Intimacy – The Sanctity of Sexuality

Intimacy

The Sanctity of Sexuality

 

 

Chapter 1 What Are Sexuality And Intimacy?

 

Wisdom

What is Intimacy?

 

In regard to intimacy, we live in a time of crises. Everyone craves intimacy, and everyone is searching for intimacy, yet it has become an area of great conflict and confusion.

 

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Society’s standards of sexuality and intimacy have changed greatly since the so called “sexual revolution.” Ours is now a society bombarded by sexual thought and imagery; sexual boundaries have been blurred.

 

Wisdom

 

It is obviously an appropriate time to review our attitude towards intimacy and sexuality.

 

What is sexuality exactly, and what is the power behind its mystique? What deeper meaning does it have in our lives? Are intimacy and sexuality one and the same?

 

The “sexual revolution” supposedly set people free; are you free, or are you enslaved more than ever to your desires, more confused than ever by shifting standards?

 

Wisdom

 

Sexuality is an internal, G-dly energy, a meeting of body and soul, that is nourished by true intimacy, by modesty and subtlety.

 

Wisdom

Sexuality Can Only Flourish In Marriage

 

Sexuality can only flourish healthily in the context of the sacred institution of marriage.

 

Wisdom

The Body and Soul Of Sexuality

 

Sexuality itself possesses both a body and a soul, a physical and spiritual dimension.

 

Its body is the union of human bodies, accompanied by the deepest of physical pleasures.

 

Its soul is the union with G-dliness, accompanied by the deepest of spiritual pleasures.

 

Wisdom

 

When sexuality’s spiritual nature is removed or ignored, it can become and irrational obsession that consumes an individual.

 

Wisdom

Sexuality is among the most potent forces in life.

 

It can either lift us to the greatest heights of self-sacrifice and commitment, or lower us into the depth of self-interest and demoralization.

 

Sexuality is never neutral.

 

Wisdom

 

The irony is that focusing on sexuality is its undoing.

 

Wisdom

 

Sexuality divorced of its intimate nature loses its true meaning, its dignity, its majesty.

 

Wisdom

 

This is where sexuality and intimacy diverge.

 

Intimacy does not equal sexuality; it is a special state, separate from all else in our lives, that must be approached with gentleness and awe.

 

In the Bible, sexuality is called “knowledge,” for it involves intimate knowledge shared by two people.

 

When sexuality loses its intimacy and is seen in the same light as our other bodily needs, it becomes basic hedonism, little more than a technical and biological function.

 

Wisdom

 

Because human beings tend to define things in physical terms, using only our sensory tools instead of our spiritual tools, we often ignore sexuality’s spiritual component.

 

Its powerful hold on man becomes a purely physical hold, defined individually by each person.

 

Only by understanding the soul of sexuality, which is healthy intimacy, can we uncover the root of its power and passion.

 

Wisdom

 

A young woman came to see a Rabbi, saying she was having difficulty finding a mate.

 

The Rabbi suggested that she concentrate on communicating verbally with her prospective mates, in order to see if they were truly compatible, and to avoid any intimacy. “But in today’s society, that’s unrealistic” the woman responded.

 

The Rabbi sighed and said quietly “intimacy is like fire; When you think you will quench it by indulging it, you quickly realize that your pouring gasoline, not water, on the fire.

 

However, when intimacy is experienced with discipline, within the context of a sanctified marriage, it becomes a healthy fire that warms both people and illuminates their home and family.”

 

Chapter 2 Why is Sexuality So Powerful?

Wisdom

 Why sexuality is so powerful!?

 

When G-d created man and woman, they were one human in the image of one G-d; then they were separated into two distinct parts.

 

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Therefore, as is written in Genesis “a man shall leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they shall become one body.”

 

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Man and woman constantly feel this need to reunite. And sexuality is this union.

 

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Man and woman seek to become “one flesh” thereby uniting with G-d, in whose image they were created.

