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What does it mean to be one flesh in marriage? The Hebrew word "ba-sar" for flesh carries a number of synonyms in Hebrew thought. In its basic meaning it refers to human beings (Genesis 7:21). It can also refer to humanity in its nature apart from the divine. In the New Testament, the word "flesh" commonly refers to the sinful nature (Gal 5:17). The context of Genesis 2:21-23 suggests that flesh means human nature or essence. Adam refers to Eve as "flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones" to imply that she was in every nature and essence as he was. When Scripture speaks of Adam and Eve being one flesh, it implies that they were united emotionally intimately and spiritually. The cleaving is a process that brings together two people who are essentially different in experience and background so that they can share the oneness of common thought and purpose in marriage. In Adam's case, the couple did not have a "background" as couples would. Theirs was a perfect union based on the innocence and moral purity that God had made of them. There is so much to learn and unlearn in a marriage relationships so that we can fit into one another. Of course there will never be a perfect marriage except that of Christ and His church in which the bride (the church) will be spotless and the groom (Christ) is divine (Revelation 19:7-9). Unlike "worldly" marriages the Christian marriage operates on compromises that each partner seeks from and offers to the other based on the fear of the Lord. It means we learn to tolerate one another and admonish one another in love. All things become common to us including our bodies so that we shall not unduly deny each other sexually or use sex as a weapon to settle scores or blackmail the other. The wife is to submit to the husband (1Peter 3:1-7).The submission of the wife is based on the teaching of Scripture and her obedience to the Lord who gives her the spiritual grace to do it out of joy. The man is to loves his wife (Eph. 5:28). The oneness also comes from our shared spiritual heritage. We are all God's children and one day we shall appear before Him and it may be required of us to account how we have used or abused this institution of privilege. If there is oneness in our marriage, there will be unity of thought as concerns matters of our worldview. This does not mean that we shall not hold opposing views on areas such as children, investments, finance and even moderations but it means whenever we sit down to discuss our common issues, we shall be the grace of God find common ground by which we each agree to abide. The man is to view the wife not as an asset or an object of use but as a suitable companion whom God has provided and will therefore cherish her with tendernesss. The couple should hold each other in utmost esteem. The unity or oneness also means the relationship is to be exclusive. There is no basis to seek satisfaction outside the marriage or abandon the other even in moments of great distress. God says in Malachi 2:15 "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth." He hates divorce! (Malachi 2:16). In the New Testament, Paul gives explicit teaching on the unity of the marriage relationship and equates it with the unity and love Christ has for His Church. He teaches that the man is to love the wife even as Christ loved the church. In Ephesians 5:29 says "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:" Finally, the unity and oneness of the marriage must persist even if the couple is not blessed with children. A marriage is complete with or without children.
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