How to Start Your New Family: Part 3

Many relationships have committed to a marriage covenant and have agreed to make the new family primary over all of our other family relationships, but how do we actually begin the process of weaving a life together? This third post we will focus on the third part of our key verse, “and they shall become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

One Flesh: By ourselves we are just a ball of yarn, but with our spouse we are a beautiful tapestry. To “Weave” two lives into one is to weave two different color threads into one tapestry.

This includes-but-is-not-limited-to joint bank accounts, synced calendars, shared vehicles, unmarked cartons of milk in the fridge, parenting style, vacation plans, investments (no prenups!), church attendance, future plans, future goals, and much more!

I love real Christmas trees. Every year, my dad would take our family out to a tree farm (or sometimes the woods!) and we would go looking for the perfect tree. Sometimes, the process took hours (as I remember it), but my dad always found a perfectly tapered, full, well-sized tree for our Christmas traditions. Each kid was given a turn to use a rusty old saw (which I still use) to cut down that year’s Perrott Christmas tree.

However, my wife did not value that tradition as much as I did. The sticky sap, dead needles, daily watering, and timely disposal of a real Christmas tree ruined her nostalgia. Each year, my wife and I had a disagreement about the Christmas Tree in early December. While I was probably a bit stubborn, my wife saw how important that tradition was to me and chose to weave my old family tradition into our new family tradition. My wife has been gracious enough to agree that, for now, our family tradition will include going to a tree farm to cut down a real tree! That was a sacrifice on her part in order to weave our two separate lives into one!

I met someone one time who was thinking of getting married. The only problem was that their fiancé of several years lived on the East Coast while they lived in Iowa, and they had no plans to move near to one another. This is not two lives woven into one. This is two separate lives remaining separate but gaining tax advantages.

The “roommate syndrome” can be just as bad as two people in different states. This is where both spouses become so busy with their own lives and goals that the only thing they share is a house, and maybe a favorite TV show.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

When two spouses are truly united together in life, they are nearly unbreakable. They can face financial difficulties, deaths in the family, moves, job loss, sickness, and anything else without breaking. However, when one partner starts to pull away and become independent, both the marriage and the spouses are vulnerable. We need to work at union with our spouse in every area of our life–not being needy, but mutual dependent–so that, when difficult times attack us, we can overcome them together

One Flesh: To “Receive” has the idea of gently and graciously accepting the other person just as they are (this does not mean that we accept their sin, but it means that we love them while helping them to overcome their sin). This is intimacy or “into-me-see.” The next verse, Genesis 2:25, comments that Adam and Eve were both “naked and unashamed.” I don’t think this is something that is merely physical. I think that Adam and Eve were able to be completely emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually naked and unashamed with one another. They each accepted one another graciously, and they each were completely intimate with one another.

This kind of intimacy cannot be found in a relationship where one person is thinking about leaving. This intimacy can only be found in a relationship that is glued together. The foundation of “receiving” one another is “holding fast” to one another. In other words, in order for two people to experience this level of intimacy and acceptance, both spouses must be all-in on the relationship.

How can you practically “receive” one another?

  • We must risk transparency. Some have been hurt or damaged by others, but everyone can experience the intimacy that they long for in a faithful, committed relationship with someone else.
  • We must respond to one another gently and gracious. This is especially when the other person is opening up to you, because this affirms that you are a safe person to whom that they can open up.
  • We must restore one another humbly and freely. We will wrong one another, but we need to forgive and ask forgiveness freely. This means no strings attached—just as warm, willing, free forgiveness to our spouse.

Sex within a marriage commitment is a beautiful and wonderful thing. As both spouses love each other graciously and risk transparency, they become one flesh. This is a beautiful and good thing as long as there is no risk of hurt or unfaithfulness. Sex becomes an insecure and fearful thing when there is a risk of hurt or unfaithfulness. This is why marriage is necessary for sex: not because God likes to keep us from fun, but because God wants us to enjoy secure, transparent, loving intimacy, rather than risk-filled, selfish, insecure transparency. God’s command to keep sex within marriage is a kind command for our good.

The Gospel and One Flesh

There is only One who completely sees everything about us.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. 

We can try to fake who we are to God, but he knows the truth. We can try to hide our sins and cover them up with good works, but he knows every dirty secret about us. Every sin is an insult to God’s goodness and holiness. Every sin makes us an enemy of god. Our exposure to him is a dangerous thing:

Hebrews 12:29 Our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God

God’s Word does not tell us to cover our sins away from God’s sight through good works. The gospel tells us that although God sees us exactly how we are, he is willing to forgive our sins and accept us.

Romans 3:20, 23-24 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

The consuming fire of God’s wrath for our sin was poured out on Jesus Christ so that we could be forgiven. Anyone who trusts in God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ does not have to fear exposure to God. Instead of fear, we can have confidence before God and draw near to him, knowing that he has forgiven us and loves us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.