As Moses concludes his narrative on the creation of Adam and Eve, he tells us that in creating woman, God provided marriage. Today’s passage is foundational for how we are to understand marriage, which was demonstrated by Jesus when He appealed to it in order to clarify God’s will regarding divorce (Matt. 19:1–9).
Genesis 2:24 gives us four essential elements of the marital bond. First, and fundamental to the relationship, is its being between one man and one woman. This should go without saying, but recent attempts in the West to expand the definition of marriage make it necessary never to forget this essential truth about marriage.
Second, verse 24 asserts that a man will “leave” his parents. The idea here is not that the man will abandon his filial responsibilities or that he must live a great distance from his family. This term instead indicates that his primary obligations change in marriage. Prior to the wedding, he is to be most concerned with his parents. Once married, meeting his wife’s needs becomes his first responsibility.
Third, the man is to “hold fast” to his wife, alluding to the permanent, exclusive nature of marriage. The image, rendered as “cleave to” in other translations, also suggests passion between spouses.
Finally, husband and wife are to become “one flesh.” Marriage is a God-ordained bond, a gift of His grace for which we give thanks by obeying His will for it. Becoming one flesh suggests God-honoring intimacy in all areas of the relationship — emotionally, sexually, spiritually, and the like. To achieve this intimacy, husband and wife must follow the roles God ordained for them in His Word. Each spouse must likewise be honest and respectful toward each other and do all they can to help, and not hinder, the other’s sanctification (Ex. 20:14,16; Judg. 16:1–22; Prov. 5; 31:10–31; 1 Cor. 7:1–16; Eph. 5:22–33).
Before Moses concludes chapter 2, he writes that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed (v. 25). In Eden the goals for marriage could be easily achieved because there was no danger of one spouse shaming the other in any way. However, this blissful state did not endure, and we will examine its demise in the coming weeks.
How closely does your marriage approximate Adam and Eve’s relationship in the garden? Do you try to meet your spouse’s desire for shame-free intimacy on all levels? Or do you ignore his or her emotional and physical needs? Take time to discuss your marriage with your spouse today, and seek ways you can serve one another better. If you are single, make amends with any other person you may have shamed in word or deed.