They will become one flesh
This is part two of a multi-part series on God’s purpose for marriage. Read the first part.
It’s no secret that popular culture frowns on Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. In American entertainment, business, media, politics, and courts, the prevailing view is that marriage is an optional “extra” for romantic partners that quickly proves awkward and restrictive when it lasts longer. than emotion. In the minds of many, marriage is an outdated artefact of outdated social conditions and inhibits the self-expression, tolerance and liberation expected in the 21st century. The Bible’s view of marriage as a union of one man and one woman for life has become so incomprehensible in America and throughout Western culture that it is considered downright offensive.
Many Christians are influenced by the negative view of marriage in our culture, and not for the better. But we don’t have to listen to the lies of the culture; we have the Word of God, which is the truth. The Bible says a lot about marriage, depicting it in such glorious splendor that the flashy counterfeits of the world seem bleak in comparison. Every Christian can afford to spend more time disconnecting from the world and listening to the Word of God. This series aims to examine God’s good purpose for marriage by taking God’s Word itself as our guide.
This series began by looking at Genesis 1:26-31, where God created “male and female.” This second episode will examine Genesis 2:24.
Moses wrote Genesis for the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Genesis describes God’s promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the beginnings of God’s relationship with mankind.
In Genesis 2, Moses recounts in more detail the creation of male and female on the sixth day of creation (which he had summarized in the first chapter). Moses has theological purposes to hold a microscope to God creating mankind with this second account, some of which relates to marriage.
In Genesis 2:24, Moses summarizes the first marriage in history by explaining:Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and they will become one flesh.The importance of this statement to understanding God’s purpose for marriage is emphasized in the New Testament by Jesus (Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31). Both cite this verse to support marriage.
Thus, we learn that this verse is not a blurry line in a quaint fable, nor an archaic notion that died out with the old covenant. Rather, Genesis 2:24 contains a transcendent and timeless principle of God’s created order that still applies to us today. As such, this verse deserves careful study.
Firstnotice the prescriptive language in the verbs: “will go…and hold on” and “will become.” Unlike the narrative portions of Genesis, which describe actions and events, this verse commands the covenant of marriage. Every human being is morally responsible to this formula.
Second, the man takes the initiative to leave his parents and become attached to his wife. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to write: “a woman will leave her father and her mother and will stick to her husband”. He did not do it. In the context of Genesis 2 (which we’ll explore in the next part of this series), this is intentional, and it contains the seeds of both “distinctions in male and female roles” and “Adam’s leadership”. in marriage,” as the Danvers Statement asserts. These biblical principles, which our culture hates, reflect the beauty and wisdom of God’s good purpose for marriage. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them.
The third, the man must leave his parents. This does not mean that he should abandon them, for that would dishonor them (Exodus 20:12), but his relationship with his parents should change. He and his wife are a new and distinct family unit. A man’s wife replaces his parents as his main relationship priority. Of the many ways to apply this, perhaps the most suited to our cultural context is that men must leave their parents’ house before they marry. A man who cannot function independently of his parents or manage a household alone is not yet fit to marry. To single men looking for a woman, finding a job, finding an apartment, paying some bills and getting dressed. Show that you are responsible enough to make a woman feel safe under your direction.
Fourth, the man must cling to his wife. Older translations used the word “cleave” (hence the phrase “depart and cleave”). Tim Keller explains in The meaning of marriage, “it’s a Hebrew word that literally means to be stuck to something.” Marriage unites a man and a woman more closely than any other natural bond. As centuries of marriage vows have recognized (“as long as we both live”), marriage is for life (see Romans 7:2). This close, intimate, and exclusive relationship provides an opportunity for mutual support, encouragement, friendship, responsibility, guidance, and sanctification like no other human relationship. Marriage represents Jesus, our “friend closer than brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Fifth, the man and his wife will become one flesh. This sentence is not easy to explain. How, exactly, can two people become one flesh? If that seems impossible for humans to achieve, it is. But Jesus helps us to understand that it is not the work of God. After quoting Genesis 2:24, Jesus applies it in “commentary that explodes like thunder with the glory of marriage,” says John Piper in This temporary marriage. “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9). Piper continues, “When a couple takes their vows, it’s not a man or a woman or a pastor or a parent who is the main actor, the main actor. God is. God unites a husband and a wife in a union of one flesh. Every marriage is a covenant, an exchange of vows before God, made and enforced by God. Because God makes a marriage, “it is not in the power of man to destroy,” Piper says.
Violations of the marital bond receive frequent and severe condemnations throughout the Bible. Jesus himself quotes Genesis 2:24, in conjunction with Genesis 1:27, to condemn divorce. Adultery is forbidden by the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). Jesus added, “Anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The author of the book of Hebrews exhorted his readers: “Let marriage be honored by all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge harlots and adulterers” (Hebrews 13:4). Hundreds of other scriptures could be added to this list. The point is clear: because God ordained marriage as part of his good purpose, he takes it seriously and he has commanded us to honor it. Thus, we are to obey his commands and honor marriage “both out of love and out of fear” (Deuteronomy 13:3-4).
More about marriage can be told from the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 2:24, and future parts of this series will explore it further.
But what should be perfectly clear – and what all the teachings of the Bible are based on – is that marriage is a covenant relationship between husband and wife, which is designed and brought about by God Himself. Marriage is not a social construct to be discarded on a whim, but a lifelong moral duty, overseen by its holy creator, God.
Read part three.