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“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).
This kind of union is both a mystery and a practical reality. Though you cannot fully understand what a one-flesh partnership means, you can functionally and faithfully participate in a one-flesh marriage while enjoying its benefits. Before two people make a one-flesh covenant (agreement) with God, they were two individuals belonging to different family units.
At some point after meeting, they realized that being with each other was worth leaving their respective families to set-up their unique autonomous domestic empire. A family is not just when a couple has children, but when a couple is married. The first family unit was Adam and Eve. They later added children to their family unit. This newly formed family of two agreed they would honor, cherish, love, and serve each other until death separated their one-flesh union.
At the beginning of any marital covenant, the couple, for the most part, are two different entities. Though “on paper” they are one flesh under God and before the world, they are yet unable to enjoy all the benefits of being one flesh fully. With time, grace, community, and intentionality, it will be possible for them to mature into a God-husband-wife harmonic union.
Not able to entirely enjoy what it means to be one flesh is similar to our relationship with the Lord. After your second birth (John 3:7), you received everything (2 Peter 1:3) needed to be Christlike (Ephesians 4:22-24). But the functional working out (Philippians 2:12) of the fullness that God intends for you to benefit takes a while to enjoy thoroughly (2 Peter 3:18). One flesh living is a lifelong journey. From your first introduction to your future separation at death, your lives should be an ever-unfolding mystery that incrementally reveals itself as you navigate the contours of life together.
The idea of living in a one-flesh marriage is like many petals on a flower that mature through time. It is an assimilation of mind, body, soul, spirit, emotions, will, strengths, weaknesses, and so forth. Here are some of the goals a married couple moves toward as they begin to mature into a practical one flesh union. Begin each descriptor below with, “We are one in…”
Desires, Passions, Affection for God, Parenting, Finances, Plans, Aspirations, Choices, Thoughts, Ideas, Words, Manners, Relationships, Tastes, Interpretations, Dreams, Friendships, Forgiveness, Humor, Confession, Hobbies, Expectations, Fun, Intimacy, Prayer
A man and a woman are different in many ways, particularly pertaining to their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and gifts. To be one flesh does not mean they are to be a carbon copy of each other. It means all of their positives and negatives, strengths and weaknesses, blend into a harmonious, God-centered, other-centered, one-flesh union.
What Adam was missing, Eve supplied. What Eve was missing, Adam provided. As gears perfectly meshing into each other to make the machine function at an optimal level, the husband and wife “mesh” into each other so they can present a God-glorifying symmetry. Being different does not have to displace unity. Because of the grace of God, your differences within your one-flesh union should create completeness and wholeness. Just like in the Trinity, there is a place for differences within the unity.