2 Obstacles to Intimacy
There seems to be two major obstacles to these close, intimate relationships nowadays. The fear of vulnerability, and a hyper-fixation on sexuality.
Almost everyone, it seems, is afraid of vulnerability. We build up a perfect, Instagram-able image of ourselves to show people, and we worry that they will see past this veneer to the messy human underneath. We worry, deep down, that the real us is unlovable. So we cover it up.
The beauty of the Gospel is to remind us that we are never unlovable. God sent His Son to rescue us even when we were at our most messy. Indeed, even while Jesus was dying on the cross, He prayed that the Father would forgive the ones crucifying Him (Luke 23:24). He cares for us. He cares for you. And that means we don’t have to put up a good image to come before Christ, or to have a deep, intimate relationship with Him.
It can feel like a big ask, to love our friends and family the way Jesus loves us. But we are called to live in community and rely on each other. It won’t be perfect, but it’s certainly worth the risk to seek out deeper, truer relationships with others.
The second obstacle is a modern fixation on romantic love. We’ve reached a point where friendships, and even family, are pushed aside in favor of romantic relationships. And in a culture that teaches any love is good, it’s easy for us to mistake intimate friendships with romantic ones.
In J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the two main characters, Frodo and Sam, have a very deep, intimate relationship. These characters were likely influenced by the bonds that Tolkien himself formed with his fellow soldiers in World War I. Like those soldiers, Frodo and Sam face terrifying situations together, they rely on each other to stay alive, and they accomplish the impossible. Traveling “there and back again,” would build a deep, unbreakable relationship in anyone.
But Frodo and Sam are also physically affectionate. They hold hands and hug – they care for each other. To many modern readers, that, paired with the deep regard they have for each other, means they must be gay. After all, how could two straight characters care for each other this deeply, and not drift into romantic love?
We see a similar argument with the Biblical story of David and Jonathan:
“So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.’ And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself” (1 Samuel 20:16-17).
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (2 Samuel 1:26).
These verses, rather than prove David and Jonathan were in a sinful relationship, shows us a powerful image of Biblical friendship. It is meant to be encouraging for us, especially single folks, that the lack of a romantic relationship does not mean we will never know, or be known, by a true, intimate friend.
Real relationships do not have to be romantic. The lack of a romantic, eros love does not mean that you can never know true intimacy. To insist that it is so hurts those other important relationships, and keeps us focused on just seeking romance. But God intended for us to connect on many more levels than just romantic. After all, Paul said that he wished everyone could remain single (not involved in a romantic relationship) like him (1 Corinth. 7:7). And Paul was certainly not without deep friendships in his life (see all of 1 and 2 Timothy).
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