20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:20-24; ESV)
One of the interesting turns lately in society is the questioning of marriage. Why get married? What is the point? Isn’t marriage antiquated? It is as if people think some person, some long time ago, sat down and thought up this whole marriage thing, and now we are questioning that person. Marriage is given by God. People did not make up marriage as some sort of social experiment. Carefully notice that God gave marriage as the answer for Adam finding someone who is a suitable companion and partner. Companionship is not found in living together. The world says: “just live together.” God says no.
What Is Marriage?
One would think that we do not need to define marriage, yet marriage has been greatly misunderstood. Therefore, it is important to define marriage according to the description of the scriptures. When you find the person you desire to be your companion, God has given the following instructions in verse 24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
The first step in marriage is leaving the previous family unit. By reading about people like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob we know that this does not mean the total ending of all familial responsibilities. We also know that “leaving” does not mean moving across the country. “Leaving” means a change of priorities. Marriage is a shifting of responsibilities. No longer does the person have a primary responsibility to the parent, but to the spouse.
The second step in marriage is “holding fast.” Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 19:5. The Greek word translated “hold fast” that Jesus used is kollao which means “to glue or weld together; to adhere to” (Mounce). This word gives us a picture of the permanence of marriage.Â There is a joining together that takes place in marriage. The two are glued or welded together, such that the two cannot no longer be separated because they are one flesh.
Often this text of holding fast and becoming one flesh is simply described as permission for sexual relations. I believe the implication for sexual relations is found here, and we will speak more about this in another post, but sexual relations is not the primary point. The context of the sentence is not about sexual relations. The context is about leaving family. Therefore, the picture is about leaving one family unit and the creation of a new family unit, by holding fast to his wife and becoming one flesh.
A frequent question these days is about the need for a marriage ceremony and obtaining a marriage license. People sometimes ask if we can just mentally ascent to marriage. This text tells us no. Since marriage is about the leaving of one family unit and the creation of a new family unit, there must be some sort of action taken to notify society that a new family unit has been created. There must be some sort of action taken to inform society that these two people have made the decision to be glued together. This is why we cannot simply mentally ascent to marriage. Marriage is the creation of a new family unit and the marriage license identifies to the government that this family unit has been created. Somehow society must be informed that this covenant has been made and this new family unit has been created.