Monday, November 25, 2013


It's Marriage Monday again here at Hope at Home. We get to hear from Scott Means today, and that is always a treat! You can read more from Scott at his popular marriage blog, Journey To Surrender.

Intimacy is Choosing Relationship Over Rules

It’s a timely question for the upcoming Advent season. Do you know why God sent Jesus to the earth? Go ahead, think of your answer. 

If you said, “To provide the way to forgive us for our sins,” you’d be partly right. But only partly. 

What was the real reason for Jesus? Intimacy.

I see that questioning look on your face, so let me explain. 

The truth is that God, whose very nature is Love, sent Jesus to claim for Himself an eternal bride. He was and is after intimacy with us, both now and for always. Sure, the sin had to be dealt with because it was in the way of intimacy. But intimacy with you and me was the goal.
auremar /

It’s Not About The Rules

There are those who might also have answered my question about why Jesus came to earth this way, “To get us to live right according to God’s laws.”

Surely not, you say? Well, a 2009 Barna study found that 81% of believers think that Christianity is mostly about following the rules. I bet that breaks God’s heart, because what He really wants is our hearts, not our conformance to a set of rules (many of which we have created for ourselves).

Our striving to “shine up” for God, our struggle to do all the right “God stuff” is actually an inhibitor to the one thing God wants from us more than anything else: intimacy with Him. When we view our acceptability to Him as being based on our performance or our adherence to the rules, we can’t approach our Father due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy.

The truth is that Jesus has given us His righteousness, and nothing we can do can make God love us more, or love us less.  We have every right, and God has every desire for us to draw near to him in intimate fellowship. 

God always chooses relationship over rules.

Rules, Intimacy and Marriage

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t this supposed to be a marriage post?” 

Well, it is. It very much is. You see, everything I just described about intimacy with God applies to intimacy in marriage. That shouldn’t surprise you, because God designed marriage to be a direct reflection of his love and desire for us, His bride. 

What blocks intimacy more than anything else? Rules. Marriage rules. 

Now the rules of marriage aren’t the same as the rules we attribute to God, but the effect is the same. When we focus more on our spouse’s performance, behaviors and adherence to our expectations, it puts a ceiling on the level of intimacy we can enjoy.

Here are a few examples of the marriage rules, the kinds of things that cause us to judge our spouses:
  • A wife expects her husband to help out more around the house
  • A couple tries to divide everything 50-50, and both of them are thinking it's 70-30 in their spouse's favor
  • A husband expects his wife to want sex as much as he does.
  • A wife is critical of her husband's lack of handyman skills, and compares him unfavorably to her father.
  • A husband doesn't think his wife keeps things tidy enough for his liking
  • A wife thinks her husband should learn to be more romantic
  • A husband gets offended every time his wife criticizes his driving
God has hard-wired the human soul with a desire for intimacy. Yet, we are so quick to think and act in ways that inhibit a true intimate connection. We are so drawn to the rules.

Grace – An Invitation to Intimacy

Grace is the antidote to our rules oriented thinking. It’s true with God. It’s true in your marriage. Grace is actually an invitation to intimacy. 

So when you choose to focus on the good things in your spouse, when you let go of your rules and expectations and measures of performance, you are inviting your husband or wife to come closer, to draw near. And isn’t that what we all want? 

Instead of focusing on rules, choose to serve each other without the expectation of getting something in return. Love unconditionally. Seek intimacy over perfection. Trust in your spouse's heart. These are the ways God pursues intimacy with us. It works in marriage too.

So are there some rules you need to let go of in your marriage, some expectations, some measuring sticks, or some performance assessments? Are there some areas where you need to let grace win out, to let grace serve as an invitation to intimacy?

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