Intimacy: When Love, Cherish and Yada Collide

“To love and to cherish… till death do us part.” 

How many of us said these vows on the day we were married? Since then, we might have read marriage books, gone through couples counseling, and had numerous conversations about what it means to love one another. But what do intimacy, love, cherish, and yada mean in a Christian relationship?


This tension and frustration have motivated me to seek an answer, a definition, a solution.  

Defining Cherish, Love, and Intimacy

What is yada? What is cherish?  


Some of us just got clear on what love is: a commitment to act in someone else’s best interest. 


If that’s not cherish then what is? And what is yada? I thought “yada yada yada” meant blah, blah, blah.


Cherish is to protect and care for (someone) lovingly.


Yada (yaw-dah’) is Hebrew for the word “lay” used several times in the Bible as a reference to sex. It is to know, to be known, to respect deeply. 


Genesis 4:1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.


Intimacy is a combination of love, cherishing, and yada.


Shakab (shaw-kab’) is another Hebrew word used for sexual activity in the Bible. It is used in Genesis 19:31. Lot’s oldest daughter gets her father drunk so that she can have sex with him. Her reason for this deliberate incestuous act is to continue the family line as she believes that “…there is no man around here to lie with us …” (and you thought men were impatient). Shakab is basically how mammals reproduce.

pages of bible blowing in the wind

There is quite a contrast in the connotation of these two Hebrew words. One evokes all that is good and wholesome and as it should be; the other is profane.  


Dannah Gresh wrote What Are You Waiting For?: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex. The book does an excellent job unpacking these words beautifully and tastefully, and it is a must-read for all interested in how to have a godly dating relationship, or marriage relationship.


Most of us don’t understand yada. Cherish is as close as I can translate it.  


It’s why you ask, “what is wrong with her?” The short answer is we’ve failed to fully know her and understand her (shakab). 


Don’t be discouraged; you can learn to have the mind of Christ and be in a relationship in a godly way and to cherish your spouse as Christ cherishes them. But you need Him; don’t do this in your flesh.  


1 Corinthians 13:4-7 contains much of cherish in it:


 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


Cherish goes beyond love, which is a commitment to act in someone else’s best interest. Cherish is a choice to yada; to know, to be known, to respect deeply. A choice to be determined to know all aspects of your wife, especially know her emotionally. 

  • What makes her laugh, cry, happy
  • What brings joy, comfort, peace, compassion
  • What energizes her spirit
  • How to care for her soul
  • How to emotionally caress with a deep emotional quenching

Jesus is The Perfect Example of How To Cherish

Does Jesus cherish me? Sure He does! 


Look at His life: leaving heaven, coming here, a horrible death, giving the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Church, forgiveness, prayer, mercy, grace, and angels. Those things are like love on steroids. God so loved He gave, but then look what Jesus DID with it, He cherished.


It is all about attitude. Love because we are told to love our wives is very different than because I want to. Christ’s attitude was “cherish,” and we are told to have the mind of Christ–attitude is in your mind. When you look deeper at all He did, cherish was all over it. He never let up. He was always trying to get whoever He was with to see faith in a different way: His way. His attitude was to extend himself, including giving His life to us so that we would “get it” and understand there was a different way to do life beyond what we knew in our little world, whether we were a “sinner” or a “Pharisee.”  


What he did was love.  

How He did it was cherish. 


He didn’t damn us for being sinners; He showed us a better way: grace. And He continues to show grace today. He gives us many opportunities to change. It’s all about attitude.


Cherish is not putting your wife on a pedestal and kissing her feet. It’s 1 Peter 3:7:  

“Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  


Nowhere in the Bible does it say a wife is a princess, but it does say to “be considerate as you live with your wife.” And “treat them with respect .. …as heirs with you…” That is part of cherishing. The same God made both of you in His image. You both have equal value but different roles. 

woman kissing mans bald head

And it’s Colossians 3:19:


 “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”


Harsh is the opposite of cherish. Before Jesus came, women were just above cattle in how they were treated and what rights they had. In the Old Testament, both Abraham and Issac had their wives tell lies to protect their lives, and that put the wives at risk of sexual advances from foreign men. 


I mean, Jesus was born in a STABLE. Nobody in the inn gave up a room to a pregnant woman in labor!  


But when Jesus came to earth, He gave us the perfect example of how to live, including how to treat women, and how not to be harsh with them. Jesus elevated them to a much higher social position by allowing them to be in his entourage, at several different meals, and in other public social situations. A woman saw Jesus first after He rose from the dead. Jesus was a great example, and the Bible tells us to imitate Him.

Imitating Christ By Cherishing Our Spouses

1 Peter 3:1 “… if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 


If your lifestyle can lead an ungodly husband to Christ (without words), you are living in such a way that he will feel cherished.


In the book Prodigal God, Tim Keller asks the question: 


Do we want God, or do we want His “things,” i.e., salvation, heaven? Do you love Him or His things? 


Tim Keller teaches us to count the costs. Be “melted and moved” at what it cost God and Jesus for you to be allowed in heaven. Jesus gave it all, including His life, so our sins could be forgiven, and we could be made righteous that God would allow us in heaven. 


When we submit to Christ, as Christ submitted to God, it will change the way we look at our needs and wants on this earth, especially in relationship with our spouse. But you have to start by loving Christ for who He is, to love your spouse. 


How awesome it was for Him to leave heaven in the first place, give up all His “things,” and come down here. And love Him for the awful, substitutionary death He died in our place. 


I do love Him for what He did because He chose to do it for me. And out of profound appreciation and gratitude, I want to follow Him and be more like Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” 

bible study

Cherish God for who He is, not what He can do for you, not for His “things.” If we make this change in attitude, it will make a huge difference in our relationship with Him and our spouse. We will find that doing all the “one another” commands of the Bible are much easier when done out of gratitude rather than duty. 


Learn more about how we are called to treat one another.


When we want to love Him as He has loved us, it changes how we go about doing life. 


When you cherish your spouse because of who they are and what having them in your life means to you, rather than for “things,” they will feel cherished. 


Don’t just love your spouse and God. Learn how to cherish your spouse as God does, and you’ll enjoy your marriage like never before.