In a former article we looked at the idea that unity in marriage is a form of displaying God. We also made a reference to Genesis 2:24-25:
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.
What we will see here is two basic ideas:
1. Oneness in marriage is biblical. It is not about our happiness in marriage; it is about God’s calling and purpose.
2. Oneness in marriage is difficult and requires a focus on God and understanding some specific steps to make it work.
So, first, let’s see what we mean about the idea that oneness in marriage is biblical versus personal pursuits of happiness and enjoyment in marriage. Genesis 2:24 is part of God first message to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-28 is the other first reference). When we see that marriage is the very first thing that God spoke about to humans, it indicates that marriage is God’s critical issue. We saw in the last article that divorce is not a biblical acceptance, and we saw also that non-marriage ideas like cohabitation or sex are also unbiblical ideas. We always want to know whether we are pursuing personal ideas of God’s instructions, and marriage is one of God’s callings to us.
Marriage actually tends to be a personal goal, versus God’s design and calling. We tend to marry because we fell in love. But then, over time, the feelings of love tend to become difficult. So there are many divorces because we want a sense of happiness in marriage. The reason this is a problem before God is that trusting Christ as Savior moves us over to a life that is God’s, not ours.
So to have oneness in marriage, we have to be committed to God versus committed to our personal desires. And being committed first to God, our next step is commitment to a spouse. Being committed to our spouse we are unconcerned about our own happiness – we are concerned only about accomplishing God’s calling.
This is why a marriage oneness displays God. When we are not focused on self, but on God and on the needs of others (especially the needs of a spouse), then God is visible inside our hearts. That displays God to our family members (including our children) that we are bowed before God. And that is a display of what it means to be a believer. Marriage oneness is a way of displaying God before the world because the oneness is a result of bowing before God.
So this leads us to the second point, that marriage is difficult and requires a focus on God and specific steps to make the marriage work.
Marriage is difficult almost 100% of the time. Every marriage is having various kinds of troubles. There are probably two basic reasons for difficulty in marriage.
a. We are both sinners. And being sinners, we tend to focus on our own flesh and our own desires.
b. We are different people.
- We have different home backgrounds and that affects the way we grow up.
- We have different personalities and different ways of talking and doing things.
These things cause us to struggle with “oneness.” First, unless we give ourselves before God, we will not see the idea of a personal sacrifice to our spouse. Second, unless we understand some steps we will not know what to do, even if we are submissive to God.
Here are some things for us to do to have oneness.
We need to communicate with each other. This calls us to combine honesty of our thoughts and feelings, but communication without any conflict at all. That is, we are transparent about our thoughts and feelings and we don’t just keep those things to our self. But when we do express them we do it without conflict or accusation, or even emotions.
Each of us serves the other versus self. A husband is called by God to be a leader in the marriage (Ephesians 5:22-24 and 25-27). But his leadership is a form of service to his wife (5:25). A wife is called to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33). But her submission to him is a way of doing two things. First, she is his “helper” (Genesis 2:18); and second, her submission is something that helps him be close to God (1 Peter 3:1-2).
We apologize and ask forgiveness when we know we have done the wrong thing, And we tolerate with the other’s wrongness and we forgive even when the other does not apologize (Ephesians 4:2-3, Colossians 3:12-17).
We practice a spiritual relationship with God. This includes attending worship together, but it also includes praying together often plus doing Bible-study together.
It may be that we will also gain greater oneness if we engage in marriage ministry resources. FamilyLife provides Weekend to Remember annually and it is very good. Also available from FamilyLife are Art of Marriage and Marriage Oneness – each of those is a video-series for a small group. Go online at www.familylife.com
Another resource in Richmond is the organization First Things First, which provides several resources. Go online at www.firstthingsrichmond.org/
There are also many books on marriage. One is Tom Clark’s book, God’s Grand Design for Marriage. (Available in Amazon.com)
Here is a closing thought on the idea of oneness in marriage – Genesis 2:24-25. In verse 24 God calls a husband to “leave” his parents and “cleave” to his wife, and the two of them are to become “one flesh.” The “one flesh” idea is physical, but that physical oneness is two things: A display of oneness and an addition to oneness. We are called not only to be physically connected, but also relationally connected.
Next take a look at verse 25. Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.” The idea is that not just that we were unembarrassed about our physical appearances – no matter what either of us looks like – but we are also unembarrassed when we have oneness through transparency. In other words, we share our thoughts lovingly while we are honest and open. And we are unembarrassed over the way the other is. We accept each other. When we do this we are bowing ourselves before God, we are committed to God, and we are committed to each other.
Marriage oneness as the result of submission to God actually leads us to genuine oneness –
– and to happiness in marriage!
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry and on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Christian Alliance.