God created Adam, the first man, out of dust. Adam couldn’t find a helper that suited him so God made him fall into a deep sleep and removed one of his ribs.
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.
The union between Adam and Eve was the first marriage and it is the pattern for all subsequent marriages.
A married couple becomes one flesh. Jesus explained the significance of this when he answered a question about divorce.
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”
They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”
And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The fact that a husband and wife are one flesh means that God intends for their union to be permanent. Divorce is more than dissolving an agreement between two people. It is analogous to amputating part of one’s body.
The apostle Paul has told us how the union of two people into one flesh takes place.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
1 Corinthians 6:15-16
It is customary for a couple getting married to have a public ceremony of some kind to publicly proclaim their intention to join together as husband and wife but the ceremony doesn’t make them one flesh. They become one the first time they engage in sexual intercourse. Those who engage in sex without getting married also experience this union. That means that there are many people who in God’s sight are in a union with another and don’t realize it.
Only a man and a woman can become one flesh. Many governments now allow same sex “marriages”. It is impossible for two men or two women engage in the kind of sexual activity needed to unite two people in one flesh so those who are in these unions are not married in God’s sight.
Marriage has a purpose that is generally overlooked. It is intended to serve as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. (The word “church” is the name given to that group of people who have repented of their sins and been forgiven because of their faith in Christ. The various churches we see around us frequently have members who are part of this true church and members who are not.)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
This knowledge should govern how husbands and wives treat each other. Christ loved the church and gave his life for her; husbands should love their wives enough that they are willing to give their lives for them. The church submits to Christ and obeys him; wives should submit to their husbands.
Human marriages will end when this life ends; our marriage to Christ will endure forever.