Each of us has, at the core of our being, the desire to be fully known and fully loved. Emotional, spiritual and physical intimacies are all essential to being human–and we naturally desire them. But physical intimacy is not the end-all, be-all of our human needs and in fact, its over-emphasis can sometimes hinder development in other important areas. Physical intimacy within the boundaries of marriage between one man and one woman allows the best possible environment for this and other forms of intimacy to flourish–and can make greater intimacy possible in other relationships, too.
To place all of our expectations for intimacy and fulfillment on sex alone, however, is to set ourselves up for great disappointment. That’s asking sex for far more than it is designed to deliver! Sex is to be valued, treasured and enjoyed in the proper context…but sex is not the ultimate good. It’s not the only, or even the greatest, expression of love. Modern societal norms may suggest that we cannot possibly live without sex, but that is not true. Many men and women have and do. But it is nearly impossible for a man or woman to thrive without the love and affection of family or friends. In our hyper-sexualized world, we might think that a deeply meaningful hug between friends or a loving arm around our shoulder is overshadowed by the greater physical intensity of sex–but while sexual contact may involve a more powerful physiological response, it is not necessarily more deeply intimate or fulfilling.
Rather than viewing sexual and romantic love as the high point on a scale where friendship represents the low-water mark, the Christian sexual ethic invites us to pursue human love in its many different forms, governed by different boundaries — and in sacrificial, not self-seeking ways.
Our human desire to be fully known and fully loved is very real. It can feel overwhelming at times. But whether or not we ever marry, ever experience sex, or ever have children, it is possible for each of us to be loved in that way by God. Tim Keller writes, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self- righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
Psalm 119:9-11 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
“All of us want to be known and loved. We spend a ton of energy trying to get the right image, so that people will want to be with us — especially so that we can find the ‘right person’ for a romantic relationship that will finally fulfill us. But secretly, most of us fear that if we really were known — like the truly real you or me — we wouldn’t be enough. And when this or that relationship doesn’t fulfill us, we just move on.” ~ Zac, Love Episode
“Saying yes to Jesus means saying no to sexual freedom. But it does not mean missing out. At its best, marriage is meant to to leave us wanting more: it is a “gateway drug” to a far more fulfilling relationship with God.” ~Rebecca McLaughlin