I wish it were all so easy… in this gift of marriage we were given. It is virtually impossible to become one. Is it achievable for us as humans? What does it even mean two can become one?
Early in the Biblical record, we are introduced to the bond of marriage between a man and a woman. God’s design is put forth, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23,24
…the two shall become one flesh… the Hebrew word is basar. This word is used 265 times in the Old Testament and 147 times in the New Testament and has multiple usages and meanings… denoting the material which makes up the human body to understanding the creative order and how it relates to God. It can be used in relation to the soul, the body, life. Basar or flesh is first used here in Genesis 2.
The root meaning of basar is to gladden with good news, to bear news, to announce with good news. I have not the intelligence to comprehend all this word encompasses for the marriage relationship, but I believe there is much more than we realize. I will try with Tom’s greater expertise, seek to share our practical understanding of this awesome concept.
It is interesting to note that God created them—male and female in His own image… “let us make man in our image… male and female he created them.” Man was created in God’s image as was the woman. Therefore, we each bear a uniqueness of God’s person. God placed His manly characteristics in the man, and in the woman He put His womanly or female qualities. It is now in the union of man and woman that a full expression of God’s nature can be seen.
I remember when I first realized this truth, how absolutely precious for me to ‘see’ Tom as having God’s strong, manly characteristics. Of course, he doesn’t have them all, or perfectly, but the potential is there to be filled with more and more of Jesus. And if I have been given God’s feminine, God-like traits, then as coming together in a union, we are able to recognize more and more of how God is.
I have learned much about God’s ways over these years as I am aware that the qualities Tom has, his responses and actions to me, to life, come from being made in God’s image. How awesome God is… I say in those moments. This, in no way, compares Tom with God, but allows me an understanding of God. I hope you understand that!
Every man possesses characteristics uniquely for him; every female… those uniquely for her. God has gifted each of us with Himself. Is that not incredibly awesome? You were created in His image!
Someone wrote “My wife brought lace curtains into our union; I brought the muddy boots.” In the marriage relationship, there is a union of God’s traits in both husband and wife. Another meaning of basar is a whole life—and so “two shall become a whole life.”
One essential purpose of the marriage bond is for man and woman to show or exemplify His likeness through their union to the rest of creation. This can be done on three levels:
- The physical… when a man and woman have a child, they become one. The child receives equal chromosomes from both father and mother. Thus, the parents become one in their offspring.
- The soul… both man and woman are soul creations. This is what makes them unique from all other creations. The image of God is imprinted within the soul— the mind, the emotions and the will. Both men and women possess these qualities that make them human. The ability to think and reason is a God-like quality, as are the emotions to feel and sense life on a spiritual level and the will to make choices. To become one here is to be “soul mates”. It does not mean that we think alike or feel the same way or make all choices in agreement. However, to become one as soul mates requires a sacrificial love that can only come from a spiritual source.
I was telling Tom someone compared ‘becoming one’ like cutting a grapefruit in a perfect half… then you just fit it back together, and you have a complete whole. Not so, said my wise man. Because both of us are not grapefruits! That would be too easy. What if one is a buffalo and the other a butterfly…absolutely cannot happen without sacrificial love.
There is much to be discussed here. Space and your time will not allow a full explanation of living in a sacrificial relationship. In brief, when a man and woman love each other well and are willing to put the other first, then the outcome is a compromise of oneness that is built on love and respect for each other. Balancing one another’s strengths and weakness is a result of this oneness. Ephesians 5 is an expression of such sacrificial love. When a husband and wife live by this standard, they are ‘bearing the news’ to the world of the oneness of God’s nature in and through their marriage.
- The spiritual level of oneness…a husband and wife can only become one spiritually when they are each united in the ONE who gives spiritual life. When both are connected to God through faith, they are one in harmony with God and with each other.
The ultimate goal of creation is to be one with God so that He becomes all in all: “When He has done this (this being… everything placed under God), then the Son will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15: 28
From the beginning God was One and in eternity God shall be all One. The whole of creation, especially the union of man and woman is to come together in a physical union as one, to grow in sacrificial love for each other, becoming soul-mates, and ultimately to become one in relationship to their Father. When this happens, God is honored as the One source of life and purpose… and the two have become a whole.
“My soul finds rest in God alone,” David affirms in Psalm 62. The writer of Ecclesiastes adds, “He has set eternity in the hearts of men…” 3:11. There is this desire in each of us to know God and to find His peace. Hannah Hurnard says in Hinds Feet on High Places, “It is God’s will that some of His children should learn this deep union with Himself through the perfect flowering of natural human love in marriage. For others, it is equally His will that the same perfect union should be learned through the experience of learning to lay down completely this natural and instinctive desire for marriage and parenthood… This instinct for love, so firmly implanted in the human heart, is the supreme way by which we learn to desire and love God Himself above all else.” P10
“I am thankful God let me live long enough to see what marriage is to look like,” a precious older friend told me one day in Vienna. “I never believed it was possible.”
It is possible… never perfectly…but always with much… learning, accepting, seeking… talking and touching (next week’s blog).