Divorce - Appendix I



There are a number of matters that perplex people concerning the marital relationship as spoken of in Scripture. This includes such things as what Scripture means when it talks about a man and a woman becoming 'one flesh'. The question of the meaning of this expression will be considered below.

One flesh (Genesis 2:24)

The relevant wording of the passage states that a man and his wife: "shall become one flesh" (JND Note: Lit. 'to one flesh' ). The wording is similar in Matthew 19:4-6 where Christ quotes the passage in Genesis saying: "Have ye not read that he who made [them], from the beginning made them male and female, and said, On account of this a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be united to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh? so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Again JND has a note to the words 'be one flesh'. This reads as follows: "Eis: Lit 'to one flesh' with the force of, 'shall become so,' 'be for it,' 'though two persons, no longer two:' see Note, 1 Cor 6.16. There is no eis in 'but one flesh' in ver. 6".

When we turn to 1 Corinthians 6:16/17 we have Paul saying: "Do ye not know that he [that is] joined to the harlot is one body? for the two, he says, shall be one flesh. But he that [is] joined to the Lord is one Spirit". The JND Note reads: " Lit. 'to (eis) one flesh.' In English 'shall' or 'shall become' is the nearest in sense. It corresponds to the Hebrew of Gen. 2.24. Eis is left out when he says 'one Spirit' in ver. 17. We are really 'one Spirit,' not two, with the Lord. But we cannot say, 'to' or 'for one flesh.' The two become so (i.e. 'one flesh' ) practically by their union; they are created individually. The union induces unity in the flesh; 'shall be,' or 'shall become' partly, though imperfectly, implies this: Matt. 19.5. It is not shall be one Spirit:' but 'he is.' The Spirit which is in the Lord himself dwells in us, and is the living power of the new life."

What all this tells us is that the object God had in bringing Eve to Adam was that they might become one. The union was to be in the flesh. It was not some mystical union but a simple physical one. There is no mystique about it. If we introduce such an idea we get into unreality. Scripture deals with realities. Rome is adept at talking about what is unreal and things that only exist in the imagination of the persons who propound them. The communion bread and wine are only literally the Lord's body and blood in the minds of those who accept Rome's ideas as to it. The thought is that the marriage should be consummated by physical union. It would appear that the relationship of Adam and Eve was not consummated until after sin came in (see Genesis 4:1). This was probably soon after their creation because the scriptural evidence would suggest that sin came in very early on and not many many years after their creation. This would, as others have pointed out, be in line with the early incoming of sin when God gave the law (Exodus 32); inaugurated the priesthood (Leviticus 10); set up the kingdom (1 Samuel 15) and in the New Testament constituted the assembly (Acts 5). In any case it was God's object that Adam and Eve should have children (Genesis 1:28) and copulation would be necessary for this. As will be seen from 1 Corinthians 6:16/17 the union of a man with a harlot means they are 'one body' and Paul bases this assertion on the fact that Scripture says they shall be 'one flesh'. There is no other sensible way of reading the passage. To make a difference between 'one body' and 'one flesh' when the body is a body of flesh leads to unreality and a highly artificial interpretation. The point of saying concerning a man and his wife that they are to become one flesh is that they are not that immediately they come together, but are to become so. The contrast is to the union of a

Christian with the Lord which subsists as soon as that person receives the Holy Spirit, that is, becomes a Christian.

If the idea of 'one flesh' means something other than what it appears to mean then confusion is almost certain to be the result. If it is taken to refer to something mystical which constitutes persons married, it would never be clear to whom this mystical relationship applies. People sometimes come together without any legal formalities (common law marriages). Though not recognised at the present time in the UK they may well be in other countries. Then some people get married, having both a civil and a religious ceremony, but some may have one and not the other. Does this mystical marriage apply to all couples who have sexual intercourse, in which case every man who has this is married to his partner even if she be a harlot. Does the 'one flesh' idea only apply to real Christians properly married, or does it also apply to all others, including those who have gone through the marriage rites of Jews, Moslems, Hindus and others ?

Paul makes it clear that a man who is joined to a harlot is 'one body', though the harlot cannot be said to be his wife. It does, however, show the seriousness of having illicit sexual relations. Being one body, that is, one flesh, cannot be equated with marriage but is what marriage leads to (to one flesh - Genesis 2:24). It is the man and his wife who are to be one flesh, becoming one flesh with someone else is confusion. Further, the expression 'to one flesh' shows that there should be no physical union