship and intimacy can be experienced by those who are married as well as those who are single[/tweet_dis]. Granted, there is an intimacy that can only be experienced within the marriage covenant. However, there are deep and satisfying levels of intimacy that can be experienced by unmarried people as well.
In the Bible we are told that God has designed us to experience intimacy. As a single woman, I have a depth of relationship with many of my friends. I have close and satisfying relationships.
Some levels of relationships are shown in the following diagram:
In looking at intimacy and the need for healthy, close relationships, look back to the creation of man. God created the heavens and the earth and all living things (Genesis 1 and 2), and he also created man in His image. Everything had been created perfectly and proclaimed to be “good”. At this point there was no sin. Adam had a perfect and intimate relationship with God. There were no hindrances or barriers between God and Adam. Their relationship lacked nothing. Pause a moment to reflect what that must have been like!
In the midst of this perfect relationship, God said to Adam in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God made it clear that man was created, first of all, for a relationship with Him, but also, that there was something more for us.
So the need for intimate relationship with others is not due to a lack in our relationship with God, but it was to be expanded. Relationship with others is to be an overflow of our relationship with God.
Many have taught what Genesis 2:18 says on not being alone, applies exclusively to the marriage relationship. However, that is a limited view of what God is saying. Why? Because the Word of God must always be consistent within itself and its context. And in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, God inspires Paul to say that it is good for some to remain single. He explains that an unmarried person can concentrate more on the things of God rather than the needs of a family. This makes it clear that God does not intend for every person to be married. So, His proclamation to Adam in the garden, that it is not good for man to be alone, was not exclusively referring to marriage. The consistency of the Word of God reveals that there is more to this picture of the human need for relationship than only in marriage.
The need for healthy, committed relationships in our life is confirmed many times in scriptures which teach us about Christians being “the Body of Christ,” with Him being the head of the Body. We are compared to a human body where the individual parts do not all have the same function. We need eyes to see, feet and legs to carry us and hands to do certain things. We are not all one part, but many different parts working together. We need each other just as the human body needs each part (Romans 12).
However, these relationships do not come without effort on our part. In fact, [tweet_dis]close, healthy relationships take perseverance, commitment and hard work![/tweet_dis]
For true relationship to happen on any level one must be willing to be their authentic selves, not hiding behind walls or a mask. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Relationship must also be mutual. It is about each person opening their hearts and lives so they can both come to truly know each other—to know and be known. It also involves each person to be willing to give and receive love, understanding and care.
To read more on the need for connectedness, see the next blog post that will be coming soon!
Action Steps: It is God’s plan that we be connected “vertically” to Him and “horizontally” to others. I would encourage you to read Genesis chapters 1 and 2, 1 Corinthians chapter 7, and Romans chapter 12. These scriptures (referenced above in this blog post) will give you a greater basis for understanding what God desires in our human relationships.
Scripture: Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (NASB)
A Prayer: Dear God, I want to understand more of what you desire for my life concerning relationship with other people. I ask that you would show me your truth of how important relationships are and help me to understand how to practically live this out in my life. Help me to grow in the area of human relationships as I continue to grow in my relationship with You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
(I encourage you to talk to Him in your own words. Share your heart with Him. He loves you and desires to hear what is in your heart and on your mind.)
[i] http://www.bethesdaworkshops.org/ Ferree, Marnie C.