God is no Harlot
I hear people complain from time to time about the seeming absence of God’s voice in their lives. They’ll hear stories of God clearly revealing himself to someone and then respond that they don’t have any stories like that… or ask, “Why does he never do that kind of thing for me?” Though we all, in certain seasons of our lives, may experience what feels like distance from God or silence from God, what I sense in most of these interactions is not this relational ebb and flow. Rather, it seems to reveal a misinformed perspective with which many people view God.
This perspective expects God to offer the deepest parts of himself to perfect strangers. While it’s true that God knows each of us through and through (after all, he is God), the same cannot always be said of us knowing him intimately. To expect him to unveil pieces of his heart to strangers – who may or may not have any desire what-so-ever for them – is unfounded.
We have words for people who offer intimacy to strangers. And they aren’t good. There’s a reason why prostitution is stigmatized. It goes against something we all know in our hearts to be true: intimacy is not for strangers. It is meant for the context of loving relationship – covenant relationship,* to be exact.
God has placed this truth in each of our hearts because we all, as human beings, are made in his image (Genesis 1:27). Women bear this part of God’s image in a unique way. John and Stasi Eldredge capture this beautifully in their book Captivating. “Just like God, a woman is not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed. She yearns to be known and that takes time and intimacy. It requires an unveiling. After she is sought after, she reveals more of her beauty. As she unveils her beauty, she draws us to know her more deeply.”
This is even illustrated in a woman’s sexuality. In the context of pursuit and intimacy, she is free to unveil more and more of herself because it is safe to do so. [This is why today’s “casual” sex culture is so destructive. It goes against our very nature. God didn’t make sex casual. It is an intimate act that involves our spirit, soul, and body and was designed to glue two people together for life.]
A woman’s revealing of herself in the context of intimacy reflects God’s character and the ways in which he chooses to unveil his deepest secrets. “God yearns to be known. But he wants to be sought after by those who would know him.” You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings (Proverbs 25:2). Do not give to dogs what is sacred, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet… (Matthew 7:6).
This rings in my ears when I hear people accusingly complain about their lack of intimate moments with God. More times than not, people are expecting him to be a harlot. They are prioritizing their flesh more than their spirit (I hope to write more on this later) and generally living with a disinterest in the things of God. And God is no harlot. He will not throw himself at people who have no desire for him, who don’t prioritize him, who see him as someone they’ll fit into their lives “if they can” and “when they have time.” Ouch. Haven’t we all fallen into that trap at times? God is never the one who drops the ball. We are the ones who too often crowd him out of our lives and fail to make room for intimacy with him.
What might it look like to seek him with our whole hearts and thereby gain access to his beautiful mysteries? Well, for starters, we ought to ask him to turn our hearts toward this life of intimacy, to stir up our desires for what he values. Only he can change our hearts. Another step toward this intimate connection is starting each day with him, even if it begins as just five minutes each morning. There’s something powerful about taking time to quiet ourselves in the morning, surrender the day to him, and invite him into the details.
Another step toward true intimacy is finding out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). We, by God’s grace, can grow in our sensitivity to what feeds our spirit instead of our flesh. For example, I am very careful with what I give an ear to. Whether it’s a movie, a song, a conversation, or anything else, I’m always attentive to the condition of my heart, and if I sense anything contrary to the Truth, I will turn off that movie, that song, etc. I have no interest in allowing lies to be spoken over my heart through media or circumstances of any sort. Just because a song has a pretty melody doesn’t mean it’s worth listening to. There was a pretty sounding country song I heard several years ago that began, “If I die young, bury me in satin…” As I listened to the lyrics, I sensed such hopelessness, which is the exact opposite of what Jesus offers. Unfortunately, it has a very pretty melody which I’m sure caused a lot of people to like it and listen to it repeatedly. No thanks! I don’t care how pretty a song sounds, I’m not having hopelessness sung over my life! “Same Love” is very similar, though the lie is not subtle at all: “I can’t change, even if I tried…” WHAT A LIE! Every person on the planet can change; it’s what Jesus came for!
I have also had some bad movie experiences where the story was subtly communicating a lethal lie, and I felt defiled after watching it (Philadelphia and Million Dollar Baby were two such movies) – to the point that I prayed over myself afterward, releasing my heart from any lie the enemy was trying to sow through the experience. I used to love the movie The Bridges of Madison County, but I don’t plan on ever watching it again because the story champions adultery and causes you to root for the other man. LIE, LIE,LIE. Now I’ve learned to just turn things off when I feel this way – and instead, to only allow things in that keep turning my thoughts and my heart toward the Lord – his goodness, his bigness, his miracle-working power.
[As a side note, I would just like to say this kind of sensitivity to the Spirit is the common denominator in everyone I look up to in the Body of Christ. Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, Andrew Wommack, Joyce Meyer, and Christine Caine (among many others I greatly respect) all have the Kingdom as their number one pursuit. They often refer to the fact that they aren’t filling their minds with lifeless media intake and constantly feeding their flesh; rather, they are continually protecting their connection with God. And just look at the fruit. The miracles they see and the encounters they have with the Lord are not accidental. God is no harlot. They have prioritized intimacy with him, and he in turn as has entrusted them with great riches. This is why I completely disagree when people tell me that music and movies and TV shows have no effect on them spiritually (meaning they can hear filthy language, see risque sex scenes, and take in all the subtle lies and be completely uninfluenced by them). These same people have a pretty obvious lack of divine encounters and sensitivity to the Spirit. I’m not at all for legalism, nor am I saying that watching TV or listening to any secular music is bad altogether. What I am saying is that guarding our hearts is a must if we desire intimacy with the Father. Our Spirit must be fed more than our flesh. Being in covenant relationship with God means that our hearts want to make decisions that honor him and strengthen our connection with him, just like a marriage relationship.]
Making room for this intimacy with God is simply learning to put him first in every single part of our lives. We choose to seek God about everything, to hold nothing back from him (since he knows it all anyway). And we choose to keep moving toward him when we feel we’ve blown it and disappointed him. His grace empowers us to keep running into his arms when we fail instead of running away from him. Some of our most beautiful encounters with him are when we choose to actually believe that HIS LOVE IS UNFAILING and draw near to him in our mess. He’s after our hearts, not after our perfect behavior.
This deep intimacy is available to each of us. But for a relationship to be real, it has to be two-sided. We have to make room in our lives to get to know him – and then make choices that protect our connection. God is no harlot. He is a Groom pursuing his bride. He wants to be known but must be known in the context of intimacy.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
*A covenant relationship is one in which both sides willingly lay down their lives in order to love, serve, and better the life of the other. It is forever, and it means that each party is resolute in keeping his/her side of the commitment, even if the other one fails. This is exactly how God relates to us. He always, always follows through on his part of the relationship!
[Thanks to John and Stasi Eldredge, whose writing inspired the title for this post.]