One of the greatest mysteries in life is the joining of men and women in holy matrimony. Wedding ceremonies have occurred for thousands of years. So, one would think any mysterious elements associated with something that occurs so frequently, and in the presence of many witnesses, would be resolved by the New Millennium. What makes it even more extraordinary is that parents of the bride will pay up to $25,000 to allow their daughters and her fiancé’s an opportunity to participate in something that has remained so mysterious in a culture that values science and outcome based education. Each of these gatherings will have between seventy and one hundred and fifty friends and family members in attendance.  A complementary meal is served to each guest as an act of gratitude for attending such a glorious and mysterious event. The invited guests are happy to bring gifts as symbols of their appreciation for being invited to the ceremony. 

The Bible provides answers to the mysteries of two people becoming as one-flesh?”  The Biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) use the term “one flesh” to explain the joining of a man and woman in holy matrimony.  The translation of “one flesh” into the English language means to keep close, cling or glue together. These synonyms help to unfold the mystery, however, some things will never be understood in this life because covenant is a divine process as described in Ephesians 5:31-33, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (NKJV). The Biblical interpretation of “one flesh” requires men and women to prioritize their marriages above all other relationships including cultural or family obligations.

In order to experience the fullness of one-flesh relationships, married couples must learn how to prioritize their relationship over cultural or family traditions as they walk out the principles of the kingdom of God that includes leaving and cleaving. Couples must learn to cleave (cling  to each other) above cultural or family obligations or traditions. Another element of one-flesh relationships is loving and respectful attitudes between husbands and wives. The principle of cleaving to your spouse does not diminish the love that husbands and wives have for his or her parents but it speaks of the priorities that couples must place upon their marital relationships. Couples must be willing to face the tensions that arise when following kingdom principles in a worldly context of the already and not yet kingdom view of life. I have found that couples who are respectful and loving toward each other will also be successful in balancing the tension between leaving and cleaving.

           The tension between leaving and cleaving is minimized when spouses are committed to be non-anxious presences for each other especially when family responsibilities challenge their autonomy as husbands and wives. The autonomy of relationships can only be threatened from within. A Christ-centered relationship is secure against any type of dependency that cultural values puts upon married couples. The autonomy of marriages is threatened whenever offenses are taken up by spouses who become upset when his/her husband or wife needs to respond to family responsibilities or obligations. Offenses lead to couples feeling isolated from each other and isolation leads to anxiousness. An anxious relationship pulls couples away from each other at time when they need to draw near to each other. One person is moving toward his or her family responsibilities while the other person stays behind. The commitment to be relational allows spouses to be a non-anxious presence for each other when cultural or family obligations press in on one of them. The spouse who is being pulled toward his/her extended family for whatever reason and some of these reasons are very legitimate such as health or financial struggles, etc… will be blessed when his/her spouse draws near to him or her. Couples regain their autonomy when they come along side of each other to address these needs. Couples who form respectful and loving relationships will find that his or her ability to be flexible rather than rigid toward cultural or family obligations or responsibilities actually draws them closer to each other and allows them to celebrate their autonomy as husband and wife. This type of relationship is a mystery to the world.