One Flesh

Otten-Guehne Wedding
Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5
May 12, 2018
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO

The two will become one flesh.

In the name of + Jesus.

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When the Bible repeats something, you know it’s important. Repetition is the mother of all learning. If it’s repeated once, you should pay attention, but if it’s repeated more than once, you should pay extra special attention. The saying, “The two will become one flesh,” is repeated five times in five different places, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s the only thing I’ve encountered in my reading of the Bible that features explicitly in the teaching of Moses, Jesus, and Paul. This is an indication that marriage is an important, foundational estate for what it means to be human.

It’s part of what it means to be in the image of God. God created humanity in His image; as a male and female He created them. This dichotomy of humanity indicates something about the nature of God. Woman was taken out of man, and then they are brought back together and united in one flesh. This is the essence of marriage.

Marriage pleases God—not that He requires marriage as an absolute; Paul writes that it’s also good for a man not to marry. But there is something in the unique relationship between one man and one woman till death parts them that expresses something about God that no other relationship is able to do. The two will become one flesh.

So God blesses marriage. He gives marriage His good Word. And this blessing is threefold: marriage is for mutual companionship, help, and support, in good and in bad; it’s for man and woman to find delight in each other in their complementary ways; and it’s for the procreation and raising of children.

Now that was in the beginning, before sin entered the picture. The blessing still remains, but it is obscured by the corruption of sin. That’s why before St. Paul gets to the bit about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives and not being harsh with them, he writes, Then, as holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be tender-hearted, kind, humble, gentle, patient; bear with one another and forgive one another if you have a complaint against anyone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. With all this have love, which binds it all together to make it perfect (Col 3:12-14). If your marriage is not built on forgiveness, then it will never reflect the image of God.

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But what is it about the one-flesh union between a man and a woman that expresses God’s image? The two will become one flesh. God and humanity are completely other, as far as the east is from the west. They say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. But man is from earth and God is from heaven. How can that distance be bridged?

It is only in the unique union of God and man in the flesh of Jesus that bridges the gulf between God and man. The two have become one flesh. And this is why St. Paul writes that the union of a man and a woman is really all about Christ and the Church. The union of man and woman here on earth images the union of Jesus with His beloved.

He became flesh not to lord it over His people, and to rule with an iron fist, but to suffer all, even death, so that His beloved could be presented as the most beautiful thing creation has ever seen. Luke, that’s your duty—every day from here on, you are to give yourself up for the sake of your bride. And the Church submits to Christ, her head, and receives every good gift from Him, so wives submit to their husbands as it is right in the Lord. Michelle, that’s your duty—to submit means put yourself at the receiving end of God’s good gifts for you, which He gives through your husband. This is the order of marriage established at creation, which mirrors the relationship of Jesus and the Church.

The fruit of the union of God and man in the flesh of Jesus is the forgiveness of sins. That’s why Paul cannot teach about marriage until he has first taught all Christians—including husbands and wives—to forgive sins. The forgiveness of Jesus is the medicine for every corruption of your marriage by sin, every transgression that each of you will commit against one another, every failure of duty. Forgiveness is what holds this union together, because forgiveness removes the enmity of sin.

By His Word and Blessing, Today God Joins You Two, Luke and Michelle, Together as One Flesh

In the name of + Jesus.

Jacob W Ehrhard
VD+MA