Written by C. Michael Patton |
Sunday, November 5, 2023
Beyond the physical aspect, many believe it refers to the deep emotional and spiritual bond that forms between a married couple. This bond is characterized by love, trust, understanding, and a shared life. This bond is only realized through the radical transparency that a married couple has, both physically and emotionally.
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)
What does it mean to become “one flesh”?
- Physical Union:
On a straightforward level, it can refer to the physical union between a husband and wife, particularly sexual intimacy, which is a unique aspect of the marital relationship. Since Eve was created from Adam as a helper “suitable” or “according to” him, she represents the part of him that he lacks, or cannot be on his own. The sexual diversity between a man and a woman brings about an act of the fulfillment of the mystical union that is necessary for man to be God’s image bearer.
- Emotional and Spiritual Bond:
Beyond the physical aspect, many believe it refers to the deep emotional and spiritual bond that forms between a married couple. This bond is characterized by love, trust, understanding, and a shared life. This bond is only realized through the radical transparency that a married couple has, both physically and emotionally. It should be the most veridical of all relationships. Allen Ross says, “Such fellowship was shattered later at the Fall and is retained only in a measure in marriage when a couple begins to feel at ease with each other” (Genesis 2:18–25, BKC, 1985).
- Covenant Relationship:
Marriage in the Bible is often depicted as a covenant—a deeply binding promise or agreement. “Becoming one flesh” can be understood as the merging of two lives in such a covenant, implying a lifelong commitment and deep unity. This characteristic is often the most alluded to as it is (or should be) evident in the vows and brings commencement to all aspects of the one-flesh marital relationship. While God gives no instructions on the particular consummation details a marriage must include, a study of natural theology through the history of marriage finds two elements necessary for a marital bond between a man and woman to be licit. 1) A covenant that expresses lifelong commitment to the marriage and 2) a public announcement of the covenant.