“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) We, however, need to understand that because of the tripartite nature of mankind, oneness wouldn’t be something to be achieved instantaneously. Man is a spirit, has a soul and lives in a body. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, that God may sanctify them completely and their whole spirit soul and body be presented blameless at the coming of Christ. Becoming one is a process and could be a very adventurous one. When a man and a woman get married, as soon as the marriage is consummated they become one in the bodies. Paul was warning believers against sexual immorality and he said anyone who is joined (i.e. sexually) to a harlot is one body with her! (1 Cor 6:16). When two believers get married, they are already one in spirit because of their union with Christ. The Bible says he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (1 Cor 6:17). For this reason the Bible warns believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers; it says there is no communion between light and darkness and the believer has no part with an unbeliever. (2 Cor 6:14-16). The soul comprises of the mind, the emotions and the will; and this part of man is usually where the major challenge is. The soul is the seat of your personality; it determines how you see things and how you respond to them. It is a product of your temperament, your experiences, your background, your up-bringing, your exposure, etc. As we all grew up in life, a lot of deposits – good, bad and ugly – were made into our souls. Paul told the Roman Christians not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of their mind, that they may prove the will of God. (Rom. 12:2) The New Living Translation says: “but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” This tells me that real transformation happens when the mind is renewed! And we can only prove God’s good, acceptable and perfect will even in marriage, when our minds are renewed. James told the believers to lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and to receive the implanted word which is able to save their souls. (Jas 1:21). The soul is where you have the deposits of filthiness and wickedness – even in believers! When we got saved, our spirits became a new creature, instantly redeemed! (2 Cor 5:17), but the salvation of the soul is a process that could even last a lifetime, depending on how yielded we are to the Spirit and Word of God. 2 Cor 3:18 says: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Marriage is between two people and according to God’s word; a man and a woman! (Gen 2:24). Marriage is between two different people! The first difference is in their genders: a man and a woman! Men are different from women; physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. Apostle Peter refers to the woman as the weaker vessel. (1 Pet. 3:7).
Marriage is also between two people usually with different temperaments, different family backgrounds, academic backgrounds, racial/ ethnic backgrounds, etc. yet the journey ahead of them is to become one. How could this ever be achieved? Let’s go back to our text: Gen 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
One, they have to leave before they can cleave! So many times, when people get married they find it very difficult to “leave” father and mother, sisters, uncles, aunties, friends, etc and cleave to their spouse. They want to hold on to the financial, emotional and other forms of security they enjoyed from those relationships and at the same time try to make a home. People don’t leave because they always want to have something to fall back on or somewhere to go, in case the marriage fails – and usually, with such a mindset, it fails! God said to Abram, “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.” (Gen 12:1). Abram wouldn’t have been blessed if he didn’t obey that word. Many times we don’t see the blessing of God on our marriage because we don’t obey God’s word – to leave and to cleave! The Bible says of those patriarchs of faith, that if they had been mindful of where they were coming from, they would have had opportunity to return. But they desired something better than what they had before – i.e. what God had in store for them. (Heb. 11:14-16). Many marriages are too crowded. Yes, the couple would need the input of others, but they need the time to find and know themselves with minimal interference from third parties. They need to cleave or cling before they can become one! This period of cleaving is the time the couple get to know and to understand each other. In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul admonishes the wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and the husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. And as believers, they are both to submit to one another in the fear of God! Peter also admonished the wives to follow the example of Sarah, in submitting to and obeying their husbands; and the husbands are to dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honour to them. He said husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life. (1 Pet. 3:1-7). Marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, with God at the centre of it! The Bible says The LORD is a witness between a man and his wife – Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.” (Mal. 2:14). The LORD says He hates divorce! (Mal 2:16). It’s high time people began to see marriage differently. God has an interest in the marriage of His people. Whatever we do in our marriage is therefore not only our business, but God’s! The way we treat each other, our attitude to the marriage, etc, really matter to God. Apostle Peter warned the men to treat their wives right so that their prayers will not be hindered! (1 Pet 3:7). Also in Malachi 2:13,14, the LORD does not regard the offering anymore nor receive it with goodwill from your hand “Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.” Covenant is the opposite of convenience. Covenant is more than a contract. It is not subject to the other party’s weaknesses or inability to perform. The marriage covenant is not only between the man and his wife, God is included in that covenant. “And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccles 4:12). Marriage is like a triangle; with God at the top of it and the two parties at the end of the two base points. The closer each one gets to God, the closer they both get to each other. Marriage is about each person giving their all and not saying: “What about him or her?” It is about each party doing what God commanded them to do, regardless of what the other does. Marriage is based on the love of God, not on human love! Human love is conditional and very limited, in addition to being selfish. The love of God is unconditional, unlimited and very selfless! (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Marriage is also ordained of God as a place where individual needs can be met legitimately – without a sense of fear, shame and guilt. Before the fall, the Bible says the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed. (Gen 2:25). Paul said to avoid sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband. He said the husband and the wife should not deprive each other sexually except with consent and to come together again so that satan doesn’t take advantage of them. (1 Cor 7:1-5). We must not deny the God-given sexuality even though it had been perverted by the fall of man. Paul said if widows (or widowers) can’t exercise self-control, they should marry, because it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Cor 7:9).
