Even though I’ve been a marriage pastor for almost 13 years, my wife and I still struggle in one particular aspect of marital intimacy. I can teach others about this topic all day long but still find myself falling short in this part of our marriage. We both love Jesus and each spend time reading the Word and praying, but we don’t make the time to share what God is teaching us about Himself. 13 years of ministry also tells me we’re not alone in this challenge.
In part one of this series on intimacy I provided a definition of marital intimacy. When a husband and wife are intimate in marriage, it goes far beyond the bedroom (probably what most of us think about when we hear the word intimacy). Rather I said that to be intimate with your spouse means you know them, are fully known by them, and you don’t fear rejection by them. Marriages that enjoy intimacy in this way experience a great gift. You can read more about this definition and why couples struggle attaining this level of intimacy in part one.
In part two I’m sharing the first of four different aspects of marital intimacy and why each is necessary in marriage. Each aspect can be its own chapter or book, so in every post of this series I’ll merely provide an overview. Originally this was going to be a two-part series, but I decided to dedicate a separate post to each of the four aspects of intimacy. Perhaps I see a sequel to Ready or Knot? in the future?!?!
Why is Spiritual Intimacy Important?
This one is first on the list, the area where Kristen and I most struggle, and the most foundational of all aspects of marital intimacy. As shared above, Kristen and I are doing well individually, but we don’t make the time to share with each other what we’re learning and how we’re growing. Fortunately we’re aligned in our beliefs and values but our shortcomings in this area affect our intimacy with each other and effectiveness in ministry. I’m grateful for how God is using us, but we desire greater spiritual intimacy.
Why is spiritual intimacy important? As followers of Christ, our thoughts about who God is determine and affect our views of everything else in life.
Are you and your spouse aligned on the most important marriage question you’ll ever answer? The most important marriage question you’ll ever answer is not “Who should I marry?” but “Who is Jesus?”. Do you believe He’s merely a good teacher or good man? Or is He your Lord and Savior?
As C.S. Lewis famously wrote in Mere Christianity, you must make your choice about Jesus. Lewis writes,
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Even more to the point, in John 14:6 John writes, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
You and your spouse must be aligned in what you believe about Jesus. If not, how can you be aligned in your views on money, work, communication, family, and just about everything else?
It’s Not Just What You Believe That Matters
It’s not only about what you believe but also how Jesus affects the way you live and the decisions you make. If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, then your desire should be to honor Him with your life. This should affect the decisions you make and how you pursue each other. If you have different spiritual beliefs than you cannot be spiritually intimate with each other.
- I’d encourage you to check out this new, excellent article from Desiring God. Click here to read Together in Bed, Apart in Soul. In it, the writer acknowledges some of the challenges and suggests a path forward for couples to grow in spiritual intimacy.
- One other resource for you. If you like listening to podcasts, check out the podcast episode How to Study the Bible Together as a Couple by Fierce Marriage (Ryan & Selena Frederick).
Here are a few quick suggestions. None of these are works to earn God’s favor, but rather provide some ways to grow together with your spouse:
- Read the Word together and share what you’re learning (Psalm 1:1-6).
- Pray with and for each other (Colossians 4:2).
- Serve together (Mark 10:44-45).
- Worship and live in community with other followers of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25, Proverbs 13:20).
- Memorize Scripture, journal together, share your faith together, and so much more.
Again, this post is simply meant to be an overview of spiritual intimacy. I hope it sparks some conversation and leaves you wanting more.
In Matthew 7:24-27, towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His listeners (and now readers) a choice. He challenges us to either build your home on rock or sand. Wherever your home is built, you will face challenges. How and where you build your home determines whether your house will stand strong or fall apart.
If we go back to our definition of intimacy (to know and be known without fear of rejection) and specifically apply it to the area of spiritual intimacy:
- Do you know how your spouse is doing spiritually? Do you know what they believe and if their beliefs impact their life? And do you know what they’re reading in the Word and what they’re praying for and about?
- Are you known by your spouse spiritually? Do you allow them to know what you’re learning in the Word? And do they know how to pray with and for you?
- Do you and your spouse live in fear of spiritual rejection by the other? Is it a safe place to confess and share? Again, I recommend the article on Desiring God referenced above about spiritual intimacy.
Congrats to Sarah for being the winner of the free marriage book from part one in this series!
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being absent/non-existent and 10 being very satisfied and fulfilling spiritually, how would you rate your personal intimacy with Christ.
On that same scale, how would you rate spiritual intimacy with your spouse? Can you share without pride or without a fear or rejection? Do you feel known spiritually and do you know your spouse spiritually?
How do you want to grow and cultivate a love for God’s Word together?
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