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In the Bible, when it refers to “two becoming one flesh”, does it mean that

  • the physical act of sex creates a position where both bodies are connected?


  • the flesh (DNA) from the man and and the woman unite to form one flesh (a child derived from both father and mother)?


  • something else entirely?
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I made some edits to your post to make it easier to read. See this page to learn about mark down for your posts. It will help you format them in really effective ways. –  fredsbend Mar 13 '13 at 8:33

7 Answers 7

up vote 6 down vote accepted

While I can see a certain level of applicability to the first two points you mention, I think the most meaningful and relevant answer is something else entirely.

If you look at the at-one-ment of Jesus Christ, in terms of what Jesus taught in the intercessory prayer (John 17:20-23), you can see that he is calling for union to take place between those who are believers.

When you look at the structure of what Jesus Christ organized, you can see a system of ordinances that have covenants coupled with them. Just as a man and a woman enter into a marriage covenant and become "one flesh" so too do believers who join together in a body form a body of one flesh.

So, as I see it, the concept of "one flesh" means that multiple individuals join together in covenant and are organized into some kind of a greater collective identity that can be looked at as its own distinct individual entity.

The marriage between a man and a woman is simply one example of it on one level, but the underlying concept is applicable on a more universal scope at varying levels.

Paul teaches another example of this where in Ephesians 5:30 he says that everyone who joined the Church of Christ is a member of the body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones.

And, in actuality, as members of the church they are members of the body of the Bride of Christ. But, since Christ and His Bride are married and "one flesh" then Christ can say of the church members that they are "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" just as Adam said to Eve. (Genesis 2:23)

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+1 This is clearly explained, and a specific, new perspective on the original question. I was also thinking about the intercessory prayer, and Christ's plea that we become one. So as well as the asker's first two points, other types of unity could be another way to view this commandment. –  Matt Apr 20 '13 at 4:53
The "one flesh" denotes the intimacy that is achieved between husband and wife. –  One Face Feb 12 at 16:48

In the old testament the Tabernacle and later, the Temple, was the dwelling place of the essence of God on earth. It was the center of Spiritual life. After Pentecost, our human bodies became The Temple where the Spirit "in dwells."

During the act of procreation, the male and female bodies are indeed conjoined as one, but this temporary union always ends with the death of the sperm and egg; unless a new beautiful human life is created. God's purposes are to bring life, not death. The new birth, is a lovely, unique human being created by the "union" of the mother & father's individual DNA. "Therefore the two become one." This beautiful and unique union cannot be denied by any one. Not the father, mother or the child, no matter how much they may wish is to be so. It cannot be undone nor torn apart.

But in God's Kingdom, this new birth means much more than a new "human being." Jesus was begotten, not made. He exists through all time. But when a child is born, don't we believe a new "eternal being" is created at that moment? This is a life giving, eternal an act of co-creation with God, not a crude, temporary act of procreation between two worldly creatures. For the child is a new eternal being! And not only eternal, but an eternal being created in the image of God. And not just in God's image, but ultimately, becomes temple for The Holy Spirit. A sanctuary for God's presence on earth. The new place from which Spiritual life on this planet emanates. The Holy Spirit is to become that child's Advocate, Counselor, Comforter and Intercessor for the glory of God on earth and in the heavens...

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One flesh - Connected sexually first. The result is "one flesh", a newborn baby that is "one flesh" of the woman and man who joined together.

Also it means the two of you are now one "until death do (you) part". One team raising a family. One set of loving parents guiding their children. One set of legs, arms, eyes, mind working to fulfill the will of God.

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I believe, as was stated by Chris, that "one flesh" is essentially created by the act of physical union in the act of sexual intercourse and I do believe that this is by God's design. Sexual activity was never meant to be taken lightly and was never meant to be something between many partners but between one man and one woman.

I say this because of what it says about sexual activity in the bible it also from personal experience. I believe firmly that a spiritual bonding takes place during the physical act that is not easy to dissolve. Having multiple partners outside of marriage creates multiple spiritual bonds and interferes with any future permanent relationship. I also personally believe that these bonds need to be recognized, confessed and renounced before God if they are not to cause a problem within the marriage relationship.

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Welcome to C.SE! When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. While I agree with everything you say, typically we aren't looking for personal opinion here, but rather sourced Scripture, Tradition, or other theological statements. This is well written, and I look forward to more, but it would be better with sources. –  Affable Geek Oct 9 '13 at 20:49

When man and woman have sex they enter a state called "one flesh" regardless of whether they are virgin or married or in fact having sex with a prostitute. You can be "one flesh" with many but God intends only one (living). "One flesh" is a state of spiritual union initiated by a fleshy act which can only be ended by death. The act of marriage creates a physical union and this should correspond with the spiritual union , so sex and marriage go together, even if the sex comes first. Jesus made a definitive statement on sex and marriage in Matthew 19.4 onwards which has deep spiritual meaning as well as a very simple literal meaning ; we wouldn't expect less from the top spirit himself. Over the years the Church has emphasised the marriage union and shied away from the "one flesh union" because it can easily control the former. The bible is a spiritual guide and the words used don't always do justice to the message. To those of you who have received messages from the Holy Spirit you will recall that you receive the message not in words; but your brain assigns words to it in a clumsy way...so when we read the Bible we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the understanding.

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Welcome to the site. As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites?. Also What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Sep 1 '13 at 13:23

St. Paul assumes the quote to be talking about the intercourse in 1 Kor 6, 16

16 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"

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Curious if the original writing says the two WILL become one flesh. That provides evidence towards it representing a child being conceived in my mind. (And to the other's point, yes this as with most things in the Old Testament is surely referring of something in simile that is to come; that being the union of Christ and the Church at the end of days.) –  Albert Renshaw Feb 13 at 4:13

The saying the Bible "The two become one flesh" is almost always in reference to marriage and all that it means.

The saying is found in Genesis 2:24, when God instituted marriage, Mark 10:8, when Jesus was commenting on the permanent nature of marriage, and Ephesians 5:31, when Paul uses marriage as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and the church.

The full extent of the verses in Genesis is:

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

In Ephesians, when Paul quotes Genesis he says "This mystery is profound," then moves back on topic about Christ and the church. This really only tells us that it is likely we cannot really understand the connection between a man and a woman in marriage.

The only truly reveling verse is Mark 10:8. Jesus is directly questioned if divorce is acceptable. He responds by quoting Genesis then says "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." This is simply that marriage is permanent. You cannot leave your marriage because God joined the two together.

There is a similar question here that should shed more light on the topic.

Summary in short: "Two become one flesh" is about marriage and the mysteries within that institution.

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I should note that I think the mystery that Paul was talking about exists because Adam and Eve lived and were married in the perfection of the Garden. Because of sin we cannot understand the perfection of marriage that they must have enjoyed. –  fredsbend Mar 13 '13 at 8:27

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