On the Profundity of Marriage

Our culture, even in the church today, has a very shallow and anemic understanding of what marriage really is, should and can be. R.C Sproul, Jr., on the recent death of his wife:

The Bible says that husbands and wives are one flesh. Christian marriage pundits turn this too into “Be nice to each other.” That is, we are told about the importance of open communication. We are encouraged to be as concerned for our spouse as we are for ourselves. We, in rephrasing what God has said so that we might understand it, end up further from the truth. We are not commanded to live as if we were one flesh. Instead we are told that such is the actual truth. The one-flesh reality means that I haven’t just lost the love of my life, but half of me. How could I recognize me, when I am now only half the man I once was? It isn’t quite accurate to say that when she drew her last breath a part of me died. Instead, half of me died.

It reminds me of a poem I once read, based on Genesis 2 among other things, which ends like this:

My life now complete, one flesh now formed
The wound in my side now staunched.
This glorious creature, perfectly fashioned by his hand,
Silenced the wound’s echo forevermore.

“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:22–24, ESV) Marriage, in Christ, is a one-flesh reality and is meant to be lived out this way, not as a metaphor of love and companionship, as profound as that is, or only as a sexual metaphor. God joins and knits together husbands and wives into a new union: spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. He completes them. He creates something new. How much holier, happier and healthier, richer and stronger, would marriages in our churches be if we better grasped, meditated upon, and taught this reality. This would also be a far more helpful basis for understanding sexuality (and an antidote to what our culture says) than even what many in the church are teaching today (see here and here for critiques).