This weekend, I went down to Santa Cruz for a weekend of relaxation and community with the college-age group of my home church, Common. It was a true blessing be replenished physically and spiritually, and also to be blessed by a group of brothers and sisters that make the town I call home, home. I had a lot of sweet times and good conversations, but conversation that I overheard really caught my attention. Somehow, two of my friends got to talking about weblogs and one said, "What I think is really funny is that people will write stuff on their weblogs that they won't tell people face-to-face." My friend answered back with this: "Yeah, it the newest trend - it's intimacy without the relationship."
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the impact of technology on the christian culture and more importantly, on relationships. The phrase "intimacy without the relationship" sticks out in my mind specifically because it's a phrase that I've heard before; not in relationship to weblogs but in respect to people who choose to engage in physical intimacy outside of the bond of marriage. It's a topic that has a painful place in my past, and a topic on which I've had the opportunity to experience a huge amount of healing and grace, as well as the privelidge of being a blessing to others who deal with the same issue. I've been calloused and battered by the world on this topic so many times, but simply put, I believe that GOD created sex, and it's good. But I believe that sex is so much more than physical intimacy: it has profoundly beautiful emotional and spiritual dimensions that are powerfully deep and intimate, and designed to be enjoyed and explored within the context of marriage. When we take physical intimacy out of the context of marriage, it becomes mindless, unfulfilling, and debiliating - what is designed by GOD as a joyous and glorifying act becomes an empty husk of what GOD desires for it to be. Intimacy without relationship isn't really intimacy at all - it's an escape from responsibility, from reality, and from commitment.
So in looking around what real bloggers call the "blogosphere," I see some people who do use their blogs as an attempt to have intimacy without the relationship. They pour out the deepest, blackest gunk in the bottoms of their hearts onto their keygboards and out onto the World Wide Web, but away from their keyboards have no tangible network of honest, open friendships, nor do they have the desire to pursue them. Out of fearful ignorance, they would rather live with a draining, empty intimacy rather than embrace GOD's design: we are not meant to be alone. And when an internet journal is the only place we go to be honest and "intimate" with other people, what really happens is that it we only become more alone.
This is a bleak picture, but it is to my relief that none of those whom I call my friends use their blogs in this way: they blog with various degrees of honesty and candor, but all have their foundation in relationships, and in devotion to one another. I see them in church, I chat with them over coffee, and I pray with them. I have their phone numbers. I've seen them smile, and I've seen them cry. I've touched them, and they've touched me.
This place isn't my "escape;" I like to think "you" as of a few of my close friends, sitting around a big fire, telling stories and laughing. How much more of a joy it is when that this vision is a reality, but with my "friends" being scattered far and wide, this crude form of communication is the best that I can muster. It's kind of talking through morse code, tapping out messages late at night, waiting for the moments when we can be together again. Sometimes strangers come and listen in - my hope is that would read this and hear the echoes of my real relationships. Writing my brain snd heart here reminds me of the true source of my intimacy: real, authentic, face-to-face interactions. Lives shared together. Not only is it the design, it's good - who thought GOD's plan could be so cool. (Duh.)
If you're reading these messages and I haven't seen you in forever or I don't know you, feel free to listen in: my hope is GOD's voice can be heard in my broken life. Send me an email. Leave a comment. But if I do know you and you are reading this, know that I wish I could tell you this stuff face-to-face (maybe I already have), but for now, this is the best I can do. Call me. Visit me. I guess it'll be pretty sweet when I get to heaven, because I won't have need for this blog any more - we'll all be together. Amen for intimacy.
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)