In covenant, sacrifices are involved. The Bible says we should present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. (Rom 12:1). And in Psalm 50:5, God said: “Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” We can’t talk about covenant without sacrifice; that is why husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her and wives are also to submit themselves to their own husbands, as to the Lord. (Eph 5:22-25). I believe that one major reason for divorces and breakdown in marriages today, is the unwillingness of people to make sacrifices. No marriage can work without sacrifices. You are going to be willing to sacrifice your time, your dreams, your gifting, your will, etc; for your marriage to work. Don’t forget that marriage is between two people who are on their way to becoming one. You are not going to become one if you are not willing to leave so you can cleave! There are things you must be willing to leave – that is where sacrifice comes in. Sometimes you give up your favourite TV shows, your hobbies, etc just to make time to bond together.
However, in making the necessary sacrifices, your motive and attitude must be right! “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24). The Bible says we should let the same attitude that was in Christ, be in us. Jesus did not hold on to his right as being equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, took the form of a bondservant, coming in the likeness of man and humbled Himself and became obedient even to the shameful death of the cross. (Php. 2:5-8). Remember, husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life, but they need to learn to humble themselves in order to make their marriage work! Also remember, life is in phases! This helps a lot in the making of sacrifices! Whatever you give up today in sacrifice to make your marriage work, will come back to you bigger and better! Jesus said to John the Baptist, when he tried to prevent Jesus from being baptised by him: “Permit it to be so now…” (Matt 3:15) There are things you permit to be so for now. The men of faith refused a deliverance, so that they may obtain a better resurrection! (Heb. 11:35). Except a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it can’t bear much fruit. (Jn. 12:24). Don’t give up anything with a wrong attitude; whatever you give is not lost, it has gone into your future. You will reap an abundant harvest of peace and joy in your life and marriage. God can still resurrect those dreams, wishes and vision that you thought were long gone – in a better way! Without death and burial, there can be no resurrection. What is sown in corruption is raised in incorruption; what is sown in dishonour is raised in glory, what is sown in meekness is raised in power, what is sown a natural body is raised a spiritual body! (1 Cor 15:41-44). Whereas if you had tried to hold on to those things, you would have done so at the expense of becoming one. The Bible says God’s gifts and calling are without repentance. God knows how to bring those things back to you. Ecclesiastes 11:1 says: “Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.”
Lastly, on the adventure of becoming one, I would love to add that communication is very vital. Like I said, marriage is between two different people. We must learn the art of communication. Communication is not just about talking, it is about getting things across accurately! For example, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Pr. 15:1, 2, 4). Also in James 1:19-20: “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” No matter how bad things are, if we are able to keep the communication line open, then there is hope for the marriage. Husbands and wives must be willing to talk – of course at the right time. Ecclesiastes 3:7b says there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak. Actions sometimes can be louder than words; Peter told the wives that they could win their husbands by their conduct rather than words! (1 Pet 3:1-2).
Remember, marriage takes two people to work it out; two people who are willing to give themselves first to God and to each other selflessly and unconditionally. God is still looking for two people on the earth today who will say, with God, it is possible to have a successful marriage. “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:2).
God bless you richly!
Rev. Funke Ewuosho
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