FLESH OF MY FLESH
It seems as though God saves the best for last in His creation scheme. He starts with the glorious basics and works His way up to the really spectacular stuff. If this can signify anything to us, it is the sheer marvelousness that is marriage, as God saved it for last. His two most glorious creations combined to form one mind-boggling and holy personhood: husband and wife.
Satan doesn’t follow in God’s footsteps on this (or much else, either). He goes straight for the best from the very beginning, understanding that if he could screw that up, the rest would eventually fall also. And so Satan attacks marriage. He turns Adam and Eve against God’s word and introduces first and foremost a brand-new emotion, rooted in sin: shame.
It is important to truly believe one thing about Adam and Eve: they loved God endlessly. I believe it is common as believers to ultimately demonize this couple and assume they didn’t love God enough, but that is not the case. God was very literally their everything and unity with Him was the only life they were familiar with. This should warn us that even good, God fearing marriages are not immune to temptation. How can we prepare for the inevitable attacks of Satan in our homes? I believe the answer lies within the story of creation.
Adam, at this time still sinless and having complete fellowship with his Creator, declares an ultimate truth revealed to him by God upon laying eyes on Eve for the very first time. He says, “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 to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) The original love-at-first-sight.
And so marriage is born.
Here we must further identify what bone represents and what flesh represents, for clearly we are not literally sharing these within marriage, praise the Lord. From my understanding, your bones are interior, representing all that is in you that you offer to marriage—your thoughts and emotions, personality and ideas, dreams and spirit. Your bones are the interior makeup of your identity. As your flesh is exterior, we can use this same reasoning to assume that this is all the worldly contributions to your marriage. This would include your possessions, your money, and, let us not forget, your sexuality.
If the phrase “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh” tells us anything about choosing our spouse, it is that we must share undeniable similarities. But, the verse goes onto to say that Adam and Eve would become “one flesh”. Obviously if this was worth noting, it is quite important. BUT we must also ponder the significance of what is not said. Notice, we are not told that Adam and Eve will also become one bone (or skeletal system, if you will). I dare say that this is a very intentional and telling moment in the Bible, stating frankly the confusing necessity to join as one yet remain as two.
If your bone represents all your interior goodies—your personality, dreams, thoughts, etc.—then many of us have significantly misunderstood what marriage truly entails. We have spent so much time focused on being certain that all our dreams and hopes and thoughts are the same—again, the aspects of us intended to remain unique—that I believe we have neglected becoming one flesh. This is not to say that our dreams and thoughts don’t need to point in the same direction, because they do. But do we sometimes believe the lie that we aren’t allowed individual goals that don’t pertain to our spouse?
I will never forget the day I told my husband that his dream of opening a specific business was not also mine. We had been married for three years and it was as if I had just told him that I no longer loved him. In his brain, that was just what I was doing because somewhere along the line, he had believed the notion that we must be of one bone. After healing this misunderstanding, we were suddenly released into a freedom we had never known in our relationship: the freedom to be our own, individual selves.
And then guess what happened? Shit got better.
My life improved. His life improved. Our love and home and physical relationship and laughter and communication suddenly escalated as we realized that it was okay to like different music and have different hobbies and pursue different dreams so long as we always kept after the same person and worshipped the same God. Each of us is our own individual, and this realization shifted our relationship into an upward trajectory.
Flesh is a different story. Husband and wife are to be of one flesh, and this is non-negotiable.
It seems plain to me that this is in reference to sexual intimacy. God gave us marriage as a place to express our righteous sexuality. He created sex as a gift for us, but I also believe He gave us sex to enhance our communication. As any married couple knows, the topic of sex is an ongoing, hyper-vulnerable conversation, teaching us how to love and trust in the realm of communication in order to better become one flesh.
But flesh goes beyond sex.
When we become one flesh, we must combine all worldly things. This includes our belongings—homes, cars, and possessions—but it also includes our finances—our debt, our credit history, our bank accounts. This is where vulnerability and trust meet and it is also where many couples fall short of the command to become one flesh.
But why is this so important to God?
First and foremost, joint bank accounts transform a couple into a team. The highs and the lows must be discussed and solved together, further escalating your communication and giving you the ability to dream alongside one another. In marriage, there is very little room for selfishness and sharing one bank account opens an ongoing conversation in which you decide together, as a team, how you will be financially represented in this world. In relationship, healthy dependency is vital and being able to support one another without guilt or separation is a step toward that.
Another massive contribution to the value of joint finances is the inability to keep secrets. At times, this forces you to become more creative as a spouse, as gift giving will require some secrecy, but we mustn’t sacrifice the ultimate majority for the small minority. How you are getting and where you are spending your money are two of the most revealing things about a person. In marriage, there simply isn’t room for secrets, and the ability to spend money without your spouse ever knowing about it is dangerous and destructive and gives the enemy an unnecessary opportunity to gain footing in your marriage.
Behind the choice not to combine finances, I believe there is fear. Once your bank accounts are shared, it becomes difficult to separate. That is quite literally the point. Combining flesh is intended to be nearly impossible to separate. This is commitment in its most basic form.
And finally, I cannot stress this enough, God intended for you to be one flesh. God’s purpose for marriage was to bring man and woman together to complete one another by becoming one whole and total flesh. This is the root intention of marriage: to display God’s limitless and complete love and commitment to His people. God holds nothing back from his children! In Galatians 4:7 we are told that we are sons and daughters, no longer slaves but coheirs with Christ. If we as married couples are to exemplify this great love and acceptance, we must realize that we cannot be obedient to this commission while holding back trusting one another with something as fleshy as our money. As stated in Matthew 6:24, a follower of God cannot serve two masters. When faced with the decision between serving money and serving God, we must choose Christ every time. This means releasing our prideful and selfish grasp on our finances.
John 19:28-37 is the gut wrenching moment in the gospels where Jesus finally takes His last breath on the cross. It is prophesied in Psalm 34:20 that not a bone would be broken, and thus to finalize the certainty of His death, a soldier pierces Jesus’ side with a spear. Jesus’ bones were protected as He had never given Satan an opportunity to enter into His body, mind, or heart; it was His flesh, the exposed and human exterior of the son of God, that was broken. You see, our bones, the inside stuff that identifies us as individuals and as a couple cannot be touched by the enemy unless we give him permission. Our flesh, on the other hand, is weak and easily targeted. Satan has dominion over this earth. He prowls like a lion, waiting to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). It is for this reason that God calls us to be one flesh. For together, our relationships are strong and healthy, but if we cannot combine as husband and wife on this level, our marriage becomes vulnerable and easily pierced.
I challenge you as a married couple to focus this week on the commandment of our Father to become one flesh and bask in the liberation of holy dependency on your spouse. That is, after all, just how God intended spousal love to be: fully surrendered, fully encompassing, and fully known.