Two people headed on their way to divorce court proceedings. You bump into one of them and have a moment to share something as they step into the nearby Starbucks to get a little caffeinated backbone on the way to the conflict. What would you say?
Jesus' enemies tried to trap him in a discussion about divorce and his answer sounds a lot more like advice for those about to be married (Matthew 19:3-9). He talks about God's plan from the beginning to have two lives become one, for the rest of life. In fact, the Lord's words suggest four ways these two people become one:
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV).
Let's look at these four ways of two becoming one.
The first dimension in which two become one is socially — indicated by their plan to "be united" (leave and cleave in the older translations) and change their relationship with their parents and those around them. This shift, this transition, is an indication to everyone that they intend to love each other and care for each other and look to each other as family. Each pledges to make a marriage by depending and relying on the other as the primary support in his or her life, rather than looking to parents. In reality, unless this shift is made, it is hard for the two to become one.
The second dimension that two become one is physically — indicated by the words "the two will become one flesh." This is talking about the sexual union of man and a woman who are married, but it goes deeper than that. The celebration of physical intimacy and the union that it brings between a husband and wife is a great blessing and an ongoing way of deepening their oneness. Physical connection, closeness, and fulfillment are crucial to two people becoming one.
The third dimension that two become one in marriage is emotionally — as Jesus said, they are "no longer two, but one." The emotional attachment is so strong, that Paul says it is as if they are one body that is nourished and given loving care (Ephesians 5:28-30). Over the years, they will often be able to complete each other's sentences, know each other's thoughts by just seeing the other's expression, and they will not sleep well when apart because they have become emotionally fused into one life together. Being emotionally tied together is not only natural, it is necessary for love to deepen.
The fourth dimension of one is that they become spiritually one — as Jesus says, they are "what God has joined together" as they enter into covenant with each other and with God. Not only do they individually belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but together they are his both body and spirit — "Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit" (Malachi 2:15 NIV).
One of the reasons infidelity and divorce is so devastating is because it rips apart people at each of these four levels of their being. It tears them to pieces in the all the ways that they are people — socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is why Jesus is so tender with those hurt by it (John 4:4-42 — notice how carefully and tenderly Jesus deals with the woman). This is also why Jesus speaks so strongly about divorce in this passage (Matthew 19:7-12).
Yet rather than focus on the negative and what is lost in divorce, what would happen if we each made a determined effort to deepen our marriage relationship in all of these four areas — socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
Here are some questions that could be helpful for us to ask ourselves at the end of each week:
- What have I done to deepen my relationship with my spouse by how I talked and demonstrated my love for him/her in front of my friends and family?
- How have I sought to bring pleasure and fulfillment to my marriage partner in our physical relationship?
- When have I made myself emotionally available and been emotionally supportive of my wife/husband this past week?
- What are we doing as a couple to deepen our spiritual walk with God together?
Clearly there are other questions we can ask to help us highlight these areas of our connectedness with each other, but these are a beginning point. The key is that we begin to invest in each of these areas and ask ourselves how we can deepen our marriage relationship in each area!
The world's goal for relationships, especially sexually tied relationships, is the sizzle of love at first sight. However, God wants to bless us with much more. The Father wants to furnish his children a taste of heaven — a relationship that lasts. A relationship with a person who won't abandon us if they truly know us. A relationship that will deepen and let love become richer and fuller as time passes. This kind of love is "love at last sight."* It's what we want and desperately need. It's the kind of love Jesus wants us to discover. This is love that lasts a lifetime and bonds two people together in crazy math: 1 + 1 = 1, socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
This is love for a lifetime. This is love at last sight!
* See the book by Kerry & Chris Shook, Love at Last Sight: 30 Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships — learn more here: http://hlt.me/txc1NB
Please enjoy this YouTube video made from Mark Schultz's beautiful song called, "Walking Her Home" — you can see it here: http://hlt.me/sJAVgO