Intimacy Gone Wrong: the Biggest Obstacle to Connection with God

Young woman crying out to God about intimacy gone wrong

You were created in the image of God, with the need, desire, and capacity for intimacy. That need is part of your very DNA. It’s close to the core of your being. So it’s no wonder the enemy has worked so hard to steal, kill, and destroy in this area. And intimacy gone wrong doesn’t only affect your own soul; it harms your ability to relate to God also.

How has intimacy gone wrong for you? It has, you know. Every human being has been assaulted in this part of their being. Perhaps for you it’s been:

  • Getting the message from experiences, family, culture, or even the church that it’s too dangerous to let others truly see and know you
  • Believing you must pretend to be someone you’re not just in order to survive
  • Experiencing pain such as rejection, violation, abortion, STDs, or a hundred other hurtful things as the result of your attempts at intimacy or others’ bad behavior

Name your own “intimacy gone wrong.” This is not blaming yourself or blaming others; it’s simply assessing the state of your soul.

Even the idea of intimacy might be confusing. I don’t need that. Or you think of sex and intimacy as the same thing. (They’re not!)

For all the internal disruption that “intimacy gone wrong” has caused you, there’s perhaps no bigger impact than how it disrupts your relationship with God. Here are a few ways that happens.

Confusing or Inaccurate Picture of God

Since we cannot see God with our physical eyes we come to learn about Him through people we can see. Intellectual “truths” don’t automatically change your internal picture of God. Other people, and just plain “life,” teach you whether or not you matter. Are you too much? Not enough? Do you have to pretend or perform in order to get what you truly need? Is intimacy–seeing and being seen, knowing and being known–possible? If it is, can it be good?

How you grew up looms large here. Were you seen and known in your family of origin? What did you have to do to get goodness? Those core beliefs deeply affect how you see God.

And this becomes even more treacherous when God-talk or religion is mixed up with harm. Sexual abuse in the name of God. Using Scripture as a weapon to shame and control, including in marriage around intimacy. And more.

Why would you want to come closer to, have a relationship with, someone who is always looking for you to mess up? Or who puts “laws” in place that seem to hurt and destroy your inner soul and leave you objectified and wounded? The confusion between your internal picture of God and who He really is may be big enough that you need a whole new God.

Hiding from God

Humans have been hiding ever since the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). And we’ve gotten very good at it. Sin immediately brings shame, and shame leads to hiding. You might hide in all sorts of ways; shrinking back or being aggressive are two sides of the same hiding.

And “intimacy gone wrong” only magnifies the shame and hiding. “Intimacy gone wrong” involves you being seen, or trying to be seen, in some way and getting harmed in the process. Your brain comes to equate being seen with danger.

So naturally you shrink from God seeing you. You don’t want anyone, let alone the most powerful Being in the universe, to truly see and know you. Of course He does see you, but you put up all the walls you can trying to remain hidden. Part of you hopes He sees your good behavior more than your mess-ups, and that He overlooks the ugly parts of your heart that leak out at times. (Facetious note to self: you simply must try harder to keep those ugly parts of you in check.)

So you’re left with a God at a distance, hoping He’ll do telehealth on you in response to the right prayer. How’s that working for you?  Tweet that.

The only way God can truly do His work in you is if you give Him access. The doorknob on the entrance to your heart is on the inside (see Revelation 3:20), and you’ve got to make the decision to let Him in. “Intimacy gone wrong” makes it so much harder to do that.

Right Brain/Emotional Response 

How you think of and respond to God is much more than a conscious decision. Most of the time it’s not conscious at all. You “feel” a certain way about allowing God close or moving closer to Him. That’s your Right brain talking.

Your Right brain learns things primarily by experience. Stuffing facts into your Left brain is woefully slow and ineffective at changing the way your soul responds to God (or anything else). “Intimacy gone wrong” has taught your Right brain that you must stay hidden, that you can’t really hope for or believe in safety, or that the only way to survive is to claw and fight your way forward. Your fight/flight/freeze response gets triggered at the very idea or possibility of relationship, intimacy, with God.

And the enemy gloats with glee. Mission accomplished.

That can all change.

But remember that your Right brain changes slowly. That’s why Jesus came to be with us (Matthew 1:23). Religious activities can help a little, but they only go so far. It’s why we must nurture being with Him if we want to experience transformation.

Intimacy Gone Wrong

Take some time to consider where intimacy has gone wrong for you, and how that may have impacted your relationship with God (or lack thereof).

Know that God is patient. He’s interested in you having a whole new experience around intimacy, attachment to Him, communion with Him.

Your Turn: Where has intimacy gone wrong for you? How has that impacted how you see or experience God and your relationship with Him?  Leave a comment below.

Tweetables: why not share this post?

  • All of us have experienced intimacy gone wrong. That not only damages your own soul, but it negatively impacts your relationship with God. Tweet that.

Married and No Intimacy?

You said “I do” expecting lasting love, connection, intimacy, and joy. But you may now be feeling more loneliness, frustration, or anger. What happened to “happily ever after?”

In one important sense it’s not your fault. Nobody ever taught you how to do marriage, intimacy, sex, and relationships well. Our Fully Alive Marriage online course shows you how to overcome marriage challenges, learn to love well, and build an intimate and Fully Alive marriage that lasts!