“We can live without sex, but we cannot live without intimacy.” – Julie Rodgers
The problem with being single in a Christian world is that the church and Christians in general have done a poor job of separating sex and intimacy. We wrongly believe that intimacy can only truly be found in a marriage relationship. What does that say to those in the Christian community who are single or feel called to celibacy? In short, and bluntly put, it tells them they aren’t worthy or are incapable of experiencing true intimacy. But we were designed for intimacy, for deep bonds of love and care experienced in and through a community of fellow believers.
We were designed for intimacy, for deep bonds of love and care experienced in and through a community of fellow believers.
The church has mistakenly set up marriage as the pinnacle of not just relationships, but life itself. The danger of doing so is that it communicates to those who are unmarried that they are living incomplete or even empty lives and that they won’t be truly complete or fulfilled until they find a spouse. But marriage, and sex for that matter, was never intended to be the end all, be all. Intimacy was.
When we look back to the beginning, back to the garden, when God and mankind lived in perfect harmony, we see that intimacy, walking closely in relationship with God and others, was the goal. Not marriage. Not sex. But genuine, life-giving, sacrificial relationships. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost sight of God’s goal for human relationships and put more emphasis on marriage and sex.
Marriage, and sex for that matter, was never intended to be the end all, be all. Intimacy was.
We live in a culture that views singleness as a disease, thinking that those who are unmarried are to be pitied. The fact of the matter though is that not all of us are called to marriage, there are many who out of necessity, out of conviction, out of circumstance are called to celibate lifestyles. Celibacy should not be a lack of intimacy, the same invitation that God extends to those in marriage relationships is extended to those in singleness as well. But we aren’t just called to live intimately with God, although that is crucial and foundational for any healthy life, instead the invitation for intimacy extends to the relationships around us as well.
The church is called to be a family, called to intimacy. Being a family means being together through one another’s different phases of life. That means couples and singles should regularly do life together. Share meals weekly. Play games. Laugh together. Cry together. Intimacy is created not in sexual encounters, but when worlds are joined together. It is created when we invite others to be a part of our story.
Intimacy is created not in sexual encounters, but when worlds are joined together. It is created when we invite others to be a part of our story.
In a world where marriage is seen as the finish-line in a race for intimacy, what would it look like for the church to be the source of that intimacy instead? Intimacy isn’t something for a select few, but a part of our design, a part of who God made us to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to commit to a life of intimacy, single or not, where I invite others into my story, my world, and where I enter into others stories as well.