The Two Become One.
Recently I had a discussion with a friend about what it means and doesn’t mean that a married couple become one. Like most important subjects we can go back to the original creation record for answers. God created humanity, male and female, to be His image bearers. “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness’” (1:26). Right in this beginning chapter of the bible we are told that God is both one and many. As we go throughout scripture and the confessions we understand that God is one in essence yet three in persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are to understand among other things, that part of the “likeness” we share and the ability we are given to be His image bearers, is that we are created as social beings-just like the Trinity, and it was never good for us to be alone (2:18).
However, like the Trinity we also maintain our separate and unique personages. As we continue to read on in the Genesis account we read that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (3:24). ‘One flesh’ does not mean one person, just as the Father-Son-and Holy spirit are one in essence but three separate persons. One often hears a spouse say, usually the husband, that their spouse is their “better half.” This is a completely unbiblical and dangerous notion. Many married people complain that they have lost themselves in their spouse. This would be less likely to happen if they had a truly biblical conception of personhood. Even God when He saves us does not change the essential and unique person whom He formed in our mother’s womb, every bit as unique as our DNA.
The essential thing from the above quotation is that they are to leave their parents behind as far as being a new entity and unique standing before God and the world. This is a good corrective to some parents who feel the need to continue to meddle or take sides in the affairs of their married children. They also become one flesh, and it is this oneness which they do not share with any others. I was once asked by someone who was actually speaking more for his wife and who really wanted to trap me, that if I felt that a husband owns his wife-given my biblical conception of the marriage roles. He was shocked at first and then resigned that perhaps his wife’s suspicious were correct when I said that-“yes, he owns her.” But I also added that she also owns him, as Paul made abundantly clear in regard to their flesh (I Cor. 7:4).