The Two Become One Flesh: God’s Gift of Marriage
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
The Biblical view of God-given sex and the one-flesh union of man and woman in marriage elicits an angry and at times violent reaction in many corners of our society today. Sadly, what is lost is the beauty, intentionality, and order of God’s creation of man, woman, and marriage as foundational for His earthly creation as Genesis 1 describes, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.’”
God’s creation of men and women as distinct and different is according to His design and purpose. Dr. John Kleinig’s recent book, Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body should be read by every Lutheran layperson, as well as each church worker. Dr. Kleinig helps to deepen our understanding and appreciation for the uniqueness of men and women and how they complement one another as God intended in the one flesh union of marriage. Permit me to share these extended quotes.
“It would be good for Adam if he had a physical ‘helper’ and a ‘partner’ (Gen 2:18, 20), but it would also be good for God, because by relying on each other they would learn to rely on him. On the one hand, it was good for Adam to have someone to help him in his work, a coworker and collaborator, so that there would be a division of labor between them in a common enterprise. On the other hand, and much more enigmatically, it would also be good if that helper would also be his ‘partner,’ a ‘fit companion’ for him. In Old Testament Hebrew, this rather unusual term is not used elsewhere as a noun, but only as a preposition for what is ‘in front of’ or ‘opposite’ a person or thing. Here it describes a partner who corresponds with him as his opposite, his proper match; she is meant to be his counterpart who will complement him, his other half who will be both like him in some respects and yet unlike him in others. Together they will round themselves off and sharpen each other physically and mentally, so that they will fit together well and work well together as they keep on adjusting to one another.” (p. 32-33)
“In their convivial union the two of them become ‘one flesh.’ Oddly, that unusual term remains unexplained. It is a riddle that plays on the paradox that, in this case, one plus one is one. While the focus of this saying is on the body, it includes the whole person. It alludes to their physical union in marital cohabitation, their sexual union as husband and wife, and to their procreative union that results in the birth of a child as the foundation of a new family. Their two bodies become one flesh, even though they still remain separate from each other…They complement each other bodily in a common life where they are meant to work together as interdependent partners. Nothing could be more physical than that! Little could be more wonderful than that! Their marital, sexual union is the culmination of God’s creation of them as a man and woman.” (p. 34-35)
“These days, we usually envisage marriage as an intimate, personal relationship between a man and a woman who love each other. It is that! But it is also much more than that, because it involves the bodies of a man and a woman who not just interact with each other personally, but also cohabitate with each other in the same place. Like the home that they establish by their sexual union, it is a place for them to be with each other bodily, a physical state of being for them. So traditionally, marriage was called an estate, a divinely instituted order that provided a safe place for their sexual union to be protected, nurtured, and to thrive.” (p. 158)
May these words deepen your understanding of God’s precious gift of sex and marriage as His means of sustaining His creation. What a blessed gift and blessing God ordained in His of male and female and the one-flesh union of marriage!
Prayer – Most gracious God, we give thanks for the joy and blessings that You grant to husbands and wives through gift of marriage. Assist them always by Your grace that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep their marriage vows, grow in love toward You and for each other, and come at last to the eternal joys that You have promised; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan