If we want to know anything about man, first we have to notice that he exists as a dual being, male and female. We have to start with the idea of “communion.” Adam and Eve were created to live in unity and harmony. And even in our fallen world, this remains God’s design for marriage.

“For this reason,” says Genesis 2:24, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When is this union realized? Most clearly, it is expressed when a husband and wife unite sexually, in the marriage act—giving their whole selves to each other and opening themselves to the creation of new life. This intimate union, where a man and a woman cling to each other so closely that they become one flesh, is made possible by our creation as male and female.

Every time a husband and wife come together in this way, they rediscover the mystery of creation. Looking in each other’s eyes, they recognize their common humanity, reenacting in a special way that first meeting of man and woman, when Adam declared, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23).

Sex is a powerful bond established by the Creator. But it is far more than just a biological drive. In becoming one flesh, husband and wife are no longer two separate individuals—each takes the other in, expanding the meaning of “self.” They are now a communion of persons. The body, through its masculinity and femininity, makes this communion possible.

As Genesis 2 tells us, human beings were created for unity. Right from the beginning, Genesis also indicates, this unity depends on a choice. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). To become husband and wife, a man and woman must choose to cling to each other. This kind of mutual self-giving can only come about by free choice—it can’t be forced.

In all times and places, every time a husband and wife unite so closely as to become one flesh, they discover anew the unifying significance of the body. Each of these unions renews the mystery of creation in all its depth and power. When a husband and wife come together in purity of heart, it is not so much a loss of virginity as a rediscovery of the original, virginal value of man and woman.

Formed in the image of God, and uniting to form a communion of persons, Adam and Eve became the model of marriage for all future couples. That is why Christ appealed to this story in his response to the Pharisees—it was still relevant in Jesus’ time, and it is just as relevant today.

Originally posted 2019-05-21 12:26:48.