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Two Become One Flesh

If you’ve ever heard me teach, you know—sooner or later—I’m going to talk about the story of Adam and Eve. It’s not because I’m obsessed with the story (although I admit that I am); it’s because the account has served as the backbone for much of Western thought and culture, including the subjects of sex and marriage.

In the account of Adam and Eve, we are told, “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This brief statement has served as the model for marriage in the Western world, outlining the union between a man and a woman in a sacred, three-step process.


The first step in marriage is for a man “to leave” his father and mother, meaning that the man is to exit the protective care of his parents; he is to step out on his own and establish his independence. This leaving is not a severing of the parent-child relationship, but a recognition that the man is no longer under his parent’s authority. Leaving one’s parents is an essential step in getting married, and if you’ve ever watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, you’ve seen the conflict and chaos that inevitably occurs when a man refuses “to leave” his mother and father.


The second step in marriage is for a man “to cleave” to his wife. The verb that’s used here can be translated as “unite,” “bond,” “cling,” or “cleave,” and conveys the idea of two separate entities being joined together. In the context of Genesis 2, a man is supposed to form a permanent connection to his wife to replace the bond that he previously shared with his parents. This union of a man and a woman is typically recognized and celebrated by the couple’s family and friends through a formal, public ceremony—a wedding—in which the couple makes a lifelong commitment to one another.

Two Become One Flesh

The final step in marriage is for the two to become one flesh, which traditionally occurs on the couple’s wedding night as they consummate their marriage by having intercourse for the first time. Yes, “they will become one flesh” is a euphemism for sex. Now I understand that it’s in vogue these days to say that the two becoming one flesh reflects a oneness more mysterious and wonderful than sex alone, and I realize that such a mystical teaching makes for a transcendent-sounding sermon, but it’s a weak interpretation of the expression that cheapens both sex and marriage.

If you search the Bible to see how this expression is used, you’ll discover that it’s always mentioned in the context of marriage, except in one instance. 1 Corinthians 6:16 states “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure that when a man unites himself with a prostitute it means that they had sex. And I don’t think prostitution is the oldest profession because men have an insatiable desire for emotional and spiritual oneness.

The idea of “two becoming one flesh” is a vivid and dramatic image of intercourse. And by saying that it’s more than sex or something other than sex, misses the meaning and purpose of sex. Sex is not merely a physical act for personal gratification. Sex is a holistic experience that engages our mind, body, soul, and spirit, and it’s the ultimate expression of intimacy between a man and a woman, making the two one flesh. That’s why sex between two people forms a lasting bond between them whether they know it or not, whether they want it or not. Sex is never just sex.

So what do we do? As I mentioned in a previous post, in today’s world most adults are having sex, most couples are engaging in intercourse before marriage, and most individuals lose their virginity long before their wedding day. What is a girl supposed to do when her boyfriend dumps her after they have sex for the first time? What is a man supposed to do when he feels guilty for becoming one flesh with more women than he can remember? And what should a pastor say to a couple in pre-marital counseling that has been sexually active for most of their relationship?

Now that we have defined sex and marriage from a biblical perspective, these are some of the real-life situations we will address in the weeks to come.

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About Leon Hayduchok


  1. Steve Marsh says:

    i wish there was a like button, cause I dont have anything to add, but am engaged in it.

  2. Nikki Thornton says:

    100% on point!

  3. In my generation its hard to believe that a man with such power will wait till marriage to have sex with me. With So many women more beautiful willing to do it, i get confused of the right moment to become one flesh. Im 32. Maybe the next time Ill wait n see if the next one will really want to go all the way.

  4. Very close.

    Sexual intercourse is the marriage. The marriage of two flesh into one. Only Virgins and Widows are eligible for a righteous union. Why widows? Because only death breaks the one flesh bond.

    Why is it a sin against the flesh to have sex with a harlot?


  1. […] That’s what I’ll try to do next time in a piece titled, The Two Become One Flesh. […]

  2. […] the definitive blueprint for marriage. He intended to perfectly blend two unique personalities into One Flesh. With God’s marital design husband and wife would be as one. Where one stopped and the other […]

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