Marriage is one of those subjects people can't really feel neutral about. All of us have our views about marriage, for whatever reason. Some of you who read this are recently married, others are looking forward to marriage; some of us are in the mid-years of marriage, married 15-35 years, while still others are celebrating 50-plus years together.
Some of you have never married; maybe some wish they would have never married; still others were married and lost your spouse and remarried or decided not to remarry. So we've had a variety of experiences around marriage.
Marriage is that relationship that has become fodder for a lot of jokes, sarcasm, and grief. Here are a couple of good ones I’ve heard:
● We were visiting friends when they received a telephone call from their recently married daughter. After several tense minutes on the phone, the mother told the father to pick up the extension. The newlyweds had had their first big fight. In a few moments, the father rejoined us and tersely explained, "Our daughter said she wanted to come home.” “What did you tell her?" I asked. The father replied: “Simple. I told her she was home."
● Or this one (Told by a woman): Soon after our last child left home for college, my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses: "You know, honey," I said sweetly, "without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married." "Honey," he replied with a grin, "without my glasses you still look pretty good, too!"
In the Bible, the concept or term used to portray and describe marriage is "one flesh." Genesis 2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." So what does "one flesh" really mean?
First of all, it’s important to understand the context of this Genesis passage. Just what was happening here?
The time is as far back as one can go! God had just finished creation not long before this passage in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God had placed Adam, the first man, in the Garden of Eden. But Adam was alone and God was about to do something about that; God says: "I will make a helper suitable for him." So God performs a special creation - woman – and she was taken out of the man and brought to Adam. What a time that must have been! Adam recognizes the woman as part of him, yet distinctly different.
What is the meaning of "one flesh"? what's interesting to note is that when Jesus quotes these same words in Matt.19 he ascribes them to God, the Creator ("at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man will leave...'") So what's the meaning here?
● Leave - a new family unit is established. A man doesn't stay under the custody of his parents, nor the woman of hers, but the two leave their families of origin, their parents, and establish a new family unit. Problems arise in marriages when this leaving doesn't happen.
● Cleave (KJV) or "be united" emotionally, physically, spiritually. There is so much focus today on sexual fulfillment, and there's a place for that, but I contend that if a couple is becoming one spiritually, emotionally, the physical union - sexual union - will take care of itself, and be great!
● One flesh - marriage is oneness - in purpose, goals, spiritually, serving the Lord together, growing together toward Christ, one sexually. The two retain their individuality, but in marriage there is an overarching commitment to oneness, spiritually, emotionally and physically.In my next blog entry I will talk more about honoring the gift of sex in marriage.
Tom Horst, Therapist
New Hope Community Life Ministry