CBN.com If God uses physical things, the things He has made and created, to reveal spiritual truth, why did God make us male and female with the ability to have sexual relations? I can understand a snake being made to reveal some things about the devil (he hides, is sneaky, is looking for unsuspecting prey to kill and devour). I can understand sheep being made to reveal some things about Christ (listening to the voice of His master and even going faithfully without resistance to His death.) But what could sexuality represent?
I hope your adventurous side likes mysteries, because we sure have one! The good news is we know where to find the evidence. We will find it scattered throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Most mysteries begin with a few clues, and since I have already discovered a few, this is my opportunity to whet your appetite for the hunt.
Before we look at our first scripture, I think a little mental exercise might just help get our minds up to speed. (Some of us do not use them like we should.) I will share a couple of sentences with you, and I want you to compare and contrast their contents. That is, I want you to find what in them is similar and what is different.
Sentence 1: “The bulldozer pushed over the building.” Sentence 2: “The wind pushed over the building.” When we compare the two, we see that in both cases something pushed over a building. In contrast, something we can see pushed over the first building (in my mind I imagine a yellow bulldozer), while something we cannot see (wind) pushed over the second building. (We cannot see the wind itself, though we can see the results of what it has done, like blowing leaves.) Get the general idea?
Our first scripture is 1 Corinthians 6:16-17. We will use the same comparing and contrasting techniques as above to examine the two italicized sentences. “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘the two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
Comparing the first and the last sentence, I see both refer to a man joining himself to something else and becoming one with it. In contrast, in the first sentence the man is joining his body to a woman’s body, and they become one body. In the second sentence, the man who joins himself (his spirit) to God is one spirit with God. Human bodies are something we can see. They are physical things. A man’s spirit and God’s spirit are not things we can normally see. They are spiritual things.
I see this. Two things we can see and two things we cannot see are doing the same thing. When they are joined together, they become one.
What makes this significant? Remembering that God uses physical things to reveal spiritual truth, my question is, “Is God using the union of these physical bodies to reveal something about the spiritual union that is possible between God and man?” The word “but” that begins the second sentence is a conjunction that joins it to the first sentence. This tells me the author, the apostle Paul, did intend to join these two ideas.
Looking back over the whole passage, I recognize another difference. The first sentence tells us indirectly what joined the man and the woman’s bodies together. The woman in the sentence worked at a certain trade. She was a prostitute. That the writer used this word tells us he was talking about these two having a sexual relationship when he said the man who joins himself to her “is one body with her.” The middle sentence of this passage also begins with a conjunction, the word for. It connects this middle sentence to the first. Paul is saying that this physical sexual union that causes the two to become one body is in accord with something God had previously said, “The two shall become one flesh.” When did God say this? During Adam and Eve’s wedding ceremony. It is recorded in Genesis 2:24. In contrast, the second sentence does not tell us what joins a man spiritually to God. (Are you wondering what that thing might be? Me, too.)
Moving toward our next scripture, 1 Corinthians 6:16 only partially quotes Genesis 2:24, but it led me to look at another New Testament scripture that completely quotes Genesis 2:24. Before we go there, let me point out something from 1 Corinthians 6:16-17. “The two shall become one flesh,” was clearly referring to something physical—the sexual union of a man and a woman. I believe this will be significant when we contrast this passage with our next scripture.
Our next scripture passage is Ephesians 5:31-32, but before I quote it, let me share a little background from the verses that precede it. Ephesians 5:22-30 talks about the mental, emotional, and even spiritual aspects of the husband/wife relationship. It provides encouragement and instruction to those with marital struggles. Toward the end it transitions and begins to compare the husband and wife relationship to the relationship of Christ and the church. (This was written to Christians, and the author seems to be using their spiritual knowledge to help them understand some things about the marital relationship.)
This brings us to our clue. Ephesians 5:31-32 says, “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
Comparing, in the first sentence we again see a man being joined to a woman, in this case to his wife. In the second sentence, from context, we again see God (Christ) joined to men or mankind. So far the initial comparisons of 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 hold true here also. Still, there is one more contrast to be made.
As we saw, “the two shall become one flesh” in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 clearly referred to the physical sexual union of a man and woman. Here in Ephesians 5:31-32 it starts in that direction also, talking about a husband and wife being joined, but then takes a different direction. It says, “This mystery is great, but I am [actually] speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” In other words, “the two shall become one flesh” is really referring here to the spiritual union of a man to God. The relationship of Christ and the church is not something physical. That this calls this a mystery clues us in that the author intended for us to understand that the meaning of this passage went beyond its most obvious use.
The verse following this passage, Ephesians 5:33, confirms “the two shall become one flesh” is actually referring to something spiritual, saying, “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
Contrasting the two passages, in 1 Corinthians 6, men were being encouraged to not join themselves to prostitutes, because they would become one with them. (For background, in the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 7, husbands and wives are instructed to have frequent sexual relations with each other.) In Ephesians 5 Paul was instructing husbands and wives to fulfill their various duties to each other in their marital relationship. Sexual activity was not discouraged; it was being used in a positive way to reveal the oneness of the spiritual relationship between Christ and the church. Is this significant? In light of Romans 1:20, does this mean God made us male and female and instituted marriage in order to reveal something about the spiritual relationship a man can have with God? It seems to indicate this to me, but we will need to find more evidence to confirm that.
(Does the fact that the man and woman are married have anything to do with this sexual relationship being chosen to reveal something about this spiritual relationship? Since both of these passages quote “the two shall become one flesh” from the original wedding ceremony, it certainly is possible.)
Summary and Conclusion
So far we have seen that God uses the physical things He has created to reveal spiritual truths. We have also seen twice where the sexual union of a man and woman is paralleled with a spiritual relationship between a man/mankind and God. On the contrast side, we have seen the phrase “the two shall become one flesh” refer to something physical (the physical sexual relationship) and to something spiritual (the relationship between Christ and the Church). In the latter case, this is called a mystery.
I have shared with you a couple of wonderful clues. I feel we have even made good progress on our journey. Where should we look next? Since we have seen Genesis 2:24 quoted twice, it seems logical that we should look there next. The word genesis does mean beginning, and it also makes sense that we should examine the beginning of man and woman and that first marital/sexual relationship. Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go back to the genesis.
Excerpted from Why God Created Us Male and Female, Copyright 2005, Published by Pleasant Word Publishing, a Division of WinePress Publishing. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited
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