“THEY TWO SHALL BE ONE FLESH”
By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
The institution of the home and the family traces its origin to the heart of God.
When God created Adam, he was the only one of his kind, with a miraculous genetic system that has functioned well through the millennia since that long ago day. Adam was a genius; one example was his ability to give names to each of the animals of God’s creation (Genesis 2:19). But “for Adam a helper was not found” who could quench his loneliness (Genesis 2:20).
To remedy Adam’s lack of companionship God created Eve, a woman with a genetic system unique to women but compatible to Adam, and gave her to Adam. When Adam saw her the first time, he said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). The first wedding was conducted by God Himself in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, the heart of God was delighted with this first couple. They were assigned to dress and keep the garden and they did it without guilt or shame (Genesis 2:15).
In the first marriage before Adam’s sin, God developed the authority structure for the home and family, and the plan is as good to this day as it was in Eden. Adam was created first. He became the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3). Eve was created second and came from Adam’s side. She was the same flesh as Adam, suggesting companionship and partnership. Adam and Eve carried the same DNA that is basic to all human beings. Adam’s genetic system made him a mature man and Eve’s made her a mature woman.
Eve was not created to be Adam’s slave, nor was Adam her dictator. The woman was to be at Adam’s side, a helper so close to him they are described as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:20-24). Each was good for the other, and neither could be completely fulfilled alone.
This understanding of “oneness of flesh” has always undergirded the institution of marriage. “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
In the beauty of married love as ordained by God before the fall, Adam became the father of the human family and Eve the mother of all living. Adam’s desire was for Eve, and Eve’s for Adam. Adam was her provider and protector, and Eve was Adam’s helper.
But that was about to change.
Adam and Eve made choices to sin against God, and the curse of sin came into the world. The penalty for their sins extended to marriage. To this day so many unfulfilled women hunger for their husband’s confidence and affirmation. But instead of a wife enjoying true fulfillment many men through the centuries have responded by wanting to be controllers (Genesis 3:16).
Adam and Eve ceased to be perfect partners and companions in their marriage union after they sinned against God. The result was Eve’s sorrow greatly multiplied. This is illustrated in her painful travail to bring forth and rear children (Genesis 3:16). As for Adam, the ground was cursed for his sake, causing him to earn his living by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:17-19).
Since Adam’s fall, the institution of marriage and the family has been threatened, putting its very survival at stake. Even today all too many men relate to their wives as objects to be ruled and not as partners to be cherished. The family is God’s primary institution for building societies and even nations, but everywhere we look so many families are broken and are living under the power of the sin curse.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus penned Jesus’ provision to redeem the family. A husband has roles to fill in a marriage and a wife does too. In their relationship with each other, they are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
Jesus Christ is the cure to this day for the curse of sin that destroys so many marriages.
Paul taught the believers in Ephesus God’s plan for wives and husbands. Wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, “for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:22-23). God’s plan for authority in the home begins with the husband and then flows to the wife (Ephesians 5:24). But her submission is not to be offered out of fear of reprisal. Rather, it is to proceed joyfully and freely, by choice, from a mutual love that is based in the indwelling Holy Spirit, for they twain are “one flesh.”
Husbands and wives need to be filled with the Spirit who will guide them in the ups and downs of their relationship (Ephesians 5:18).
The Biblical plan for the home is straightforward and demanding for the wife, and equally challenging for the husband. Adam’s role was to cherish Eve, rewarding her faithful submission. He was responsible to motivate love from her because of his own love for her. Paul said husbands are to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). In fact, a husband is to love his wife as his own body. If a man does not love his wife, Paul taught, he does not even love himself; rather, he hates himself (Ephesians 5:28-29). Paul reached this conclusion because he comprehended ever since the first wedding in Eden, God’s plan has been for husband and wife to be one flesh in a unity of “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
Will any man go to war and fight against his own flesh?
The point is obvious. It will not be difficult for a wife to love her husband and submit to his leadership, when the husband cherishes his wife with the same love with which Christ Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:21).
It is in the loveliness of this plan that we discover God’s redemptive solution for husbands and wives in the institution of marriage.
I will love you my sweetheart,
And cherish you forever,
A gift from God ever special,
In youth and till death parts us.