What does it mean to be one flesh? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
At this point in the Genesis narrative, we are told once Adam and Eve meet that for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. For us, we think, “Yes. A boy meets a girl, falls in love, leaves his parents’ house and marries her.” In the world of the Bible, it would be much deeper than that.
Family structures run deeper than we imagine. This was saying that the husband and wife would really become a whole new family unit in a sense. The main bond would no longer be between the man and his original family, but between the man and his new wife.
This is also the first wedding in the Bible. It’s tempting to think that just having sex with someone makes you husband and wife, but as we go through this series on marriage in the Bible, I hope to show that that is not accurate. God is the one who marries Adam and Eve together ultimately.
But what is this one flesh?
The word is echad for one and it refers to a powerful unity, a unity that is in the nature of God in the Trinity. When we speak of the three persons as one being, we really speak of a deep and powerful inseparable connection. Such is supposed to take place between husband and wife.
Obviously, this can’t refer to just sex as if you see a husband and wife walking around, they can walk around a part. A couple doesn’t become glued to each other forever when they have sex. At the same time, this means more, but as N.T. Wright would mean, it doesn’t mean less.
For a Christian marriage, a sexual union is supposed to mirror the union that takes place everywhere else, and vice-versa. Barring any medical problems or problems of distance (Such as a husband serving overseas in the military) if the home life is good, the sex life should be good, and if the sex life is good, the home life should be good. The two build on one another.
As one recovering from a divorce, I can definitely say that the separation of the bond that is meant to be there is extremely painful. This is the one kind of relationship where you can say you gave someone everything you had in a covenant promise and they rejected it. It is such a great sting that it cannot compare to any other kind. You never really realize that until it happens to you.
I used to say that I would rather lose my library than to lose my wife, and I meant it. It has been more painful by far. I could easily go out there and earn any number of books all over again. I cannot do that in the area of another human being. You do not truly replace a spouse you lost. Persons are not interchangeable for the most part. You just go out and try to find someone new, but that wound is still there. Just today I had a message from someone who remarried over a decade after his divorce and yet had a hard time with trust still.
However, the bodily union is powerful, and it’s supposed to be. We are not Gnostics. We are embodied creatures and God made us that way and He made the sexual union the way that it is as well. Those who have experienced it do know that there is indeed something extremely connecting about it. It didn’t take me long to find this out in my experience.
God blesses the couple in this. He wants them to be fruitful and multiply as was said in Genesis 1. (Which some guys I know have said is the best commandment God ever gave man.) It’s not something dirty. It’s something sacred God made.
But there’s another part to this passage isn’t there? Yes. We will cover that when we continue.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)