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Thursday: The “One Flesh” Model of Marriage — 9 Comments

  1. Most of us are familiar with symbiosis. It is where two organisms live together to gain some benefit. There are actually three forms of symbiosis: commensalism, parasitism, and mutualism.

    Commensalism is where one organism gains a benefit form the arrangement while the other remains unaffected. Epiphytic orchids are typical examples. They live on trees and typically feed on debris that collects between them and the tree. They do not affect the tree at all.

    Parasitism is where the two organisms live in a close relationship where one of the organisms benefits from the relationship to the detriment of the other. Mistletoe plants grow on trees but they draw their nourishment from the trees and give nothing in return. Ultimately if the infestation of mistletoe is high, they will kill the tree.

    Mutualism is where two organisms live together to one another's benefit. In Australia, we have Mistletoe Birds that feed mainly on Mistletoe berries. The Mistletoe Birds have a specialized gut that passes the seed through in about 15 minutes. It is deposited in a coating of glue that sticks the seed onto the branch. I have seen this happen and have photographed it. The bird gains its nutrients from the mistletoe plant and the plant benefits from the bird by having its seeds dispersed.

    There is actually another example of mutualism that is useful for this discussion. We are part of the mutualistic relationship with our gut organisms. These organisms depend on us to provide them with nutrients and in turn they help to break down our food so that we can absorb it. We are starting to realise that much of our health and well-being has to do with our relationship with our gut organisms.

    One flesh; the mutualistic relationship between husband and wife. We need to understand that the relationship is much more than just permission to have sex or to procreate. It's really about survival as a functioning unit. Just as our bodies cease to function if we destroy gut companions, so our relationship our marriage partner will not survive if we don't treat them with the same love and respect we treat ourselves.

    I know that some folk will think that our relationship with God does not fit the mutualistic model. Are we parasites using God for our own survival? Are we commensal, using God for support only so that we can survive? I submit that God needs us. Is it sacrilege to suggest that God needs us as much as we need him?

    I am not suggesting that our salvation is dependent on what we do. What I want to think about is how the mutualistic model can help us grow our relationship to Jesus.

  2. Where there is no direction, any direction may seem fitting. People are losing their identity. When I lose identity, my relationships lose identity, and my family, even my social circle, may be influenced. The problem with today's relationships (not to mention marriage only) relies on the individual loss of roots. Many people do not know where they come from and where they are going; their sense of belonging is extinct. Thus, some (experts) try to offer identity models different than the natural ones, and again, many people follow. People are losing their identity because their individuality is lost.

    Where do I find identity? Only where I recognize my dependence on the origin of all identity, the Creator. To have a meaningful identity is to rely on the basis of Love.

  3. Reading the passage in Genesis in today’s lesson, where God had Adam to name all of the animals just reinforced in my mind how God is not a control freak. God is not a micromanager. He delegates responsibility to others, and let’s them make their own decisions.

    • It showed respect and a willingness to cooperate with Adam when God brought the animals to Adam and let him name them. From what I can tell in Scripture God wants to be with us, but not dictate to us and tell us what to do on every decision.

      If God could treat Adam (His church at that time) with consideration why can’t spouses treat each other with respect as well?

      I would argue that in order to truly love and respect like God does we need to have the “new man”. 2 Corinthians 5:17

  4. Adam in Gen.2:23 declares that the women is: “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’, she was taken out of Man;” they were one flesh. I do not know how v.24 found its way into this account, but it appears to me that it is out of place.

    As I understand it, Man and Woman were already considered ‘one flesh’ because ‘woman’ was made from 'flesh' already present in Adam. This sets her apart from the other creatures which were made from the ‘ground’; therefore Man and Woman are considered to be one [of the same] flesh.

    I do not see these verses as a reference to their sexual relationship. Looking at the union of man and women from the ‘one flesh’ as considered in ‘species/type’, one can easily understand Eph.5:28-29. Using this same interpretation, man cannot find anything closer resembling himself than the 'women'; therefore he cannot really 'hate' her, because he does not hate himself.

    The Ekklesia, comprised of man and woman, is Jesus Christ's body. There is no difference based on gender. He admonishes everyone to ‘nourish and cherish’ each other as members of the same body, as He does the same for His Body - His Bride. Eph.5:29-30. Though we are separate in flesh He is one with us - we are one in Spirit with Him and therefore one in Spirit with each other.

    Commitment and integrity are essential to keeping the balance in the marriage ‘contract’. One could say that its success is based on the faithfulness that each party honors their promise, just as we have faith and hope and pray that Jesus Christ honors His promise to us.

    • Brigitte, I was also struck by the fact that Genesis portrays one flesh outside of a sexual union, which aligns beautifully with what Paul is saying in Ephesians. Therefore, I think verse 24 in Genesis should be understood as a description rather than a directive. In other words, because of what happened in the creation of man and woman is the reason (Biblical) marriage is the way it is.

      • Yes, Sarah and Kenny - I also considered that if one peals away the onion skins, one reveals the spiritual core of a marriage between man and woman. Both received the same spirit, both are of the same flesh, both are created equal in the eyes of their Creator and given the Breath of Life to know Him.
        Both are equipped to raise their children to honor the Image of God in their life and give Him praise.

    • Every word of God, as given, is absolutely necessary, as you have always indicated. (Matt 4:4; 1 Cor 1:17-25; 2:4-16). Gen 2:23 reveals the pair as of the “same” flesh, we might say. In v 24 it is through marriage they “become” one flesh. Being of the same flesh Adam considered Eve marriageable unlike the animals God had earlier presented him.


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