Dr. Meredith Grey in the ABC sitcom, “Grey’s Anatomy,” says after a failed attempt in relationships, “Intimacy is a four syllable word for here’s my heart and soul; please grind them into hamburger, and enjoy.” It’s both desired, and feared. Difficult to live with and impossible to live without. Intimacy is not something that can be easily defined. Early in life we are sold on this myth of perfect relationships. We are given an image of marriage as a fairy tale or friendships that never have conflict. Intimacy is the bridge that links passion and commitment.
The biblical book Song of Solomon is a book of intimacy. The woman says to her lover, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, in a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Solomon 8: 6 – 7). A young warrior, a beautiful princess when join together in intimacy they confront death. Love is as strong as death. Could it be possible that the love between two people is a defiant act against death? Love is a challenge to death. In Hebrew, the phrase “a raging flame” can also be understood as “a flame of Yahweh himself.” Passion and intimacy are God’s idea. Intimacy starts with God.
Intimacy is about strength. Intimacy is the offer of our strength to the person we love. To offer our strength to the person we are passionate about means that we are willing to go to battle for her. It means that she is ready to stand up for her man. To offer a friend our strength is to reassure them we are with them when they struggle. Offering our strength to another person is risky. We take the risk of self-disclosure. In order to know your strength and have it to offer, we must be aware of our weaknesses. It is allowing our partner to know our fears and our dreams and our weaknesses. Revealing our weaknesses is a humbling experience and one that many are not willing to take.
A lot of people today want love without the risk, passion without commitment, and intimacy without demonstrating strength. Intimacy is a journey. It will be a destination you will never reach. It puts the adventure into marriage and relationships.
How do you define intimacy? What does intimacy look like?