I asked Fred what he got his wife for Valentine’s Day. He said, “Nothing.”

I questioned, “Nothing?”

He said, “Yea, we don’t have any money—too many bills.”

Jerry piped up, “She got you a card.” And then there was silence.

Sheila cut in, “I bet he buys himself lunch or a soda everyday, though.” And I knew she was right.

He could buy something for himself but not for his wife? Even if it had been one of those hand-written certificates we wrote up as kids: “I’ll do the dishes for a week.” “I’ll bring you breakfast in bed on Saturday.” Anything would have been better than nothing at all!

This incident got me to thinking about God’s idea of what a marriage is supposed to be. He set the standard up in the first book of the Bible when He first made Eve:

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:21-24).

“One flesh.” We can see from Genesis that this was literally true. Eve was of the same DNA, the same makeup as Adam. It was literally true here in Genesis, but this is the example God intended for all marriages from that point on. The intensity of the one-flesh type of commitment in marriage was not to change. When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus:

“He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt 19:4-6).

God ordained marriage to be one of the ultimate relationships on earth. He intended it for those who would put Him first. Without believing in a God who is supernatural, how could anyone really believe that two separate flesh-and-blood people could become one flesh?

The idea of becoming one flesh is a supernatural concept. The Apostle Paul called it a “great mystery” (Eph 5:32). We really don’t know exactly how this one-flesh concept becomes reality, but commitment is the first step. A person can’t go into a marriage thinking, “Let’s see if this will work and if it doesn’t I have a back-up plan.” God says that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (Jas 1:8).

Paul tells us how a man is to treat his wife:

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it” (Eph 5:28-29).

Webster’s Dictionary tells us “nourish” means to stimulate, foster, develop and support. It means to feed and sustain with food and other things necessary to life and growth. The Greek translation adds pampering and rearing to this definition. Remember, this is talking about what a man does for himself.

The scripture says he also cherishes his flesh. The definition of “cherish” is to warm, hold dear, value highly, treat tenderly and hold in the mind. God tells us that a man looks at and treats himself this way.

In a marriage this is how he is to treat his wife as well. The closest term we have in the English language is the word “empathy.” If a man is to see his wife as one flesh with himself then he is going to have to make a conscious effort to empathize with her—put himself in her shoes—identify with her feelings and thoughts as if they were his own, and act in accordance with what he finds.

So if a man can afford to buy himself a soda or lunch to satisfy his own flesh on Valentine’s Day, then he can certainly afford to get something for his wife on that same day, a day specifically designated for lovers. And that brings me to my next point regarding a marriage. The concept of being one flesh in a marriage includes the couple’s sex life, as Paul explains to the Corinthians:

“Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (1 Cor 7:3-5).

The word “benevolence” is translated from the Greek word eunoia, which means kindness, good will and conjugal duty. In verse 5 it says that a couple is not to deprive one another of this except if they agree to abstain for a short time for fasting and prayer. “I have a headache” isn’t included in the reasons to abstain. It’s also interesting that Paul ends by saying that if they abstain for too long Satan will tempt them for their “incontinency.” In other words, married people are intended to have sex and if they are defrauded, they will be tempted to go elsewhere. We all know this is true.

God made marriage a very special relationship and one not to be taken lightly. That a man and a woman could become one flesh is a supernatural concept. Couples who want to get married need to go to the Bible and study out God’s ideas about marriage and agree on the standards they will be committing to.  And for those couples who are married now, it would be good to review and maybe even re-commit to a marriage where God is the center and His ideas are the goals and standards for the many years to come.

In this article I’m specifically addressing marriage, but in the whole body of Christ we are to treat each other in a similar way (without the sex) to how a man is to nourish and cherish his wife. We are to love each other because we are part of the same body and “members one of another” (Eph 4:25).

From the definition for “nourish,” can you feed, stimulate, support, sustain, or pamper anyone this week?

From the definition for “cherish,” can you hold dear, value highly, or treat someone tenderly this week?

Will you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and empathized with their situation or feelings?

Thinking about “me, me, me,” too much, just draws us in tighter and tighter and makes us more and more unhappy. Giving care to someone else opens doors for our hearts to be more satisfied and free.

Love, Carolyn

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