Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Two Shall Become . . .?

One of the last things to do for the wedding of my daughter on the 27th is to prepare the bulletin. It looks like we're going to produce our own "in house," though we did look at several of the full color ones offered by various publishing houses.

There's one thing that has always struck me as a little strange. All of the full color professional bulletins that I saw cut short a particular marriage verse by rendering it, "The two shall become one." But that's not how the Bible has it. It's not "The two shall become one," but "The two shall become one flesh." Why do they always cut off that last word, flesh, on their bulletin covers?

Perhaps it doesn't seem very spiritual to be talking about flesh in church, but the marital union is not just a generic spiritual union but, as the wedding liturgy points out, a union of "heart, body, and mind." It could be that the bulletin designers are not particularly Lutheran in their theology and so didn't want to emphasize this more, shall we say, "sacramental" aspect of marriage. But the sexual union is part of the gift that God created and that He gives to a husband and wife when He marries them. "The two shall become one flesh" is also fulfilled, quite literally, in the procreation of children, when God grants it, from this union of husband and wife.

And let us not forget that marriage portrays our one-fleshness with Christ. Our union with Him, too, is a concrete, tangible reality. For ultimately, Jesus is the one who (in the language of Genesis 2) left His Father and was joined to His wife by means of His incarnation and the cross. He was put into the deep sleep of death, and out of His side the Church was created to be His Eve by the sacramental blood and water that flowed. Baptized into the risen Jesus, "we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (Ephesians 5:30 NKJV).

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