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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THEY TWO SHALL BE ONE FLESH

Ephesians 5:31-33 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The lesson text goes far in explaining, and reconciling, previous verses that are, all too often, given erring meaning, by taking them out of their context. Consider this oft quoted text found in verses 22 and 23: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands ...for the husband is the head of the wife.How macho these verses sound, describing the husband that demands total authority within a marriage, and how demeaning they are to the wife that sees her role in marriage as totally subservient and comparable to the servile, submissive behavior characteristic of slavery. Yet, when taken alone, without giving consideration to surrounding verses, as quoted above, the marriage relationship between husband and wife could be viewed this way. However, other verses leading up to the lesson text, other references from Paul's epistles, and other texts found throughout God's holy word, explain the marriage relationship, as intended by God.

Consider the lesson text. Paul says this about the institution of marriage, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This inspired commandment regarding marriage did not originate with Paul. Jesus, Himself, gave us practically the same commandment as His words,.which are recorded in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7. But we must go back even further, for the origin of this commandment. Before fathers and mothers existed on earth, God gave this commandment to Adam and Eve, to consecrate their union in marriage as husband and wife; Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24). As beings created by God, neither Adam nor Eve had an earthly mother and father. Therefore, this commandment was not given for their benefit, but it was to benefit their heritage - a commandment given to their children and all following descendents - a commandment that remains today just as valid as it was when it was given in the beginning of time.

This is the meaning of marriage as God ordained. It is the union of a man and a woman together as husband and wife. God sanctioned marriage, but He recognizes no other relationship, partnership, association, commitment, or union that is entered into by mutual agreement between people. The institution of marriage is restricted, by commandment of God, to the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. And, when this commitment is made, both the man and the woman leave the authority of their father and mother and create a new household authority - that of their own. Although the husband and wife have dual roles in a marriage, yet, in the sight of God, they shall be one flesh. They are to function as one body striving for the common goal of obedience to the will of God, with each party doing all within their individual abilities, to maintain a responsible, faithful union devoted to achieving that goal.

Beginning with verse 22 of this chapter of Ephesians, Paul compares marriage to the union of Christ to His church, as well as, to each Christian within that church. The church of Christ is His body, and Jesus Christ is its head. Those that accept Jesus' relationship to His church, must also accept the role of the husband as the head of the household, which results from a marriage. Why? Because, by example, that is the role assigned to the husband. Just as each Christian is to honor Jesus as head of His church, so the wife is to honor the husband has head of the household created by their marriage union (Vs. 22-24).

With the same love that Jesus has for His Church, a love that resulted in His death on the cross of Calvary, so is the husband to love the wife. There is great responsibility as head of the household. The husband is commanded to love his wife without condition; to demonstrate that love and devotion by cherishing her, nourishing her, providing for all her needs, and defending her with his own life. The love Christ has for His church, is the pattern the husband is always to follow, as head of the household formed by marriage (Vs. 25-30). In marriage the devotion of the wife and the unconditional love of the husband fulfills the will of God. With Jesus as their example, they two shall be one flesh!