The scene is familiar to many of us singles: sitting in church on a Sunday, hearing more about the wonderful gift of marriage and the intimate connection it offers. It’s easy to feel deprived or lesser than, like we’re waiting for the day God will finally give us a taste of that intimacy we see married couples experience. We long for that intimacy, we hunger for it–yet it can seem so desperately out of reach.
Why do we long for intimacy as singles? Does God want us to be forever frustrated, perpetually unfulfilled? If not, where does that leave us, and what do we do with this desire for intimacy?
It’s important that we recognize the desire for intimacy is universal. That means everybody wants it, whether you’re to be married or remain single. It’s a desire based in relational wholeness: a need to be known by God and by others, deeply and wholly. God designed us for relationship; in fact, God-centered relationships are one of the ways we can experience Jesus! God commands us to be in community because He knows community is how we can all experience intimacy.
What is intimacy, then? How do we define the type of intimacy God wants us to experience in community as singles? First, we must recognize that intimacy is much more than just sexuality. Our concept of intimacy, as Christians, must come from the word eros. Eros is all about passion, a love for life, appreciation of beauty, and erotic desire. All of these were one at the beginning of creation but got separated at the Fall, and that’s where lust entered the picture.
This is good news! It means our desire for intimacy is not a bad desire, nor is it meant to go unfulfilled if you’re single. Being part of a God-centered community and having a few close friendships will allow you to experience intimacy even outside of marriage.
Find people you can trust to share your heart with, and allow them to know you deeply. These people should be people of substance, who talk about the impact they want to have on the Kingdom, are givers, are walking in integrity, and will hold you accountable. Engage in communities where you can express your God-given gifts! Maybe you have a gift of hospitality or serving. You could engage in this by hosting dinner parties or other gatherings or making your home a safe place for people to come in and talk about what’s on their hearts. If you have an administrative gift, you could help plan community events.
Singleness is not a deficit or just a time of preparation for marriage; rather, it is something to be celebrated! 1 Corinthians 7 reminds us that while a married man or woman is devoted primarily to the affairs of their spouse, a single person can be fully devoted to the Lord. Be aware of loneliness that could drive you toward false intimacy, and combat it by engaging in God-centered community and relationships. Lean into these opportunities when you’re single–not only will they allow you to experience intimacy, but you’ll bless others with that intimacy as well.
Question: As a single, can you honor your desire for intimacy? What are the ways you nurture the need for intimacy in your life?