Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Destroying Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage

            Last post, we talked about 7 ways to enhance spiritual intimacy in marriage.  As I noted in that post, true intimacy is multi-faceted, and spiritual intimacy is a key component of a healthy intimate connection with your mate.  Just as there are behaviors that can enhance spiritual intimacy, there are also behaviors that can destroy spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife.  Here are 5 specific behaviors that destroy spiritual intimacy with your mate.

5 Things that Destroy Spiritual Intimacy:
  1. Segregating your life into spiritual and secular.  God created us as holistic beings.  When we forget that and try to compartmentalize our lives, when we leave the Spirit of God out of any aspect, we damage our spiritual relationship with God and our spiritual intimacy with our spouses.  If you forget that the physical always affects the spiritual, you open the door to pornography, materialism, and a host of other outward behaviors that drive a spiritual wedge between you and your mate.
  2. Worshiping the church rather than the living God of the church.  Church is important.  It is the community of God’s people worshiping together, caring for each other, and empowering each other to carry the gospel message to the world.  However, too many churches have fallen into the trap of believing that busyness equals worth.  Because of this, they perpetuate over-crowded calendars full of ministries fueled by a guilt-inducing, institution-centric mentality.  Rather than bringing husbands and wives together spiritually, a frenetic slate of church programs that is gender and age segregated can instead tear apart marriages and families, and all “in the name of God.”  Remember, one of the ways to enhance spiritual intimacy is to find a shared mission and ministry.
  3. Being a “spiritual bully.”  We all like to think that we are right, and that what we believe is unbiasedly scriptural.  But when you dig in your heels and berate or ridicule your mate when his/her spiritual beliefs differ from your own, you have just made the move to being a spiritual bully.  Spiritual bullies would rather win the debate than recognize they just might not know everything.  They typically forget that they didn’t always hold the position they currently are beating up their mates with, and that their position will likely change again.  Please understand that I’m not advocating not knowing why you believe what you believe or not standing up for truth.  But we are all at different places on  our spiritual journeys, and a spiritual bully will absolutely destroy spiritual intimacy with his or her mate.
  4. Not caring for your mate when he or she or spiritually wounded.  We are fallen people living in a fallen world.  Because of this, things happen that hurt us.  Too often, those wounds come from “good Christian folks” who may or may not have good intentions.  Spiritual wounds cut deep and last long.  They shake our faith in others, and sometimes in God.  When your mate is spiritually wounded, failing to acknowledge it and walk with him/her through the pain will leave your mate feeling isolated and create a spiritual distance between you from which you may never recover.
  5. Failing to admit fault or accept responsibility.  There is no doubt that we live in a victim society.  In our culture, everyone wants to blame someone else.  But actions have consequences, and we are called to accountability, both to God and to our spouses.  It is virtually impossible to be spiritually intimate with someone who thinks he/she is never at fault and who wants to blame everyone else (including their mate!) for everything that goes wrong.  Healthy marriage requires a lot of forgiveness, but failure to admit your own part in conflict and problems will destroy spiritual connectedness.
            Certainly other things could be added to this list (please share in the comments section so that others can benefit from your insights).  If we are not intentional about fostering spiritual intimacy with our mates, behaviors will slip in that will destroy spiritual intimacy.  May God bring us closer to him as we grow closer to our mates.

 Marriage Enrichment Weekend
Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn
August 31-September 2, 2012
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