Tag Archives: intimacy

An Uncommon Union of Imperfect Intimacy

9 Jan

I’ve recently finished A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden. I couldn’t help but be touched by Edwards the man; my impression of him was always of an extremely intellectual, even dour historic figure, but his seriousness comes across with a sweetness, most notably in his affections toward his wife. I’m nothing if not a romantic. In his last days, he was separated from his wife Sarah, and he expressed these final sentiments (in beautifully awkward and wordy archaic prose):

“give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and there fore will continue forever.”

Theologian Jonathan Edwards

We all know that Jesus said there would be no marriage in heaven (Mark 12:25), but I love to speculate on what Edwards was thinking of when he spoke of their “uncommon union” continuing forever. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says,

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Of course, this is primarily speaking of our relationship and intimacy with Jesus, which will finally satisfy our desire for perfect intimacy in a way no earthly relationship ever could. But I also believe that we saints in the new heavens and new earth will share this kind of intimacy with each other. It makes perfect sense to me that the phrase, “then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known”, pops up at the end of the Bible’s most complete treatise on Love; because what is love without intimacy? You can say that you love someone, but if that person does not feel known by you, they will not feel loved.

Edwards understood that even without the institution of marriage, his “uncommon union” with Sarah would only become more richly intimate in Christ’s eternal kingdom, and that truth gave him a bittersweet joy in passing from her.

And we who still live in our momentary marriages (to use a Piper phrase) have the sweet blessing of reaching imperfectly for that heavenly intimacy here on earth, and showing forth a glimpse of the kingdom of God. And what a joy it is to be imperfectly known and imperfectly loved by a beautiful godly wife on this earth! And what a greater joy it will be to be perfectly known by her and by Jesus in eternity!

(@emily- i love you honey!)