“One Flesh” In Marriage

One Flesh in MarriageWhat does it mean to be one flesh in a marriage?

(Genesis 2:21-24) “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought unto the man.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

The term “one flesh” means that even as your body is one “whole” and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a “whole,” so this is how God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (two individuals), but now there is one entity (a married couple). There are a number of aspects to this new union. It has always been God’s intention for a married couple to remain one unit until death parts them (Matthew 19:6).

When divorce occurs, you no longer have two “wholes” but rather two halves that have been ripped apart. As far as emotional attachments are concerned, the new unit takes precedence over all previous and future relationships (Genesis 2:24a). Some marriage partners continue to place greater weight upon ties with parents than with their new partner…this is a recipe for disaster in the marriage and a perversion of God’s original intention of “leaving and cleaving.”

A similar problem can develop when a spouse begins to draw closer to a child to meet emotional needs rather than to the other partner. Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and in every other way, the couple is to become one (and even as one part of the body cares for the other body parts, the brain directs the body for the good of the whole, the hands work for the sake of the body, etc), so each partner of the marriage is to show like care for the other and for the family as a whole.

Each partner is no longer to see money earned as “my” money but now as the “family’s” money. And one’s pursuit is not to be what I want to do with my time and my money, but is to be what I need to do for the sake of my spouse and family. Ephesians 5:22-33 and Proverbs 31:10-31 give the application of this “oneness” to the role of the husband and to the wife respectively.

This oneness and this pursuit of the benefit of the other is not automatic. The man, in Genesis 2:24, is told to “cleave” to his wife. The word has two ideas behind it. One is to be “glued” to his wife, a picture of how tight the marriage bond is to be. The other aspect is to “pursue hard after” the wife. This “pursuing hard after” is to go beyond the courtship leading to marriage and is to continue throughout the marriage.

The fleshly tendency is to “do what feels good to me” rather than to consider what will benefit the spouse. And this self-centeredness is the rut that marriages commonly fall into once the “honeymoon is over.” Instead of each spouse dwelling upon how his or her needs are not being met, they are to remain focused on meeting the needs of their spouse.

Unfortunately, justified self-centeredness (“it is okay for me to focus on myself because of what my spouse is or is not doing”) often takes over in a number of marriage relationships. But as nice as it may be for two people to live together meeting each other’s needs, God has a higher calling for the marriage.

Even as they were to be serving Christ with their lives before marriage, now they are to serve Christ together as a unit. As a couple pursues serving Christ together, the joy which the Spirit gives will fill their marriage. Without God, a lasting oneness will not be possible.

Related Posts:

What Does it Mean to “Leave and Cleave?”
The Art of a Good Marriage
How to Be a Good Step-Parent
How to Fight Fair in Marriage
How to Be a Good Mother-In-Law
How to Get Along With the In-Laws
Taking Care of Aging Parents as a Family
Keeping the Fire Alive in Your Marriage
How to Spice Up Your Marriage

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5 Responses to ““One Flesh” In Marriage”

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  1. I really appreciate your thoughts on “cleaving to” your spouse.

    Often in any relationship, the familiar becomes taken for granted. For whatever reason, many people tend to do the same thing in their relationship with God as in their relationship with their spouse. It becomes easy to tell yourself, “I’m going to church, that’s good enough for this week – I’ll get to the Bible next week.”

    However, it’s even worse in a marriage because our spouse might not be there “next week.”

    It takes a giving spirit to work as hard as we should to continue pursuing our spouse throughout the marriage, but that’s the real commitment we make when we marry.

    Thanks for giving me these ideas to think about!

  2. Lin says:

    Hi Bill, you are absolutely right. Many, if not most, couples have the tendency to take each other for granted over a period of time. Then one day one looks at the other and wonders “where is the man/wife I married?”

    What it means to leave and cleave in marriage is something I believe should be including in any and all marriage talks, including during the wedding ceremony.

    That is a perfect time to make clear to family members, parents especially, that this new couple must break the umbilical cord to the parents in order for their marriage to be successful.

    Too many parents, including those that are elderly, seem to forget that in any marriage, the couple is required by God to put each other in FIRST place, over and above all others.

    That’s often where conflicts between mother-in-law/father-in-law and their daughter-in-law/son-in-law begins, and while these newly married couples strive to build their marriage, they are often inundated with pressures from parents on both sides of the family to do things how the parents want it done rather than the couple choosing for themselves.