So sorry for the long delay. Many crazy things happening in my life and ministry and well, this could be a fairly controversial post. I wanted to get it right. Feel free to comment. And so………..
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[a] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib[b] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. -Genesis 2:21-25 NIV
No definition of marriage would be complete or accurate without a discussion of the concept of becoming one flesh. This a seemingly simple statement that is wrapped around an enigma. Most of us would agree that there is a mingling of the human spirit that occurs within marriage which implies a strict, spiritual interpretation. Honestly, it appeals to me on many levels because of my romantically addicted heart. I have ever wanted to spiritualize marriage and make it this high and holy thing; and it is, but maybe not in the way we think it is.
We are to partner and grow close and act as one unit, being, family. We never lose our individuality, however. If the point of marriage was to eliminate the two individuals in favor of the ‘one flesh’ it would be ridiculous, I mean, I was already an individual. Or perhaps it means that single people who are called to be married are weaker because they are somehow ‘incomplete’ without a mate. Again, my romantic soul finds that appealing: “You complete me.” But I know too many single folks who are strong, wise and together.
This presents a lot of problems. If we are one, and one of us is a Christian, are both of us now redeemed? Some would say this verse says that but does it? That flies in the face of individual choice and responsibility. And if we became one spiritually, are we then joined in Heaven? Maybe that’s why no one is actually married in Heaven, we are already one person. Difficult to answer and impossible to produce.
What if the answer is much simpler? What if we can’t see it because we have some wrong ideas? What if our culture was so messed up in it’s thinking about some part of marriage, like sex for example, that we can’t see straight? Am I implying that our culture has a problem dealing with sex correctly? Yes, of course I am.
The years that I was a youth minister spanned several different winds of doctrine concerning sex. The first was the ‘just say no’ phase, which accidentally equated pre-marital sex with drug use. Maybe it wasn’t an accident, people can get really stupid. Then came Josh McDowell’s “Why Wait?” campaign which was healthier as it gave kids a list of deterrent concepts and promised better marriage relationships and sex within those relationships if they would wait. It was good, but not strong enough to overcome teen hormones and the emotionally super-charged closeness of Christian kids who were emulating strong spiritual marriages at 16 and 17. Then came ‘True Love Waits’ a beautiful idea based on spiritual purity, which also led to the anti-dating movement. The problem here was in implementation. You can’t offer a time of public decision for purity and expect that fourteen year old girls with giant manly fathers were going to make a real covenant decision. How could she talk to her Dad later and explain that “she hadn’t decided about purity just yet?” Ridiculous and costly because so many young men and women forswore themselves without thinking and then carried the added guilt of that decision within themselves. “Not only am I a whore, but I am a lying whore!” A sure fire way to chase them out of the church.
The real problem with all these movements was that it left out one very important biblical point. Sex is not a privilege of the married, sex is marriage.
I’ll let you think on that for a moment………….
If you quit over-spiritualizing the language, and leave off with the puritan demonization of sex, and frankly, check your guilt at the door, the two becoming one flesh becomes a lot easier to understand. Now before you get all freaked out, I did not say that marriage was ONLY sex! I could have saved myself several blogposts if that were true. But there is a reason that the act of sex is considered the consummation of the marriage. I plan on writing more about sexuality later but for now it should be enough to say that sex is the only act that involves our body, emotions, and soul and then unites them with another. God took Eve out of Adam and the two long to be rejoined in some way. Genesis acknowledges the marriage of Adam and Eve in the same sentence that it acknowledges them having sex.
The biblical proof that sex co-mingles our spiritual selves is found in this verse about avoiding prostitutes.—Somehow our spiritual nature is shared during sex; another mystery, but it explains much. Sex addicts and other folks with a history of multiple partners, monogamous or not, carry a certain amount of mental and emotional burdens that other folks don’t carry. Could it be because of the consistent loss of becoming one with several people and then losing those relationships? We should be teaching our kids not that sex is reserved for marriage, but that it is a defining part of marriage. One flesh indeed.
I realize that some people will feel like I am cheapening marriage with this concept, but the only way this concept can cheapen marriage is if our view of sex is cheap. Mine is not. Sex is a beautiful and amazing gift and a mystery of the spirit. Sex is central to marriage because sex is marriage.
So becoming one is the goal, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, without losing our individuality. Sex is the first and best tool in the tool box for making it happen.