 

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No wonder such intimacy is such a powerful force: It is the only experience in human life in which we come face to face with G-d.

 

Wisdom

 

Intimacy is also the only experience in life that allows us to become truly G-dlike in that it empowers a husband and wife to create.

 

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Nothing else we do as human is as G-dlike as creating new life, which in turn can create other lives, on and on, eternally.

 

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This G-dly nature is what gives sexuality its mystique, is it the one opportunity man has to “taste” G-d – to create as he creates.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The Vulnerability of Intimacy

 

In addition, intimacy is a celebration of vulnerability, it touches the softest spot in each person, the most private and fragile part of a human being.

 

Therefore, we must cultivate a healthy environment for our intimacy, one that allows us to appreciate and revel in this vulnerability, secure and protected.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Most of us desire true intimacy, but we are afraid to experience true vulnerability, to lose control.

 

Wisdom

 

But this makes it difficult to ever experience true intimacy, for being comfortable with your vulnerability is the ultimate intimacy.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The illusion of intimacy – where each person is getting what he or she needs – only makes people feel good at the moment, if at all.

 

If they are still in control at the end, if they have not exposed their vulnerability, then their “intimacy” was just another form of exercising control over another person.

 

Practice and Theory

 

When we learn to see the G-dliness in each other, we can begin to trust, and reach beyond our own self-contained distrusting selves and to experience real love and intimacy. We then can choose to let go and be vulnerable to be ourselves without putting up our defenses without fear of abuse.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Freedom to choose the direction of Intimacy

 

As with all matters we have been given a choice. We can be distracted and misled by the physical passion of intimacy, pursuing it only to satisfy our selfish needs, which then drives man and woman apart.

 

Or we can understand sexuality and intimacy as the truly meaningful forces that they are, as the means to connect with G-d in the most powerful, sublime manner, which in turn unites man and woman.

 

Chapter 3 How Do We Experience Healthy Intimacy?

 

Practice and Theory

 

Healthy Intimacy – Discipline and Sanctity

 

Healthy intimacy requires two ingredients: discipline and sanctification.

 

We must exercise self-control and we must also see sexuality as sacred.

 

Practice and Theory

 

One must approach the sanctity of sexuality with awe, like entering into the Holy of Holies, where every action counts, where any blemish is intolerable.

 

Practice and Theory

 

We must experience sexuality in a controlled environment with appropriate boundaries – not to dampen the expressions of love, but to channel the powerful physical energies into healthy passions.

 

Wisdom

 

In modern society, sexuality often involves two people who are each interested in only satisfying their own needs.

 

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Sexuality is meant to be transcendental not indulgent; allowing you to let another person into your soul so you can build something greater together.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Only by introducing G-d into the relationship can a man and woman overcome their individual desires, and marriage is the only perfect environment in which to do so. In all other environments intimacy is unhealthy and harmful.

 

Wisdom

 

How often are we victims of our own sexuality, allowing our unchecked needs and desires to control our decisions?

 

How often do we use sexuality to distract ourselves from existential pain, mistakenly believing we can remedy a deep-seated problem with a superficial solution?

 

Wisdom

 

Untamed Sex is Unhealthy

 

The key to healthy intimacy is to stop the vicious cycle of untamed sexuality, for the more you feed it the hungrier it grows.

 

Discipline and subtlety direct these into a healthy and growthful experience.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The argument that one must first try living with another person before deciding whether to marry is not valid.

 

When sexuality is experienced in an inappropriate manner, it only hampers our ability to achieve true intimacy when the time is right.

 

Practice

 

If you are close when you should be distant, you will be distant when you should be close.

 

Practice

 

The benefit of Healthy Intimacy

 

When intimacy is experienced properly, we achieve a closeness that flows into the rest of our lives and introduces sanctity and unity into all that we do.

 

Wisdom

 

Intimacy is an integral part of our lives and cannot be compartmentalized.

 

Practice

 

Intimacy is a part of building a home and family, a full and complete life.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Modesty in Intimacy

 

Healthy intimacy must also be modest. By definition intimacy is quiet and discreet.

