Is Romance the Only Way to Relational Intimacy?
By Kelly-Jayne McGlynn, Crosswalk.com
Editor’s Note: Crosswalk's Singles Advice is an advice column for singles featuring an anonymous question from a Crosswalk.com reader with a thoughtful, biblical reply from one of our single editors.
Hello. I wanted to know if you had any advice for someone like me. I am not in a relationship and feel like I’m missing out on something important. I’m fine for the most part about being single, at least for now. I have a good job, have relationships with my family, and a great church home. But everything makes it seem like without a relationship, you are missing out on something amazing, and you’ll never be anybody without one. I know this isn’t true to God. But I sometimes feel very lonely, even with my relationship with God and with so much else going well in my life. Any thoughts?
Hi! Thanks so much for asking this question. It’s great to hear that you can recognize the blessings that God has given you, even without a relationship at this time! Singleness can certainly be a strange, lonely, disconcerting time. And I totally agree, from movies to music to commercials, even to church culture sometimes, we really can be inundated with the ideas that life doesn’t really start until we have found “the one,” and that the only way to intimacy is to be in a physical relationship with someone.
However, thanks to the Bible, we can be certain that this is a myth! God created us for intimacy. But that intimacy can be found in close relationships without romance or sex.
When it comes down to it, everything in our life could be going perfectly—but it won’t really feel like that matters at all unless we have someone to share it with, and to share it intimately. It sounds like that may be what you are feeling that you are missing. But thanks be to God that we are not bound by our relationship status alone to feel intimacy—that it can be obtained by anyone at any time with a close relationship with God!
I would encourage you to look at the life of King David, and how he cultivated intimacy with both God and man.
Intimacy with God Happens When We Create a Space for Him
“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.” Psalm 139:1-3
David had an insanely intimate relationship with God. He felt safe telling God his deepest fears, most precious victories, and even knew that yelling at God in anger wouldn’t cause God to leave him. He was confident in God’s love for him to the point of making himself totally vulnerable before Saul, who was out to kill him (1 Samuel 24). And when he praised God, he was so secure that he danced before him and others without shame (2 Samuel 6:14).
But what allowed David to be so intimate with God? It may have been due to work of the Spirit, as David was a man after God’s own heart. But I think we can also see through the 70+ psalms that David wrote to God—they spent a lot of quality time together. God was David’s go-to when it came to sharing his heart and experiences. He created space for God in his life.
Bema Discipleship has an amazing podcast about how to cultivate intimacy with God through creating space for him. They discuss spiritual disciplines that allow for God’s presence to permeate through even the most mundane tasks of life. Of course, reading your Bible and praying every day are integral to having a close walk with God. But some of my other favorite disciplines that they talk about that have been most effective for me are: journaling my prayers, choosing beautiful places to be still before God for hours at a time, practicing generosity, praying at different points throughout the day to see that God is always with me, and memorizing scripture to fight negative thoughts.
There are so many ways, though, that you can choose to cultivate that intimacy. If you love art, see if you can create art that expresses to God how you feel about him, or go on a “date” to an art museum with just you and him. If you’re an athlete, maybe you can listen to sermons/podcasts while you train or use that time to listen to the Word and memorize chapters at a time. It does take creativity, but God is so happy to fill the space that we make for him.
Intimacy with People Happens When We Share our True Selves and Share the Same Goals
We can also look to David as an example for how to have intimate friendships. He formed a close bond with his enemy’s son of all people, a man named Jonathan. Their relationship was so close that the Bible tells us they “became one in spirit” (1 Samuel 18:1). That sounds like a super BFF to me! And a demonstration of an intimacy that doesn’t have to come from a romantic relationship.
How were the able to form such a close bond? I think several factors went into it.
They honored eachother. 1 Samuel 18:4 tells us that Jonathan took off his robe, his tunic, and even his sword, bow, and belt and gave it to David. A strange gift in our eyes, maybe, but to their culture this was seen as one of the highest honors. Jonathan was acknowledging David’s greatness and communicating his selfless love. They make a covenant with eachother, which demonstrates David’s allegiance to Jonathan as well.
They helped eachother spiritually. In 1 Samuel 23:15-18, we see a special moment in their friendship. David found out that Saul was after his life yet again and was coming for him. He was afraid, and shared his authentic self with Jonathan. In response to David’s fear, Jonathan “helped him find strength in God.” Instead of Jonathan boosting David’s ego, or making him feel bad about being afraid, Jonathan met David’s vulnerability with spiritual wisdom and love. It is clear that God was what they based their friendship on, and that commonality was what gave them such a deep bond.
- They went through hardship together. Nothing like helping your best friend flee from your father who wants to kill him to bond you for life. 1 Samuel 20 gives us a look at a how Jonathan and David scheme together about how to keep David safe from Saul. Jonathan is willing to do whatever David needs him to. Being there for eachother in their darkest times clearly helped forge one of the closest relationships in the Bible.
If that isn’t enough to convince you that you don’t need a romantic relationship to experience intimacy, look at David’s words when he is grieving over the death of his great friend:
“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).
Even though David had had 3 wives by this point, he still claims that Jonathan was his closest relationship, even above them. That gives me so much hope and confidence knowing that God can forge intimacy for me in any relationship that I choose to honor, be there for, and base on God alone. I hope this empowers you to go after intimacy with God and the people in your life, and in this way, truly experience life to the full!
Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is the Family Editor for Crosswalk.com. She loves being able to combine her love for God with her love of writing, and highly enjoys being at a job where the debate over the Oxford Comma actually matters.
Disclaimer: any single editor replying to reader questions through this advice column is a Christian seeking God's direction through his Word. We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. As we explore issues with you, we will seek God's guidance through prayer and the Bible.
Have a question? If you have a question about anything related to living the single life, please email [email protected] (selected questions will be addressed anonymously). While we cannot answer every question, we hope you'll find encouragement in this column.
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