Being One Flesh

Identity in Christ
Scott PToday our guest of honor is Scott Perkins from Choose to Trust. I’ve gleaned so much practical wisdom that’s firmly based upon God’s word at Scott’s blog. If you haven’t visited his site already, then be sure to bookmark it! You’ll be glad you did!

 

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“Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Matthew 19:4 – 6

Reading this verse causes me to think of the movie Runaway Bride. In this movie, Maggie – played by Julia Roberts – dates several men consecutively to the point of receiving a marriage proposal and then runs out on the wedding ceremony.

A reporter, investigating these phenomena, finds when asking each boyfriend what type of eggs Maggie liked that the answer is different from each man. One says “fried, just like me”; another says “scrambled with salt, pepper and dill, just like me”; the next says “poached, just like me”; and the last replies “garden omelet, egg whites only, just like me.”

This is what most of us think when we talk about a ‘one flesh’ marriage. Maybe not to this extreme, but our idea is that we will like the same things as our spouse, spend all of our waking, non-working moments with them, and be each other’s source of happiness and fulfillment forever and ever. One big blob of flesh with four arms, four legs, and a single mind.

That picture of ‘one flesh’ is an emotionally fused relationship.

Emotional fusion is when your definition of self – your sense of worth and significance – is dependent upon what another (in this case a spouse) reflects back to you. Be it praise or criticism, identity is enmeshed with the relationship. It is hard to know where you stop and your spouse begins.

Emotional fusion is a covering for shame; receiving a positive reflection by doing the things that get a positive reaction and avoiding the things that reflect negatively is the foundation of identity.

For Maggie, fusion took the form of liking the same things her partner liked. That way she would receive approval and acceptance.

For others of us, it takes the form of needing our spouse to be sexually responsive to us so we feel desirable.

Or it can take the form of serving our spouse – keeping a perfect home, raising kids that behave, or earning enough to buy the best things – to earn the praise that is necessary to prop up the sense of worth.

On and on the examples could go. Fusion is the giving away of your self in order to gain a sense of acceptance, significance, security or worth – the feeling of wholeness all of us naturally desire as image bearers of God.

Fusion is counterfeit intimacy. Fusion is a false form of ‘one flesh’.

Problem is – fusion takes a lot of energy. And the rewards diminish over time. As the relationship progresses and the old things that brought positive reflection are no longer effective, it leads to spouses questioning their own worth, ‘falling out of love’, depression, and resentment.

In the garden, Adam declaration that the two would become one flesh was made as he and Eve were in their shame free state. They had no physical or emotional covering; there were no walls in their relationship.

Becoming a ‘one flesh’ cannot happen in a relationship as long as it is the source of either spouse’s identity.

Being ‘one flesh’ in marriage means that the relationship is not the source of security, affirmation, control, or value.

Those issues of identity need to be rooted in Christ.

 

Then the husband can love his wife without feeling like he is being used up or in constant need of affirmation.

Then the wife can submit to her husband without feeling like she is giving up her power and identity.

Then both spouses can show grace and forgiveness without feeling like they are losing a part of their value or sense of who they are.

Relating to another in marriage shows us all the ways we deal with our sense of shame. Friction results when the strategies and defenses of the false self are experienced by another who is trying to know us.

Marriage provides the opportunity for growth, directed by God when our identities are surrendered to Christ.

With the truth of who we are – the true self – securely rooted in Christ, each spouse can move toward the other without the covering of the false self.

Then the two can truly becoming ‘one flesh’, with no ‘fig leaves’ of the false self between the husband and wife.

 

In what ways do you use your marriage for your sense of worth?

 

 

Scott is the Associate Pastor at the Church of the Ascension in Orlando, Florida. He has been married for almost 19 years to his wife Missy and they have a teenage daughter named Sarah Grace. In addition to pastoring, Scott is a certified life coach specializing in leadership, relationships, and spirituality. On his blog he enjoys writing about identity in Christ, the false self, and relationships and is crafting his thoughts into a book titled Getting Real: Developing Your Identity in Christ. You can find out more, check out his writings, or find contact info at http://choosetotrust.com

 

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I, Beth, will be taking a two week Christmas break after this Wedded Wednesday for some much needed undivided family time! Wedded Wednesdays will return the evening of January 7th, 2014. In the meantime, I’d love to enlist you as a prayer warrior in my journey out of breast cancer. You can click on the button below and it will take you to my Caringbridge site, appropriately named …

MMammo

Joining with NOBH, Works for Me Wednesday, To Love Honor and Vacuum, Wisdom Wednesday, Whimsical Wednesday and Wholehearted Wednesday

Now, it’s time for Wedded Wednesday!

