To become “one flesh”…is to become “one person.” Male and female marriage partners not only make an exact “fit” sexually, but their maleness and femaleness “fill out” or “complete” one another in every respect. The two constitute a “whole.”
The man and his wife become one flesh (Gen 2:24). Together they form one complete unit. As they come together physically, intellectually, emotionally, there is a wholeness that did not exist before. They are fused into one.
As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 178.
Marriage itself is consummated with the literal bodily union of husband and wife. From that point on, the husband should regard the wife as his own flesh. If she hurts, he ought to feel the pain. If she has needs, he should embrace those needs as his own. He should seek to feel what she feels, desire what she desires, and in effect, give her the same care and consideration he gives his own body.
In marriage a man and woman are so closely joined that they become “one flesh,” which involves spiritual as well as physical oneness. In marriage God brings a husband and wife together in a unique physical and spiritual bond that reaches to the very depths of their souls. As God designed it, marriage is to be the welding of two people together into one unit, the blending of two minds, two wills, two sets of emotions, two spirits. It is a bond the Lord intends to be indissoluble as long as both partners are alive. The Lord created sex and procreation to be the fullest expression of that oneness, and the intimacies of marriage are not to be shared with any other human being.
In God’s eyes [the married couple becomes] the total possession of each other, one in mind and spirit, in goals and direction, in emotion and will. When they have a child it becomes the perfect emblem and demonstration of their oneness, because that child is a unique product of the fusion of two people into one flesh and carries the combined traits of both parents.
When two people know, accept, and fulfill their varying but complementary responsibilities, oneness in marriage is promoted.
According to the Bible, the marriage act is more than a physical act. It is an act of sharing. It is an act of communion. It is an act of total self-giving wherein the husband gives himself completely to the wife, and the wife gives herself to the husband in such a way that the two actually become one flesh.
Indeed, the marriage act is the symbol or culmination of a more complete oneness, of a total giving of yourself to another person. Consequently, if the more complete oneness is not a reality, sexual relations lose their meaning.
Becoming one flesh is a broad concept involving the totality of life. The context of Genesis 2 and the teaching of the rest of the Bible about marriage demand this. At the same time, it is generally recognized that there is no place where this total sharing is more beautifully pictured or fully experienced than in the sexual relationship of the man and his wife.
Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act; it is a symbol of a spiritual relationship and the expression of the complete oneness of two persons in married love… It is…the means by which they are confirmed and nourished in that union. Sexual intercourse is the physical establishment and confirmation of that oneness. The true dignity of sex is in its ability to enhance this personal unity between two persons who have committed themselves to each other in love and marriage. In sexual intercourse the couple becomes joined in an indissoluble unity, called in the Bible “one flesh” (Dwight Small).
All Christian men and women supernaturally have the positional unity Jesus prayed for in John seventeen. If they are husband and wife, they are also united by God into “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The Hebrew word for “one” is echad which means “one, alike, altogether, or all at once.” The very same word is used in Deuteronomy 6:4 for “the Lord is one.” In other words, somehow God makes the husband and wife into “one” as the Trinity is one, a compound unity.
The Excellent Wife, Focus Publishing Incorporated, p. 28. Get this book!
The goal of the Christian husband and wife in their marriage is to have a oneness that is characterized by a loving spiritual and physical bond that glorifies God and thereby enhances personal spiritual growth (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:22-33; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 13:4). Oneness and spiritual growth are achieved as each partner helps the other become as much like the Lord Jesus Christ as possible. This spiritual growth and oneness in marriage does not happen by chance. It happens in direct proportion to how diligent a couple is in pursuing it.
The Excellent Wife, Focus Publishing Incorporated, p. 34. Get this book!
Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church.
When a couple speaks their vows, it is not a man or a woman or a pastor or parent who is the main actor – the main doer. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. The world does not know this. Which is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually. And Christians often act like they don’t know it, which is one of the reasons marriage in the church is not seen as the wonder it is. Marriage is God’s doing because it is a one-flesh union that God Himself performs.
This Momentary Marriage – A Parable of Permanence, Desiring God Foundation, 2008, p. 23, www.DesiringGod.org.
The biblical union of two people into one flesh did not involve the annihilation of personal identity. The unity of marriage is not to be monistic but a unity in duality.