1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Becoming One Flesh
What is the secret to enduring marriages?
Walk into any congregation in the United States, and you are going to see couples with an impressive marital track record, people who have been together for 30, 50, even 70 years. These unions are rarely without stress and strain, and many have overcome obstacles of illness, loss, and unfaithfulness. Such enduring marriages are amazing and inspiring.
So, what is their secret? The apostle Paul boils it down to six words: “The two will become one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16). Two people, one flesh. When the two become one, a 70-year marriage becomes possible.
Becoming one flesh begins with each of us understanding who we are. “Don’t you know that your bodies are parts of Christ?” asks Paul (verse 15). We are not just flesh-and-blood creatures — mammals who walk on two legs, communicate via spoken language, and share pictures on Facebook. We are children of God and followers of Jesus Christ, people who are nothing less than the physical presence of the Risen Jesus in the world today. Since the “one who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him,” our identity as Christians is going to shape the choices we make in our daily lives (verse 17).
Each day, we are given opportunities to be honest or deceitful, faithful or unfaithful, sacrificial or selfish, brave or cowardly. If we don’t know who we are, we are probably going to do what feels easiest or most comfortable at the moment. But if we know that our bodies are “parts of Christ,” we’re going to make more Christ-like choices.
Knowing who we are also influences the relationships we develop. We need to choose our partners carefully, because two people become one flesh whenever they become intimately involved, and Paul says that “anyone who is joined to someone who is sleeping around is one body with that person” (verse 16).
He’s right. In a physical sense, it is quite easy for two people to become one, so we need to make sure that our choices are in harmony with our deepest convictions. “Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves?” Paul asks. “You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body” (verses 19-20). Your body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (verse 19), deserving of care and respect. It should not be joined to anyone or anything that is going to reduce its value.
Know who you are — a member of Christ. Choose your partner carefully, since your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Once you are clear about yourself and your partner, you have the potential to enjoy an enduring marriage, where the two become one flesh, for 30, 50, or even 70 years.
Fill me with love and faithfulness, Lord, and help my relationships to endure. Amen.