WW rules:

Write in any way you feel inspired about marriage, parenthood or anything that is spiritually encouraging.

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Come join our Wednesday Link-up!

  • JosephPote

    “Being ‘one flesh’ in marriage means that the relationship is not the source of security, affirmation, control, or value.”
    Wise words!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Joseph. We will receive affirmation and security from our marriage. And there is nothing wrong with a healthy desire for those things. But, when it becomes something we need to feel worth or to feel right with God then we are in a place in which our identity is misplaced.

  • Great post Scot! When Christ is indeed at the root, our marriages would be free from the covering of false self. Thanks a lot for sharing and hosting us Beth. Do have a super blessed Merry Christmas and New Year in advance!
    Love

    • Thanks for stopping by. Relationships are such a large part of who we were created to be that we often fool our self into thinking it is ok to expect more out of marriage than we should. Then we become reliant upon our spouse to boost up our sense of self.

  • Thank you for the post today! I think it is a great reminder. We are all human and must rely on God! Even when we feel we are doing things for the good they sometimes are not the best!

    • It is a tough road because our old nature constantly tries to pull us toward old, comfortable patterns and instant gratification. Thanks for reading!

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    Friend, I hope you enjoy your break. Thank you for this post today. I just tried to have this discussion with someone last week and felt I didn’t do it justice. Your words here are so perfect. I can’t wait to share this. Many Christmas blessings and prayers to you and yours.

  • bluecottonmemory

    It took me until I was 40 to realize that my o.k.-ness was contigent on me with God not me with my husband. It took a lot of pressure off of both of us. Love this article – especially when I think of young married couples trying to establish healthy expectations of their roles, tasks and relationship.
    Wishing you much! much! blessing during this holiday season Beth. Praying you have peaceful sleep and restful dreams. Praying that each day you find the His love letters to you just when you need them! Praying for you – got you on a post-it note!

    • Better late than never! The irony is that when we release our spouse of the obligation of subsisting our identity, we get what we want from our differentiated partner.

  • Brightstar

    I love this post! I’d like to read more on this 🙂 I’ve been married for 6 months and i want to be able to work on this more early on instead of later. Any reading suggestions?

    • I do have a few, but I want to run them by Beth before posting them here. A couple are secular so must be read through that lens.

  • I just love the way you compare the counterfeit that we often embrace and believe alongside the true, right and Godly perspective, Scott. When I see them spelled out like you’ve done here, it leaves no doubt that I want to root my identity in Him and not in my husband. It doesn’t hinder me from loving my husband or feeling close to him either. Rooting my identity in Christ frees me to love my husband better, deeper and richer. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us today, Scott! It’s been an honor to have you highlighted today!

    • Thanks Beth. I think that is why so many are afraid to actually do this, fear that being rooted in Christ, looking to the One for our source of value and significance will diminish our spouse. Not true at all, as you said.

  • Mia

    Dear Scott
    This is so true. My oldest son has just graduated this year and he and his girlfriend want to get married early next year. One thing that I keep telling both of them is not to look at one another for that which only our Lord Jesus can be for us! We each need to have our own relationship with our Lord and only then with your spouse together in Jesus. Otherwise the chances for a happy marriage is not very good. Thanks Beth, for sharing your friend. Great wisdom and I will certainly stop at Scott’s place. Please as soon as you get your results, will you let us know. Thank you also for all your prayers. You are such a precious, dear friend.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    • Hi Mia. Your words to your son and his girlfriend are wise. On some level, though, I think we have to get married to truly learn this lesson. Marriage reveals to us the places we are looking for ‘wholeness’ if we are willing to receive the message.

  • Such a great word Scott. I’ve found that God is quick to kick out the ‘props’ whenever i start learning on the wrong things and expecting my husband to meet needs that only He can meet.

    I love how you’ve summed it up here – “Being ‘one flesh’ in marriage means that the relationship is not the source of security, affirmation, control, or value. Those issues of identity need to be rooted in Christ.”

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for the kind words. Glad you stopped by. Merry Christmas!

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