Did you know that 1+1=1? Certainly, this is nowhere near the correct answer if you are attempting a basic arithmetic problem. But it is the right response to God’s design for marriage, where the two become one.
Last night our small group began a new Bible study, receiving some assistance from Wayne Mack’s 1977 book Strengthening Your Marriage. I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Mack this past October at a counseling conference in Indy.
In the first chapter of his book,1 Mack looks at a significant statement on marriage that is found four times in the Bible.
Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
This statement is made once before the fall of man (Gen 2:24), and three times after he fell into sin (Matt 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; Eph 5:31). Consider it as an all-time prescription—for the husband and his bride to have a healthy marriage.
The first principle in this verse directs the married couple to leave their parents. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother,” (Gen 2:24, emphasis mine).
To leave your parents means that your relationship to your parents must be radically changed. It means you establish an adult relationship with them… that you must be more concerned about your mate’s ideas, opinions, and practices… that you make the husband and wife relationship your priority human relationship.
The second principle from Gen 2:24 involves the idea of cleaving, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife” (emphasis mine).
A good marriage is based more on commitment… an irrevocable covenant or contract to which we are bound. Therefore, when two people get married they promise that they will be faithful to each other regardless of what happens…
Marriage means that a husband and wife enter into a relationship for which they accept full responsibility and in which they commit themselves to each other regardless of what problems arise.
The third and final principle from this verse speaks to the concept of oneness, “and they shall become one flesh,” (v. 24, emphasis mine).
Indeed, the marriage act is the symbol or culmination of a more complete oneness, of a total giving of yourself to another person… marriage is a total commitment and total sharing of the total person with another person until death… a team… no more two, but one flesh.
Godly marriages reflect God’s design. What does this look like? The man and woman joined together must “leave and cleave.” A couple will have a radically changed relationship with their parents (in a loving and honorable way); and they will make each other their priority (second only to a vertical relationship with God).
It is a biblically-based marriage which will add up to the number ONE. Always and every time. Remember, 1+1=1.
1 Mack, Wayne A. Strengthening Your Marriage, second edition 1999 (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1977). ix-13.