Toad has been questioning his assumptions. As a result…
I believe that up until now I have been wrong with regard to my exegesis on the issue of becoming one flesh as mentioned in Genesis 2:24.
Whereas previously I believed the one flesh bond between man and woman was the result of marriage to a virgin, I now believe the spiritual bond created by God known as “one flesh” occurs each time a couple has sex regardless of their marital relationship or even the legitimacy of the relationship. This is in harmony with Matthew 19:6 as well as 1st Corinthians 6:16, as I will demonstrate below.
From an exegetical standpoint this solidifies the doctrine that marriage begins when the eligible virgin has sexual intercourse. By giving a better understanding of 1st Corinthians 6:16 it is easier to understand the interpretation of dabaq in Genesis 2:24.
The lack of a prohibition that forbids a man and woman who are eligible to marry from having sex points to the fact that “sex outside marriage” is not a sin. Unfortunately this creates the specter of unrestrained sexuality in the minds of many, but perhaps a better understanding of becoming one flesh will ease those fears.
Recognizing the one flesh bond is created and strengthened with every act of sex reinforces the point that the man gives his consent and commitment to marriage every time he has sex, which results in a one flesh union of the man and woman. If his purpose is marriage, he does nothing wrong. If the purpose is any other reason his motives are questionable because once the one flesh bond is created, breaking it later will cause harm to the woman.
Yet, we live in a world filled with broken women and it isn’t that it’s necessary to break some eggs to make an omelet, the eggs are already broken. A man must have wisdom.
Scripture only uses the term “one flesh” in Genesis 2:24 and when Genesis 2;24 is quoted elsewhere (Matthew 19, Mark 10, Ephesians 5 and 1st Corinthians 6). Genesis 2:24 is the law of marriage and the bond of one flesh is a synonym of marriage within the church.
Because marriage occurs at a certain point and then one is married, it’s assumed the bond of one flesh is created once and exists afterward in the same way we assume the husband only gives his commitment to marriage at a wedding ceremony. Yet, marriage is a type of the relationship between Christ and His church so we should understand there is more to it than that. There is a point at which a person is justified (becomes a Christian), but following that a Christian goes through the process of sanctification as they grow in Christ. First one becomes a Christian, then one grows as a Christian.
In the same way a marriage is formed with sexual intercourse and that act produces a spiritual bond (one flesh). The husband makes his commitment to the marriage with the initial act and thereafter renews his commitment with succeeding acts of sexual intercourse. Likewise the one flesh bond is created with the initial act and renewed and strengthened with each succeeding act. The two are married and over time the married couple grows closer together.
I was confused about the one flesh bond because of the reference to a covenant marriage in Malachi 2 (in which God is speaking to the priests), which references the command in Leviticus 21‘s instruction to the priests that they must take only a virgin as a wife. This caused a study of covenants and as a result I viewed the “one flesh” union as being synonymous with a “covenant” marriage that only occurs with a virgin.
As a result my view of “become one flesh” was it occurs as a single act of God when the couple is married. It followed that after God has joined them they’re now joined in a “once and done” kind of way, but only with a virgin (due to my confusion with the reference to covenant marriage).
Yet, Paul’s admonition in 1st Corinthians 6:16 continued to bother me because he was speaking of becoming one flesh and the men were most certainly not being married to the prostitutes in question.
The question arose: What if the one-flesh union is a product of having sex that does not require marriage and only the covenant marriage is what is restricted to the virgin? In that case the “covenant marriage” is not the same thing as becoming “one-flesh”.
There is only one way to deal with questions like that. Test them.
Assume the spiritual union of one-flesh results every time a man and woman have sex, regardless of their marital status. Test that according to the Scriptures.
Re-Evaluating 1st Corinthians 6:16, “do you not know?”
Notice Paul states that being “one body” is to become “one flesh” in this passage. It is a progression: first joined physically (one body) and with that act, joined spiritually (one flesh). Yet, they are not married.
Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” (1st Corinthians 6:16)
What we know:
- The Apostle Paul and the men at that time knew that sex with a prostitute was not a sin because that activity was not prohibited and therefore was not and could not be immoral.
- The prostitutes were eligible to marry and thus were not committing adultery.
- Paul gave his prohibition within the context of Genesis 2:24 and quoted part of that verse (the two shall become one flesh).
- The prohibition ONLY applies to Christian men.
- The men were NOT becoming married to the prostitutes with the act of sex, because a woman who is no longer a virgin is free to marry whom she chooses (1st Corinthians 7:39) and must agree to be married (Numbers 30:9) before sex makes her married. Prostitutes were the one group of women who didn’t want to marry the men.
Therefore, we cannot place the bond of becoming one flesh only within the domain of marriage. If not occurring solely with the act of becoming married, it must be the result of having sex and it must occur every time one has sex. This is the same as the man giving his commitment to marriage every time he has sex with a woman. He “renews his vow” every single time he has sex with his wife.
Therefore, a superior exegesis of 1st Corinthians 6:16 is that Christian men are not to have sex with a prostitute because sexual intercourse with her results in the one flesh bond and thereby joins Christ to her in the process. Because marriage is not required to become one flesh.
Think of sex and the one flesh bond as playing with fire. Fire can be a useful servant if controlled, but a dangerous master that destroys if it gets out of control.
