The Key to Authentic Intimacy

by Jennifer Minor, Editor/WriterKey

In the follow-up to the Heartbeat International Annual Conference, one of my favorite things is the chance to listen to workshop recordings I might be interested in (Did you know you can order recordings of these workshops here?).

This year, Stephanie Libertore’s "Discover the Key to Authentic Intimacy" jumped out at me.

And I’m glad it did.

As Libertore says, “We have a need to know, a need to be known, and a need for love and acceptancethat’s our need for intimacy. We want intimacy.”

Being a young woman pretty close to the target audience of the pregnancy help movement, I’m always fascinated by how we approach the topic of intimacy. My experience has been so colored by movies, music, television, and the "cool" culture that I couldn’t begin to say what might be an expression of intimacy other than sex.

Though I know intimacy involves much more than one physical expression, Libertore gets it right when she says most young people equate "intimacy" with sex as a one for one.

“If sex is not the indicator of true intimacy, then what is?” she asks.

It’s a great question. If it’s really true that we long for intimacy, to know and be knownand we dothen how can we fulfill that need?

One comfort is the reminder that God wants this kind of intimacy with us. Libertore speaks straight to my heart (with scholarship in etymology) when she points out the Hebrew word yada, most often translated "to know".

Now yes, the first use of the word yada is in Genesis with Adam and Eve where Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and bore a son. But yada is used for so much more. Yada is about perception, understanding, seeing, experiencing, and willingness. It’s the way God wants to know us and wants us to know Him.

Intimacy, as Libertore points out, is best expressed in the phonetic rendering: "into me see."

“I think the key to genuine intimacy is vulnerability,” Libertore says.

Being vulnerable does allow us to know and be known, and if shared with someone who loves us, to be accepted for exactly who we are. It’s the way the psalmist speaks of God in Psalm 139. “O LORD, You have searched me and known me... Search me, O god, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:1, 23

The same word, yada, being used for both of these instances, tells us something about God, intimacy, and sex. It is the great reminder that sexual intercourse should be a reflection of the kind of intimacy God wants with us.

But sadly, as Libertore points out, young people often fall instead for what she dubs a "virtual intimacy"—an incomplete parody of the genuine article.

This is why so many make the same mistakes over and over again, hoping the same poor decision will lead to a better result next time around. The problem is, between the emotional and physical bonding forged through sexual intercourse, it becomes more and more difficult to form healthy relationships with the opposite sex. 

No wonder the Bible tells us over 100 times to avoid sexual immorality. Maybe this is why some women come to our pregnancy centers over and over again for the same meeting.

What’s the key to unlocking the right conversation—one that might finally open the door to seeing sex as something holy, with a purpose, and only to be shared between husband and wife?

I’ll let Libertore give you the specific keys, but it all starts with understanding where a young woman is coming from. (Here’s a clue: she doesn’t think of sex as holy. She might think it’s dirty, overrated, a tool, or harmless fun, but she doesn’t think it’s a reflection of the type of intimacy God wants with us.)

It’s our job to show her that and help her to unlock authentic intimacy.

Click here to order recordings of this workshop, or any of the 2016 Heartbeat International Annual Conference keynotes or workshops at