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Jan 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 9, 2022



So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
[Read Genesis 2:18-25]

Intro: Awhile back I read The Healing Power of Emotion

An anthology of essays written by specialists in the fields of neuroscience and applied psychology
– afterward, I read several books by the authors of those essays
• one author was Sue Johnson, who pioneered Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
◦ in Hold Me Tight, she explains research behind EFT and provides lots of examples of how it works in therapy
• it turned out that Johnson has a Christian friend, Ken Sanderfer, who is also a therapist
◦ he suggested that she write a book specifically for Christians
Sue Johnson, “This made perfect sense. As Kenny and I placed the science of EFT alongside the ancient wisdom of the Christian Scriptures, clear and consistent parallels between EFT and biblical teachings about divine love and God’s teachings about human love leapt out at us.”
– I read that book too – Created for Connection
• and that brings me to the point of why I have told you all of this
◦ I am “borrowing” the title of her book for my next few
Ken Sanderfer, “I don’t believe the Bible was ever intended to be a marriage book, but it is a beautiful love story—a story about a God in pursuit of His bride. We are the bride of Christ. God created us to have a relationship with Him and with others. . . . Our relationship with God is essential to how we connect with others, and our view of God is influenced by our lifelong interactions with others.”
• we will consider our close relationships in the light of the Scriptures
◦ we’ll work our way through our various friendships towards intimate closeness with God

Today I’ll share a few random thoughts about intimacy

In story of Adam and Eve we’re given an ideal model of intimacy
– the man holds fast to his wife and they become one flesh
• Hebrew word for hold fast means also cling to, stick to, and joined
◦ a bond is formed that holds them together

In one of my factory jobs, a pro told me that in using glue the strongest bond is when glue is applied to the two surfaces that are to be joined. If the glue penetrates the surface, the two parts adhere so well that it is like they have become one piece instead of two.

• later on, in the law of Moses, provision is made for breaking that intimate marriage bond
◦ Jesus had an explanation for that stipulation
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘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.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mt. 19:3-8)
– every other living organism, God made using soil
• not the woman–she was made of existing human stuff
◦ so the man and woman share a shared existence and a unique closeness
◦ they are capable of an intimacy unknown in any other relationship
• one of Christianity’s earliest and most powerful thinkers was Origen
◦ he saw an analogy in Eve coming from Adam’s wounded side
Origen, “From the wound in Christ’s side has come forth the Church, and he has made her his Bride.”
◦ through the cross, we are remade, and from same stuff as Jesus

Although marital intimacy is unique, we can find closeness in other relationships

But what does that mean?
– are you close to a particular relative? an aunt? a cousin? a sibling?
• do you have a close friend? Or a closest friend?
• how did that closeness develop?
◦ perhaps it has a lot of the many experiences you have shared together
– some therapists talk about “building” an intimate relationship
• but for some of us, it has more to do with removing obstacles, including:
◦ if we never experienced closeness as an infant or child
◦ other past experiences of betrayal and broken trust
◦ if we’ve attempted closeness with someone who was incapable of it
(a narcissist can fake intimacy, but cannot sustain or live it)
◦ if we are insecure in relationships or never feel safe

Intimacy is always a gift – one that some people are unable or unwilling to give
– it is the gift of oneself – a sharing of who I am with another person
• in this sharing, all the parts of oneself come into play
• this doesn’t mean we share everything
◦ but there is not much that we leave hidden or covered
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed
– closeness is the natural trajectory of redeemed human relationships
• that doesn’t mean it is easy
◦ and ir doesn’t mean we find it automatically among “Christians”
◦ we’re all human and we all struggle
• but as a new creation, we live in God’s love
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us . . . . We love because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:16-19)
◦ God shares with us his own loving energy
◦ so we are to be merciful because he is merciful, we are to forgive because he forgave us
we are to abide in his love

Closeness with another person requires us to face our brokenness

There are two things I want to say about this
– the first, is that we will inevitably reveal our brokenness
• if you cannot apologize for the wrong you do,
◦ you cannot maintain a close relationship — not even with your child
◦ the same is true if you cannot forgive
• it can be humiliating, in can be painful, it can seem impossible,
◦ but those broken parts will ruin a relationship if not acknowledged
◦ relationships can be repaired, and strongest tool for repairing them is forgiveness
So we must be prepared to both seek and give forgiveness
– the second thing, is that we cannot use our brokenness as an excuse
• it is an explanation for our struggle with particular issues,
◦ but once we’re aware of them,
◦ we have a responsibility to resolve and correct them
• some continue to fail, hurt, use, and abuse those who love them
◦ and then make excuse for their behavior rather than change it
◦ we need to be aware of the actions that integrate and of those that alienate

Some authors talk about the dance of intimacy

Here are two people: person ‘A’ and person ‘B’
– ‘A’ says or does something and it immediately affects ‘B’
• ‘B’ responds, or reacts, or does nothing–neither responds nor reacts
• that affects ‘A’, who then responds to ‘B’, etcetera
– in their interaction, they have an ongoing impact on each other
• awareness of that impact may be as important as the content of their communication

We need to learn the steps of this dance
– they will be slightly different with one person than with another
• we must know each dance partner well enough to perfect those steps
– dance steps that are fairly common include:
• empathy – we’ve talked a lot about this
• vulnerability – we have to be able to take what we hear
• humility – our imperfections
• emotional control – not “tight” control, but the ability to calm ourselves

It turns out that sharing our emotions is a critical factor in developing intimacy
Dan Hughes, “Through the communication of emotions, we create an opening that makes our own inner life clear to the other person. [Emotional] communication–when expressed in a reactive manner–often leads to attacks on both the other and the self. Similarly, [emotional] communication–when continuously avoided–often leads to increased isolation and loneliness rather than emotional intimacy.”
“. . . when we are able to successfully share our emotional experience with a trusted other, we are better able to regulate these emotions because the other is not being experienced as if he or she had been there with us in the event.”
– who we are is revealed when read by others in the story of our lives
• the experience and expression of emotions is central to our story
• they are the inner energy of the plot – of our decisions, actions, or inaction
◦ they reveal important elements of the story
◦ they shape our story, and they have been shaped by our story
– sharing our emotions helps others to read and know our story

Conclusion: I think most will agree,

Christianity in the United States is currently in a crisis state
– it is seriously fractured and needs a time of healing and repair
• Maximus the Theologian: was a seventh century Christian monk
He said, “Only love overcomes the fragmentation of human nature.”

Henri Nouwen, after enjoying a flourishing career in the U.S. returned to a divided church in Holland
Nouwen, “Who is to blame? I often wonder where I would be today if I had been part of the great turmoil of the Dutch Church during the last decades. Blaming is not the issue. What is important is to find the anger-free parts in people’s hearts where God’s love can be heard and received.”
We need to hear this! “Blaming is not the issue”
And, we need to find in our hearts “the anger-free parts”
so that we can experience the loving bond of Christian community
and then share it with the world

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