 

Wisdom

 

Upon their creation, man and woman, “were both naked but they were not ashamed (of their nakedness.)” They were as innocent as children. Seeing sexuality only as a part of G-d’s creation and designed to serve a sacred function. But after they transgressed and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they lost their innocence: “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked.” They experienced a healthy shame stemming from modesty, and they covered themselves.

 

Wisdom

 

Ideally, we would all be as innocent as children. Sexuality would flow from a healthy spirit and soul. We would learn about healthy intimacy simply by being around our healthy parents and grandparents.

 

Wisdom

 

In these turbulent times, such lessons are not so easily gained, and this concept of modesty must be articulated.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Young people today are more than willing to be taught an alternative to our current standards, but they are caught in a whirlwind of peer pressure.

 

It is the responsibility of teachers, parents and every sort of leader to teach them about the sanctity of sexuality.

 

Practice

 

We must strive to realize that true intimacy, the authentic dignity of a human being, shines from within.

 

Wisdom

 

What kind of message is being sent by someone who dresses provocatively or who speaks of sexuality without the proper respect? Such overt sexuality only promotes sexists attitudes that further distort how we look at our fellow human beings.

 

Wisdom

 

True beauty, one that commands both love and respect is inner beauty.

 

Wisdom

 

Inappropriate Expressions of Libidal Gratification

It is true, especially in contemporary times, that people don’t want anyone to impose restrictions on their sexuality. But not all forms of sexual behavior are acceptable.

 

Practice

 

The sanctity of sexuality obviously requires behavior that follows the Divine laws of our creator, laws that do not ask us to deny sexuality but to experience it in healthy and intimate form that we will only enhance human growth and progress, and break the chains of enslavement to one’s passions that ultimately leads to societal decadence.

 

Wisdom

 

The fact that we live in a society that is largely unfamiliar with healthy sexuality does not change this truth.

 

Wisdom

 

And even if a particular aberrant sexual desire were thought of to be genetic for instance, it should not be condoned, for much of our very existence is concerned with properly channeling our natural desires.

 

Wisdom

 

Establishing a standard of behavior should not be caused to invalidate one who does not live by it; these standards – which are uncomprimisable –are meant to give us clarity and the ability to improve our behavior.

 

Wisdom

 

Discussing and Teaching Intimacy

 

G-d’s standard for human sexuality is what is best for each of us, and we must not be afraid to teach these ideals.

 

Wisdom

 

As with communicating all serious matters of truth, we must do so sensitively, speaking with genuine love and concern, but also with discipline; in a manner and language that emphasizes the positive, and motivates one to grow.

 

Wisdom

 

The current crises surrounding sexuality in our society must be seen as an opportunity to explore its importance.

 

Wisdom

 

During recent years, we have clearly witnessed that immodest sexual behavior does nothing to cultivate true intimacy.

 

It only destroys respect for the individual and for home and family.

 

But we have also begun to see a growing consciousness that puts more emphasis on communication, both intellectually and emotionally, than on promiscuous sexual behavior, and that is clearly a step in the right direction.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The time has come to reclaim our sexuality and intimacy, to return them to the context of marriage, home and family.

 

Practice and Theory

 

The time has come to reintroduce G-d into our intimate lives, to return to our original intimacy with our creator.

 

Practice

 

This would be a true “sexual revolution.” Take this responsibility seriously. An entire world – beginning with your own small world – hangs in the balance.

 

Practice

 

The Rebbe was once asked his opinion concerning sex education in the schools.

 

“Discussing such an issue does help resolve a problem” the Rebbe answered “but as the Sages tell us, the more you discus sexuality the more you instigate it. Therefore, great care must be taken in this area. It should be done by sensitive professionals who will avoid any provocative expressions or associations. It should be discussed privately with a student or at most with two or three students, and it should be discussed separately with boys and girls to keep the boundaries clear.”

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