Saturday, July 30, 2011

HUMANS AND INTIMACY Date unsure..note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward.
Rarely, I'm convinced, do individuals share themselves on a deeply personal level. A larger part of social relationships are presenting oneself as consistently as possible to what we want people to think of us. It is a necessary thing for human survival to develop and present a 'persona' or 'mask' in most of our public life. That does not mean that there is no true and relevant relating happening but I think most of us rarely let another in on our deepest feelings, questions, fears and desires. Right or wrong, we are ashamed of or for other reasons do not want or fear others knowing. This is  true in  committed couple relationships as well as in casual relationships. This is a rather sad reality. It is a barrier to full intimacy. But it is an  indication we still have exciting challenges ahead and potentials to fulfill  as human beings.

This is one of the amazing and powerful things about genuine, responsible professional counseling relationships. Often there, more than in any of ones 'real' relationships, a person may reach a level of honest sharing that can become deeply therapeutic and thus, in my view, highly spiritual. I think such a level of deep and frightening honesty is at the bottom of  the most profound  spiritual experiences  of life. I keep in mind  to this day the few individuals that I have so confided in. And I feel blessed for having done so. I was not rejected or put down or judged. For the most part my choice of where to so confide has been well placed.

It could be accurately argued that such honesty  at times may  be unethical  because of the burden it can create for the other person in the  relationship. A well defined therapeutic relationship does not run as  high a risk since it is separate from our daily significant others and our statements do not affect the personal life of the therapist like they do loved ones. Such honesty might rightly be viewed as our 'pearls' and as Jesus said we should carefully choose where we cast them. But, I'm convinced, they are not to be forever kept to ourselves. All our deepest secrets are potential gifts, not only for ourselves but to others.

Ideally two humans could conceivably relate consistently  in such intimacy. It is my belief that such open and vulnerable sharing of oneself is the potential that marriage makes possible for  lovers. How often that actually happens I guess no one knows but I suspect it is rather rare. The more one has a need to be seen in a certain prescribed way(Often one's need to be seen as religious or superior in some way are such  barriers.)the more difficult it is to drop the mask and take the very real risk of being rejected or judged negatively. One is not likely to exercise such a self revelation unless he is quite sure nothing he reveals  will cause the other person  to think less of her  or to in any way reject her. Such trust is  uncommon and being capable of receiving the full story of another and accepting them 'just as they are' is likely not a common capacity. A well trained professional counselor aspires to such a goal and I think in the professional relationship many are able to find such safety to successfully let down their mask. I'm sure that a promise of agreed to confidentiality is essential for a healthy person to risk such honesty.
Professional Therapy

No doubt some friends and some lovers do provide such confidentially to each other.( There are always human limits to any confidentiality promise.) But such a capacity to accept another at such a level and to be that open in a non professional setting must be an infrequent treasure.

I think it would be a mistake to assume that religious groups share at a superior level than others. But religious groups, eg. churches and prayer groups, do provide an extremely important and effective emotional and physical support group to members. Unquestionably non-professionally led anonymous groups, such as AA,  have provided a level of confidentiality that has helped untold numbers of people to become stronger persons.  Such support does not require the kind of intimate friendship I am describing above.

I do not know how often marriage reaches such an intimacy level but that seems to me the greatest promise it brings. There is likely no human experience that could potentially be more intensely spiritual than that. It would likely be an experience of fully recognizing in oneself and the other the deeper meaning behind the saying that we are 'made in the image of God.'

It is important I think that such intimacy be understood to not only benefit the couple. Rather all relationships that aim for this goal will be a blessing to all  the people who live in its circle. This is one good reason that Western culture and the church should be more open  than thus far to LGBT couples  yearning to express their love in marriage. They desire and need  it for precisely all the same reasons; legal, social and spiritual, that straight people do. Marriage affords any committed love couple the highest possibility of and support for an intimate relationship that not only blesses them but the world. Marriage potentially is a place where intimate love expressed as  Agape, Phileo and Eros  is the  highest level of  anticipated  joy and delight. Why should  everyone not have that same opportunity and possibility for such a goal? There cannot be too much support in a culture for committed love relationships in the world. I believe the survival and the quality of  future human lives depends upon  the increase of such relationships.

Such thoughts remind me of a truth I once heard from a Church of Christ  preacher, that we should remember  instead of human beings, we are 'humans becoming.' We are all more capable of 'knowing even as we are known.'

God's peace all around you. Jim
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