What does “the two become one flesh” actually mean?
“…A man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
That verse is read at weddings, and we hear it often: “the two shall become one flesh”. But what does it really mean?
Does it just mean that the two shall become one FLESH–as in the two shall join together while making love?
Or is there more of the “the two shall become ONE” connotation–that somehow you actually form a true oneness when you’re married that transcends just our bodies?
To tell you the truth, I’ve often wondered about that. How can having sex, in and of itself, make you “one”? It’s just joining two bodies together, and let’s face it–people do that all the time. Is that the “oneness” that God was talking about? Or is it something deeper?
Here’s another picture of oneness:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10, NIV)
“Perfectly united in mind and thought.” I love that picture of oneness, too: that we have mind and purpose. And I’ve written about that aspect of marriage and how it relates to submission. I do believe that oneness is more than just physical, but today, as part of the “Embrace Your Marriage” virtual retreat, I’d like to talk about physical oneness.
Six other bloggers are participating in the Embrace Your Marriage retreat, and I think most of them will be writing about more of this unity aspect of oneness. Because I’m the resident Christian sex blogger, I thought I’d try to look at how unity and oneness truly are part of God’s plan for the marriage bed, too.
It’s hard for sex to make us feel like one flesh if sex seems kind of distasteful, or if it’s awkward, or sex, or if you’ve been abused in the past. So many of us have so many roadblocks for experiencing great oneness in sex, and I completely understand that.
Today, though, I don’t want to write a practical post on “how the two shall become one” when you make love, because I’ve written on practically how to get over some of these things before (and I did it in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex). Sometimes I think we just need a picture of perfection to help us go in the right direction, and that’s what I’d like to do today.
What's in The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex?
I believe that God meant for this to be something beautiful and stupendous, but I am fully aware that sex is not like that for many, if not most, of us. I’m not trying to be insensitive to your needs; I just want today to ask you to put aside the problems, and recognize that all of them flow from this world’s brokenness in some sort. And I want you to just imagine–just imagine that those problems weren’t there, and look at what God did intend.
How can sex make “the two become one flesh”? Does it just mean because the bodies are joined? Or is there something more to it?
I think there’s something far more.
Great Sex Is Vulnerable–It Reveals Our True Selves
When sex works–when we’re experiencing real pleasure–what we’re also doing is becoming truly vulnerable. In order for a woman to experience pleasure, she has to let go of control. She has to stop thinking and trying to make things happen, and she has to just let things happen (that’s a big difference). I’m not saying she’s passive or that she can’t move during sex or something; not at all. But it is almost like the sex takes on a life of its own, and it sweeps you away.
That’s essentially what an orgasm is, after all. You don’t create it; it happens. And to allow someone to sweep you away, and to allow someone to be part of that whole process with you, means that you hand over a huge chunk of yourself. It’s dependent on trust, because it creates a huge vulnerability in you.
That’s why sex is so difficult when trust has been broken, either because you were abused in the past, or something has happened in your relationship. Great sex requires vulnerability, and vulnerability requires trust. But the essence of it is that we’re no longer trying, it’s just happening, and that means that we’re showing him who we are underneath all the masks we put on everyday. In our sexuality who we are is really revealed. He sees what gives you ultimate pleasure. He sees what gets you over the moon. Sometimes you don’t even want to see that–not necessarily because it’s dirty or shameful, but because it’s so personal. And yet, in great sex, everything is bare.
Great Sex is Transcendent–You Lose Yourself
She has to let herself just “experience”. It’s almost like, in some way, she loses herself. All the things that make her “her”–the way that we choose to talk, the way that we choose to make decisions, the way that we choose to present ourselves to others–all of those go out the window when you’re having great sex. You aren’t “you” anymore; you’re someone else, someone more primal. That’s why C.S. Lewis said:
We must recognize that…is the act of love we are not merely ourselves. We are also representatives. It is here no impoverishment but an enrichment to be aware that forces older and less personal than we work through us. In us all the masculinity an femininity of the world, all that is assailant and responsive, are momentarily focused.
(from the Four Loves). He goes on to say that in lovemaking, we cease to be Steve an Sally, and we become Her and Him, quite different.
Great Sex Is Intensely Private–He’s the Only One Who Will See You Like This
That kind of intimacy and vulnerability can’t be shared with just anybody. It would be emotionally impossible. We can’t open up like that for everybody. You can only open up like that if commitment is part of your relationship, and if you know that this is the only person who will ever truly “know” you. I think that’s what God meant by this verse in Genesis:
“And Adam knew Eve his wife…” (Genesis 4:1; NKJV)
That Hebrew word for “know” is an intensely personal one. It’s the same one that David used when he said, “Search me and know me O God”. It isn’t a head knowledge; it’s a deep intimacy.
Great Sex Literally Bonds You Together as One
And then there’s the chemical process God threw in. Not only does sexual arousal require us to bare ourselves; but at orgasm we release the hormone oxytocin, which literally bonds you. It makes you feel attached to this person. It creates a true emotional and sexual bond that is very hard to break (though ties with past lovers can be broken).
That oneness in marriage is a deep intimacy, and it can’t be found just in your friendship or just in your unity of thought and purpose–though that is an important aspect as well. It is most intensely found when we make love. And when we do, we open ourselves up. We reveal our true selves. We lose our true selves in each other. And we feel joined.
If that is happening in your marriage (and that is what God wants for you, even if you are experiencing roadblocks), then can you see how it would also be easier to achieve that unity of thought and purpose, too? When we feel bonded and bare, it’s so much easier to also get on the same page, because you will show each other grace, you will be kind, you will more naturally agree.
Making love is such a beautiful thing, and that’s the way that God designed it.
I know it isn’t always like that, but I’d encourage you to see it as an act of faith today: even if you aren’t experiencing it, can you believe that this is what God designed? And if this is what God designed, then can you agree with God that He wants that for your marriage, and can you start working towards it and praying for it?
Maybe if we worked on the sex side of our relationship, rather than some of the other things, those other things would fall into place more easily. I’m not saying it’s a simple process, but often when sex is going well, all those other things do seem to be easier to solve.
If you’re having trouble experiencing this kind of oneness, I’d encourage you to check out The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, which talks about how something can be “holy” and “hot” at the same time–and explains how sex was meant to be passionate. If it hasn’t been that in your marriage, please check it out! Don’t miss out on what God created for you to enjoy.
Thanks for being part of this Embrace Your Marriage series.
So far I’ve talked about:
And all the other bloggers have, too! Today, you can follow their links and see what they say about embracing oneness in your marriage.