Nov 09, 2014
If someone were to ask you to define the word intimacy, how would you define it? I think for most of us, we would probably think of intimacy as something that happens between a husband and a wife. In essence we would equate intimacy to a sexual act. If we were to take the sexual aspect of intimacy out of the definition of intimacy, then what would we have? Here are some definitions of intimacy:
- close familiarity or friendship; closeness
- a private cozy atmosphere
- closeness of observation or knowledge of a subject
Several weeks ago, I began to think of some examples of non-sexual intimate expressions within my marriage. Five such examples that I thought defined intimacy very well were honesty, vulnerability, trust, listening and caring. Honesty within my marriage contributes to our overall intimacy because it shows my wife I have nothing to hide from her. Vulnerability is a necessary component because it is an invitation to share the fears and insecurities that plague me from to time without having to worry about rejection. Trust is absolutely needed to build intimacy with my wife. If she cannot trust my words and actions, how can she feel safe with me? Listening is a part of creating intimacy because my wife wants to know that I hear her not only with my ears, but also with my heart. And of course, caring helps to lay a foundation for our intimacy. My wife wants to know that I care for her physically, emotionally and spiritually. All of these expressions are necessary for a strong foundation of intimacy within my marriage.
But the purpose of this writing is not to ask you if you have healthy intimacy within your marriage. Rather, it is to ask you if you think it is possible to have an intimate and close relationship with another man based on the criteria described above? You may be surprised to know that I believe the answer is yes and in fact, I believe that it is necessary. You see, as men, we need to have intimate relationships with other men in our daily pursuit of purity and wholeness that are based on trust and a brotherly (or Christ-like) concern for one another, thereby leading to a consistent lifestyle of victory. We all need to have a brother that we can be honest with. We all need a brother that won't run away when vulnerability is expressed. We all need a brother that we can trust to walk this journey with and not flee at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience. We all need a brother that will listen to us because he understands that life isn't always about fixing the problem. And finally, we all need a brother that we know cares about us. Not in a casual "How are you today?" comment, but the kind of care that takes our hand and lifts us up when we fall down, not just once, but repeatedly. I believe that when we have that kind of close relationship with a man, either a friend or a brother, then we have a level of intimacy that is healthy and life giving.
Many of us take the time to invest in our marriage but the challenge is for us to also invest in God-honoring relationships with other men. Developing these relationships will create a level of intimacy (comprised of honesty, vulnerability, trust, listening and caring) that is spoken about when we read the following:
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."
Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
"And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself."
1 Samuel 18:3 (NIV)