In a former article we looked at the idea that marriage is God’s design. A biblical perspective is that marriage is critical in two basic ways:
. . . a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Marriage “Oneness” is important. It is part of God’s design for extending His kingdom.
We said before that engaged couples are generally in love with each other, and they typically marry because they are fascinated with the relationship. In this there is a “Good News / Bad News” situation.
The “Good News” is the good relationship. When we as a couple are in love, the relationship is a genuine benefit and enjoyment in life. And not only is the connection a source of enjoyment, it is also a source of help in life, and it provides a good environment for raising children. These things are actually a part of God’s design for marriage. The “Bad News” is that the love relationship can fail, and it is pretty typical. There tend to be times of conflict and disappointment, despite the fact that the man and woman were in love with each other.
There are basically two reasons for the failure of love in marriage. One is that we are both sinners. The second basic cause of failure in love is the fact that we are very different from each other. We grow up in different home situations, we have different personalities, and we have different perspectives and different forms of communication. All of that causes us to have a hard time relating to each other.
So what does this have to do with the idea that marriage is about unity, and the unity in marriage is part of God’s design for His kingdom? One reason is that marriage is not ultimately about us or about our enjoyment. The larger reason for marriage is that we have a calling to do God’s will. That is what we want to see in the idea of “unity” or “oneness” in marriage.
Genesis 2:24 talks about a husband and wife being “one flesh.” The two spouses are “one.” Then in 2:25 it talks about the lack of shame over nakedness. This is a combination of both reality and illustration. The reality is that a husband and wife are not embarrassed by their own physical bodies, but also not by the other’s. The illustration of it is that, as we get to know each other thoroughly, we are not embarrassed by ourselves or the other. In other words, a profound connection and knowledge of each other leads to unity, not embarrassment or frustration.
So, how is this important to God’s design? The primary answer is that any unity is a display of God inside of us. In John 17:11, 20-23, Jesus prayed for unity. The focus of His prayer was for a unity between the believers. His point was that the unities would display God.
John 17:21, 23
21 . . . they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
23 . . . they may be perfected in unity,
so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
The reason unity displays God is that we are sinners and we struggle over unity - with anyone. But God’s instruction is that we do not have any conflict with anyone. Matthew 5:38-47 and Luke 6:27-36 are very emphatic on this. Another good reference is Philippians 2:1-11. Here are verses 3-5:
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
To have any kind of unity we must first give ourselves to God. If we give ourselves to God, then we are not pursuing ourselves. Therefore, when there is unity of any kind it a sign that God is inside of us, and that is what creates the unity. So when we have unity in marriage - when we are “one flesh” - it is because we have dedicated ourselves to God and we are relying on God, not on ourselves, and that displays the existence of God inside of us.
We are actually displaying God to ourselves and to our spouses. But also to our children. Beyond those two primary areas of display we are also displaying God to family members and to church members, and possibly to friends and neighbors who see us well enough.
Does it matter whether we are in love with each other in marriage?
Yes! It matters! It is not acceptable to pursue what our feelings or flesh leads to. Instead, since we believe in God, we are to focus on unity - or “oneness” - in marriage. When we give ourselves to God we can give ourselves to each other. And when we give ourselves to each other it reveals God inside of us.
It is a blessing that when we accomplish that we also begin to experience contentment and joy!
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry
God Ordained Family Unit