It’s a delicate and biblical way to put it, but Genesis 2:24 is an obvious reference to sexual union: “And they shall become one flesh.” When we experience sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex, physically we become one with that person (see 1 Cor. 6:16).
But beyond that obvious meaning of “one flesh,” Genesis 2:24 states a law of marriage that permeates every area of life. I call this the law of possession, and it is the key to establishing trust and intimacy in a relationship.
Once husbands and wives understand and submit to this law, it can result in a deeper unity in marriage. But if we break this law—even innocently, or unintentionally—it may severely damage the relationship.
Marriage is supposed to be a complete union. Before the marriage, the two individuals owned and managed their things separately. But when they joined their lives in holy matrimony, they joined everything. What was once owned and managed individually is now owned and managed jointly. No exceptions.
Anything in marriage that’s not willfully submitted to the other person’s ownership ends up being held onto outside the union—and that kind of arrangement is loaded with danger. It often produces legitimate jealousy.
Why? Because it exists outside the “one flesh” God intends for marriages. If there is something a spouse is unwilling to merge into the marriage—whether it’s something material, physical, or emotional—then that spouse is breaking the law of possession. He or she is violating the rights of his or her spouse.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. (NIV)
In a marriage, Paul is saying, ownership changes. No longer do we manage our bodies alone, on our own, but we share them with our spouse. This isn’t a license for abuse or getting weird; it is simply God’s law of possession in operation.
Your body is not your own. Your things are not your own. Your life is not your own. It is now shared with another person. You are one flesh.
If anything is placed outside this mutual ownership, you can expect division and problems. Don’t even start down that road. Surrender to joint ownership and control, and you will begin building a spirit of trust and intimacy in your relationship.
Keep that in mind as you and your spouse spend the week as “one flesh.” Next week, we’ll look at one example of the damage that can occur when the law of possession is violated—in the bedroom.