In Mark 10:7-9 we find a familiar passage that is often read at weddings. In that passage Christ states “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
When a husband and wife come together in marriage – this new relationship takes precedent over all other earthly relationships. Before they were married their greatest earthly relationship was with their parents and now it is with each other.
There are three important concepts about this unity in marriage that Christ talks about:
“And they twain SHALL be one flesh”
“so then they ARE no more twain, but one flesh”
“What therefore God hath joined together, let NOT man put asunder.”
Biblically speaking in marriage, a husband and wife are one flesh from the moment of their marriage covenant, yet they are to be becoming one flesh more and more the longer they are married and they are not to stop being one flesh as long as they both live.
In a way, this concept of being one flesh in marriage mirrors our salvation. From the moment, we are saved we receive Christ’s righteousness and are declared justified by God. But the Bible tells us “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) exhorting us to progressive sanctification. In essence the Bible is telling us “You are holy, so be holy”. In the same way, the Bible tells couples in marriage “You are one flesh, so be one flesh”.
5 Steps to Becoming One Flesh in Marriage
Step 1 – A husband and wife are to have sexual relations on a regular basis
“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”
I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)
The act of marriage or the consummation of marriage is sexual union. This is the most literal meaning of the Biblical phrase “one flesh”. Sex is to occur regularly in marriage. An interesting biological fact of sex is that it releases two bonding hormones (oxytocin and vasopressin) which God designed to draw a couple closer together.
On this subject of sexual relations in marriage Christian and non-Christian counselors are usually in fully agreement. The regularity of sexual relations is the first indicator of how healthy a relationship is. While it is possible to have regular sexual relations but still have disunity in a marriage – it is impossible to have full unity in a marriage without regular relations.
Step 2 – A husband is to know his wife
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
I Peter 3:7 (KJV)
For husbands this is the first step in cultivating oneness with their wife. A husband cannot love his wife as God intended without knowing her and this involves him talking with her and spending time with her. God thought it was so important for a man to get to know his wife that in the law he gave to Moses for Israel he gave this rule for newlywed couples:
“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”
Deuteronomy 24:5 (KJV)
God literally forbade men from going off to war or going away on business trips for the first year of their marriage. Couples literally had a one year honey moon in Israel!
So, this leads us to another question – why does a husband need to know his wife? The answer is found for us in the last part of I Peter 3:7 “that your prayers be not hindered.” What God is basically saying is “Husbands if you do not hear the concerns, needs and requests of your wife God will not hear your concerns, needs and requests”.
God wants all authorities whether they be Kings, governors, parents, masters, or employers to hear the concerns, needs and requests of those under them. This does not mean that a husband must give his wife whatever she wants or makes the decisions the way she wants him to. Sometimes God answers our prayers with a “yes”, sometimes he answers them with a “no” and sometimes he answers them with a “wait”. It is the same with a man and his wife.
When a man hears the concerns and requests of his wife and truly knows how she thinks, even if he does not act as she would like after hearing her this helps to build unity in the marriage.
Also, when a husband knows his wife he knows her passions and her interests. As long as those her interests do not conflict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home he should encourage her in these things. For example, maybe his wife likes to paint or to sing in church. Maybe she has desire to write for a woman’s blog, maybe she likes to write poetry. Perhaps she has a desire to run in home daycare. None of these things would automatically contradict with her primary duties as a wife, mother and keeper of the home.
However if a woman has a passion to be a mega news giant superstar and wants her husband to stay at home and take care of the home and kids(like Fox News star Meghan Kelly for example) her passions and ambitions are at direct odds with the role for which God designed her. This is by definition an example of selfish ambition on the part of a woman.
See “I wanted a wife and so did she – Ex-husband of Megyn Kelly speaks out about his marriage to the FOX News star” for more on this feminist superstar.
Step 3 – A wife is to learn how her husband thinks
“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
Not only in spiritual matters, but in all matters of life a wife is to learn how her husband thinks and what makes him tick. A wife knowing how her husband thinks is critical to building the unity God desires for marriage between a man and his wife.
Step 4 – A wife is to submit to her husband
“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)
The inevitable result of a woman getting to know how her husband thinks is that she will discover ways that he thinks that she disagrees with. Now a woman has two choices when she realizes these differences. One is to try and correct or change her husband’s thinking and the other is to submit. God calls women to do the latter and submit even when they disagree with their husbands. As long as a husband does not directly ask his wife to sin she must submit to him everything.
A wife should offer her advice in a kind way, not in a contentious way
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Proverbs 31:26 (KJV)
In the previous step, we discussed that in order to maintain the unity in marriage that God desires for couples to have a wife must submit to her husband especially when she disagrees with him. But this does not mean that wives are forbidden from sharing any wisdom they have with their husbands.
But the attitude and method in which a woman shares her wisdom with her husband is very important. The Bible warns against wives being contentious with their husbands:
“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”
Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)
Even if the words of a wife to her husband are wise, if they are delivered in a contentious or angry manner to her husband they will lose their intended effect and will cause the unity in the marriage to decline rapidly.
Also, a woman should always understand the position from which she offers advice. She is not her husband’s mother, his teacher or his authority. He is her authority and Biblically speaking his authority over her is even greater than that of her father’s.
A woman should view herself as a subject which gives counsel to her King and remember the Scriptures exhortation to wives to be “in subjection unto their own husbands”(I Peter 3:5).
Step 5 – A wife is to be her husband’s crown
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”
Proverbs 12:4 (KJV)
The Bible tells us that a wife should be a crown to her husband. What is a crown? A crown brings glory and honor to its recipient. So, what the Bible is saying is that a wife by being her husband’s crown is one who should bring him glory and honor. She is to be his greatest cheerleader and supporter. The unfortunate truth is that many wives today are more of a dunce cap than a crown to their husband. Just as a wife being contentious with her husband breaks the unity of the marriage so too a wife failing to honor her husband for the man that he is will quickly break the unity of the marriage.
But there is another interesting aspect of a crown – especially that of a king. It was very common in ancient times that when a King conquered another land he would take the crown of the conquered King and put it on his head to show his ownership and authority over his newly conquered lands.
But what if a King liked the crown of another ruler and wanted to wear it more often but it did not fit his head well? Perhaps it was two small and would almost fall off his head or maybe it was too large for the diameter of his head and it would slide down in front of his face. So, what would the King do? He would give the crown to his craftsman and have them resize the crown to fit his head perfectly. Perhaps he would have them add some additional gems and take some gems away that he did not like. The point is that the crown would be molded to the King’s liking and made to fit his head perfectly.
In the same way wives need to move beyond mere submission to their husbands in their quest to truly be one flesh with their husbands.
Wives need to mold themselves over time more and more to their husbands likes and dislikes and to his various positions on the issues of life. They need to support and understand his passions whether it is his passion for his job, his ministries at church or his hobbies. This even more just mere submission – will bring the true unity that God desires to the marriage.
This does not mean that a wife may ever come to love everything her husband loves or hate everything her husband hates. There are some passions he may have that she will never be able to bring herself to share.
But a wife should pray hard each and every day that God would help her to mold herself and fit herself so that in the same way a crown needs to fit the head of the King who wears it – so to a wife needs to fit herself to her husband.