And the Two Shall Become One Flesh

This Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 10:2-16) gives me a chance to make a few points about the

glorious sacrament of Holy Matrimony in my homily and this bulletin reflection:

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.

So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Therefore what God has joined together,

no human being must separate.”

First, when asked about marriage, Jesus clearly refers to what Genesis says. In

Genesis, Yahweh reveals that He created male and female to be one. “And the two

shall become one flesh” represents the union that we call marriage. So, right away, in

the first book of the Bible, God defines marriage as being between a man and a

woman. Nature defines it that way, too. Jesus confirms Revelation and nature when

he says in this Gospel that marriage is between a male and a female. So, in the current

discussion on marriage, it’s important to be able to cite Mark 10.

Second, when does the man and woman become one flesh? In other words, when are

they officially married? When I ask engaged couples preparing for marriage this

question, almost all of them guess that it’s when the couple comes together in the

marital (conjugal) act. That would seem to be what the Lord is saying because it

sounds like a physical act for the two to become one flesh.

But, and this is really important to understand the difference between the Church’s

approach to marriage and sex versus the world’s, the two become one flesh when they

exchange their vows (consent) of marriage. They promise their lives to the other in

front of God and witnesses, and become one in soul, mind, and heart. It is at that

moment that “they are no longer two but one flesh”. They are no longer two ‘me’s’,

but one ‘we’. Their relationship is now sacred and holy. The physical act of sexual

union is sacred, indeed, and is reserved for the sacred relationships of matrimony. It

symbolizes the spiritual and sacred union that’s already in place, strengthens the

existing bond, and allows the couple to procreate, another huge aspect of marriage

that God reveals in Genesis (“be fruitful and multiply”).

Third, Jesus elevates matrimony to the level of a sacrament when He says, “what God

has joined together”. Like all of the sacraments, marriage is a sacred act (“an

efficacious sign of grace” – Catechism of the Catholic Church). In marriage prep, we

focus half of our energy on whether God is calling them to be married…if His plan is

to join them together. Is He really calling them to say these sacred words (or ones

similar to them) and become one flesh?

“I take you to be my (spouse). I promise to be true to you in good times and in

bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life”

–Sincerely in Christ,

Fr Greg