Dear Pastor. As a single I am struggling with the desire of intimacy.  How do I have to handle this?  I am not focussed on intercourse, but the natural feeling of intimacy like a hug or an arm around the shoulder.  What is the limit between healthy Christian intimacy and homosexual tinted intimacy?


Dear friend,

I have long puzzled over how to answer this question and to be honest, I still don’t know exactly what to say.  You are a single person and desire the closeness of physical intimacy.  At the end of the question you bring in the homosexual nature of this desire as well.  It is always easiest to tell a person ‘how to play a better game’ while standing on the side-lines.  Or, to say it in cynical way, ‘The best sailors stand on the shore.’   I am a married man and may enjoy the close intimacy with my wife.

We all receive, if good, our first intimacy from our parents.  As our parents cuddled us in our baby and toddler years, they kept our tanks filled.  In growing into childhood and teenager years, this contact with parents usually decreases over time.  In the period of our teenage life the desire awakens to share intimacy with someone else.  This desire and need for intimacy is not sinful.  It is part of our creation.  God has made us ‘social beings’ and even said about Adam before the fall that ‘it was not good for man to be alone.’   The natural urges that biologically are awakened as our maturing bodies and mind is part of His good and beautiful creation.

However, God has instituted marriage life (Heb. 13:4) as the only setting where physical and sexual intimacy between a male and female may be experienced.  So for you to seek the satisfaction of the physical intimacy outside the marriage relationship would be contrary to God’s expressed will.  Of course, I can understand your desire to be held, or for someone else to share physical intimacy with you, but God has only created the marriage relationship as the safe and permitted setting for that interaction between males and females. 

So you focus and prayer should be to seek a marriage partner.  One of the Lord’s servants, Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote a journal.  One day he entered this question in his personal journal, “What must I do to fight sin?”  He didn’t specify the sin this young and unmarried minister struggled with but his answer does shed much light on his struggle.  His first answer was “Get married.”  He never did marry because he died while young.  But he realized that ‘healthy physical intimacy’ can only be experienced within the safety of a Christian marriage.

Now, I realize that you may not be single by choice. Maybe you have been praying about getting married. Let me assume you ask the Lord that every day, confessing especially the growing desires and needs within you that can’t be met by being alone.  But prayer is not a ‘magic button’ that solves all things.  God has taught to pray for our daily bread.  But He still expects me to work for it, earn the money or even bake the bread.  So you also are expected to ‘do the right things’ to obtain a person with whom you may marry.   Perhaps you are shy to approach someone or open a conversation with someone.  But at least begin to do that.  You didn’t learn to bike on the first try.  So you also don’t get comfortable speaking with others until you have tried it.   Visit places where young people come together and prayerfully use these means, asking God to bring someone into your life with whom you may share the intimacy.

What if God doesn’t bring you a spouse?  Yes, that’s hard; that’s a cross and a big one.  One single person will experience that more than another. But God’s grace is sufficient to help you with that ‘thorn’ in your life.  Others have lived functional and fulfilled lives without being married.  That is attainable.  Let that be the focus of your life now.  Rather than focussing on what you have not focus on the opportunities God allows you in being single.

If you struggle with homosexual tendencies, your needs are greater yet.  I am not ready to answer this need this stage, friend.   God’s will for the closest possible relationship between adults is and remains a male and female within the marriage relationship.   Any other relationship is not acceptable to Him no matter what the current world opinion and sadly also many “Christians” hold.   But how to deal with a homosexual orientation is something that I rather answer at a later stage after having done some more reading on this.  Perhaps you can post another question on this if this is indeed what you are struggling with.

Pastor Vergunst