“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man….. The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” – Genesis 2:7, 22, 25
After God brought together the first man and woman, we find a beautiful expression of pure intimacy: “They were both naked and they felt no shame.” In other words, they had nothing to hide physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. They were “not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence” (Genesis 2:25, Amplified Bible).
Although my husband Dave and I have been married for 28 years, we’ve found that this kind of transparency is a lofty calling. Living in an impure world where we’re judged by our bodies and/or beauty can create insecurity. And many of us also bring losses from our past into marriage.
If that weren’t enough, even deeper questions beckon: Is it safe to be completely vulnerable with another person? Can I really trust again after I’ve been deeply hurt? How can I achieve intimacy with someone who is so fundamentally unlike me?
Unique, Yet Unashamed
In the Biblical model, uniqueness isn’t an obstacle to intimacy. In fact, a look at the Hebrew words used in the creation account reveals much about the unique gifts Adam and Eve brought to intimacy.
- His gift. “The Lord God formed [yatsar] man …” (Genesis 2:7). The word yatsar means forming by plan or design, like a potter. Just as a pot usually has a singular purpose, God gifted man with a purity of focus that helps him initiate, protect and provide – physically, spiritually and sexually.
- Her gift. “Then the Lord God made [banah] a woman from the rib …” (Genesis 2:22). Banah was sometimes used to describe constructing a palace. God fashioned woman with an emotional, physical, sexual and relational complexity that allows her to nurture deep connections.
The good news for us is that intimacy thrives on differences! By refusing to hide from each other and God, and through honoring our differences, we bring each other exceptional gifts.
Imperfect, Yet Intimate
Although Adam and Eve lived in the perfect surroundings of the garden, they were still human.
Their walk together would soon be ambushed by sin and heartbreak. Yet afterwards, we see God ministering to them together, covering them with animal skins after they were cast out of the garden (Genesis 3:21).
And, after the tragedy of Cain and Abel, God granted them another son through their union (Genesis 4:25). Biblical intimacy can be a haven in times of darkness, pointing us to God’s redemption.
Just as God extended mercy to Adam and Eve in their personal tragedy, intimacy allows us to reflect to each other a godly acceptance in our most sensitive questions:
My mate wonders…
I can reflect God’s grace…
|Are my accomplishments meaningful?||“…your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58|
|Do my struggles with anxiety and/or depression mean that I’m bad?||“…he will quiet you with his love….” Zephaniah 3:17|
|Does anyone understand how I feel?||“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses …” Hebrews 4:15|
|How should I view this health challenge?||“My health may fail …, but God remains the strength of my heart.” Psalm 73:26 (NLT)|
Sexuality That is a Sanctuary
The Hebrew word “yada” points us to another dimension of intimacy. The Bible tells us that Adam knew (yada) Eve (Genesis 4:1 KJV). Exodus 33:13 says, “… teach me your ways, so that I may know (yada) you and continue to find favor with you.” Our sexual intimacy with each other reflects an even greater drive – to understand our acceptance by God himself.
In a world that flashes impossible and impure standards before us day and night, accepting each other isn’t optional – it’s our lifeline. And it takes moving past our fears:
- He won’t accept me if he knows this about me. (Read Romans 15:7.)
- She won’t forgive me if she knows that about me. (Read Psalm 51:6.)
- He can’t love this part of me. (Read 1 Corinthians 13:6.)
- She won’t respect this part of me. (Read Romans 12:10.)
By forging an intimacy that embraces our differences and imperfections, Dave and I have developed a deeper confidence in each other and in God. But we’ve also learned the importance of refusing a false or counterfeit intimacy.
Why is this fruit of false intimacy so enticing?