Sex, Intimacy, & Healthy Boundaries

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be having a conversation we’ve named, “The Fireplace.” Here’s the idea: Fire in your fireplace gives light, heat, and it can even cook your food. But when the fire leaves the fireplace, you’re going to get burned. It may not burn down the house completely, but it’s going to cause damage.

Sex is like fire – when boundaries are removed, there is great potential for it to cause harm and damage.

The Fireplace

What We’re Searching For: Intimacy
Sex is not intimacy. But many people treat sex as a shortcut to intimacy. The trouble is… there’s no shortcut to intimacy.

“Intimacy is being fully known with no fear of rejection.”

Can you image that? To be fully known (imagine your entire internet/social media history being published for the world to see) and still having NO FEAR of rejection.

Naked. Fully known.

And fully loved.

That’s what we’re searching for! Sex acts out with our bodies the intimacy that our hearts desire. But sex isn’t a shortcut to intimacy; it’s supposed to be a phsyical reflection of it!

What’s the Bible Teach About Sex?
The Bible teaches a lot about sex, actually. But we’ll focus on just two aspects for now.

“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Genesis 2:18

It wasn’t good for Adam (remember, at this point he was the only human) to be alone. As human beings, we were made for intimacy! God made Eve/woman as a helper, to fulfill what it means to be human. “Helper” isn’t a condescending word… instead, it means has the same meaning as “reinforcements” who are called in to fulfill a shared mission. We were made for intimacy.

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”” Matthew 19:5–6 (quoting Gen. 2:24)

Jesus quotes 2:24 and then explains that sex is meant for marriage. If sex is fire, Marriage is the fireplace. The two are “joined together” (literally means “glued together”).

Sex is more than an act that feels good. It is a union. You are becoming “one flesh” with another person. There is nothing more physically intimate than sex… because it’s meant to be a physical reflection of the full intimacy you experience with your husband or wife.

Phases of Unhealthy Relationships

  1. Guess Who? In this phase, you wonder, “What kind of person would the person I have a crush on want to be with.” There’s someone you like, and you want to figure out how to make them like you too.
  2. Masquerade. Now that you think you know who they want to be with… you become as much like that person as possible.
  3. Getting Serious. You’re together and say that you’re “in love.” But that’s because you ignore the things that bother you about each other since it’s jsut easier that way. You try to become intimate with each other. But the problem is, you aren’t really yourself to begin with (see Phase Two).
  4. Cinderella Syndrome. Eventually, you get too tired of acting like someone else and the real you starts to emerge. You were right: the other person doesn’t really want to be with who you really are (especially since you manipulated them into a relationship with you to begin with!).

If this unhealthy cycle never breaks, you find yourself repeating it over and over again and wondering why you’re so unlucky in relationships.

Maybe it’s because you don’t give people a chance to know the “real” you. Maybe it’s because you don’t really like the real you! Maybe you don’t even know who the real you is anymore because you’ve been masquerading for so long? Whatever the reason… if you don’t embrace who God made you to become, love and intimacy will be elusive.

There’s Always Room for Grace
I know some of you out there feel like you’ve already blown it. You’ve gone farther than you know you should’ve and you’ve gotten burned. Maybe you feel guilty and ashamed.

The Gospel is a message of grace and hope. Wherever there is sin to confess, there is room for repentance and grace!

The intimacy we desire is found first through the Gospel. Romans 5:8 teaches, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners (fully known), Christ died for us (fully accepted).”

Questions to Consider Before Entering Relationships

  1. What are you looking for in a relationship? Are you looking for the other person to fulfill you? Are you looking to fit in, because you think you’re supposed to be in a relationship? Are you just looking for fun?
  2. Will this person help you grow in intimacy with God? If you’re a Christian, this question must be asked, and answered honestly. Will this person draw you closer or farther away from Christ? If he/she isn’t a Christian, and if they aren’t actively pursuing Christ, then be aware of the decision you’re making.
  3. Would a relationship with you draw the other person closer to God? This is the other side of the question above. Would a godly guy/girl continue to grow in their relationships with Christ because of you?
  4. Is it important that the other person loves Jesus more than they could ever care about you? Make sure you both keep Christ first. I often tell my wife, “I love you second.” (I love God first, her second, our kids third… that’s important). My wife is great, but she’d make a terrible god. Keep God first.

What’s the Big Idea?
Healthy Boundaries promote true intimacy. Being fully known and fully accepted begins with the gospel and develops between two people over a long period of time. Sex is a physical act that reflects that intimacy, but it’s not a shortcut.

Finding the intimacy that you long for begins by knowing what you desire and how to attain it. Both of those answers begin with God.

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