I previously concluded that Paul gave his prohibition on using prostitutes for sex because it was an abuse of the man’s authority to marry. This correction strengthens the case that the men were abusing their authority to marry, becoming one flesh with no intention of being married.
With the view that the one-flesh union is created any time a man and woman have sex (without regard to marriage), we have Paul saying that because Christian men are spiritually joined with Christ, they are not to form spiritual one-flesh unions with prostitutes because in doing so they join Christ in that union. In that case, it makes perfect sense to quote Genesis 2:24 saying “they shall become one flesh” because that is the justification of his prohibition. Becoming “one body” causes the man to become “one flesh” with the woman.
Re-Examining Matthew 19:6, “Let no man separate”
Jesus, in Matthew 19:6, speaking within the context of divorce (which can only occur when there is a marriage) said “so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” This is the statement that tells us that the “one flesh” bond is something that God does, which allows us to better understand Paul’s comparison between the one flesh bond and becoming a member of the body of Christ in Ephesians 5:28-32.
- The mere act of sex produces the one-flesh union, a union created by God.
- This occurs whether it’s within or without marriage.
- Once the two have been joined in marriage, they are not to be separated.
- That which is joined by God cannot be successfully separated by man.
This reinforces the point that marriage is begun with the act of sex and for that reason there is no prohibition anywhere in Scripture that forbids a man and woman who are eligible to marry from having sex. At the same time it informs us that the act of sex is to create the one flesh bond which is an act of God. Separation following that is not something that man was authorized to do.
Conclusions From Scripture
- The one flesh bond cannot be tied to sex with the virgin because that would associate it only with marriage. If it were tied only to the virginity of the woman we have a two-tiered marriage system of one flesh marriage and civil (by consent) marriage. If this were the case Jesus is saying that it is acceptable to divorce in the case of tier-II marriages because they are not one flesh.
- The one flesh bond cannot be tied solely to marriage because Paul is stating that becoming one body with a prostitute is to become one flesh with her. This act takes place outside the bonds of marriage (by definition) and will not result in marriage because the prostitute does not agree to be married.
- All marriages are initiated with sex and therefore all marriages are characterized by the bond of becoming one flesh.
- The act of sex causes God to join the two as one flesh, so each act of sex renews and strengthens the spiritual bond of one flesh between them in the same way that each act of sex is to renew the husband’s commitment to his marriage.
Science and Observation
The question of becoming one flesh has some interesting possibilities on the physical level that modern science is just beginning to explore.
Each person has a specific microbiome profile of the various flora and fauna living in them. The microbes in their bodies. What that means is everyone has about ten trillion cells that make up their bodies, but in addition the body is host to about one hundred trillion cells living in it that are microbes. The human genome has about twenty-one thousand genes, but the microbes living in each person have around eight million genes that interact with the body, turning genes on and off, tinkering with the immune system and things of that nature. The microbes in everyone’s body are part of who they are.
When a woman has sexual intercourse with a man she isn’t just getting his semen, she’s getting a big dose of his microbiome and as time passes they literally become one flesh. The microbiome affects who you are, how you think and how you feel. It has a huge impact on things like digestion, allergies, diabetes, obesity, bowel disorders and even psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression. Researchers are just getting started looking at this, but it’s now safe to say that in some ways, mental disorders are sexually transmissible. Crazy could be considered an STD in another generation.
In a sexual relationship the woman will be receiving the man’s microbiome in the act of sexual intercourse and over time they will develop a similar profile as her body becomes more like his. In addition, during intercourse his semen is absorbed by the woman and as a result his DNA is entering into her bloodstream and tissue. As a result of regular sex, over time the man’s microbiome and DNA becomes part of the woman’s body.
This is even more pronounced when a woman gets pregnant because fetal cells will invade her body. These are almost always stem cells and they’ll go to any part of her body that needs help and set to work repairing the damage. Fetal cells are half her DNA and half his DNA. That means through the action of sex and pregnancy the father will literally become a part of the mother’s body with every baby he fathers in her because those cells don’t go away. His DNA will be with her for the rest of her life along with his microbiome.
At one time doctors thought semen was just the delivery vehicle for the sperm, but not any more. Semen is now considered the most complex fluid the body produces, more complex than blood. It’s loaded with enzymes and prostaglandins that a woman’s body does not produce. Her vagina, cervix and uterus will absorb the semen and within a few hours after intercourse the woman’s bloodstream shows measurable amounts of the ingredients of semen. The effect of this is to improve the woman’s sense of well being.
This the definition of becoming one flesh on a physical and emotional level.
Dr. Lazar Greenfield was the president elect of the American College of Surgery, a man at the top of his profession. His career was destroyed by feminists because he wrote a Valentines Day article in “Surgery News” that discussed the benefits of semen for women.
Dr. Greenfield noted the therapeutic effects of semen, citing research from the Archives of Sexual Behavior which found that female college students practicing unprotected sex were less likely to suffer from depression than those whose partners used condoms (as well as those who remained abstinent).
Read the entire story that I linked to get the rest of the story that discusses the research. Although the newsletter retracted the entire issue, the essay in question is here at retractionwatch.
I believe an understanding of “become one flesh” is the final piece of the puzzle for understanding Genesis 2:24 and the real-world applications are interesting.
And this means I have a lot of editing to do on posts from years gone by.