Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Ten Theses on Genesis 2:24


“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother 
and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” 
Genesis 2:24

This verse is a key text regarding humanity, marriage, and family. It comes at the conclusion to the account of creation and is quoted at least four times in the New Testament. It continues to play a role in many discussions today, and so I propose the following ten theses, along with ten sub-theses, regarding some of its meaning and implications.

1. This verse teaches God’s intention for marriage to be a lifelong union of one man and one woman, bound exclusively to each other.

2. This verse asserts the priority of the marriage bond over all other human relationships, even over the relationship between parent and child.

3. This verse asserts that a child’s relation to his or her parents will change, and that parents should raise their children towards the responsibility and freedom of maturity.
  a. Other passages expect men to assume adult responsibilities when they reach the age of majority. In biblical Israel, men reached the age of majority at age twenty and were then responsible for military service, voting, and the head tax (Num. 1:2-3, 1 Chron. 12:38, Ex. 20:13-14).

4. This verse teaches that marriage is a normal part of reaching adulthood.
   a. Indeed, it is the duty of those of marriageable age to find a spouse and get married, unless they have a gift of continency (1 Cor. 7:2-9, 1 Tim. 5:13-14).
   b. As man and woman came from one flesh, so they naturally are designed to become one flesh, and unless this is consummated in marriage, fallen humanity will normally seek an illegitimate outlet for this natural design.

5. The context of this verse teaches that parents have a duty to help their children find callings and spouses when they reach adulthood.
  a. God provided a calling and bride for Adam, the “son of God” (Luke 3:38), just as he later provided a calling and bride (the church) for his only-begotten Son (John 6:38-39, Rev. 21:2). This pattern is reflected in the duties of human parents (Jer. 29:6, Ruth 3:1, Gen. 24:2-4, Eph. 6:4).
  b. Therefore, parents should prepare their children with the skills and character necessary for these responsibilities. 
  c. Parents should make these decisions in communication with their children. The initial suggestion of a spouse can come from parent or child. Both the couple and their parents should consent to the marriage; parents should not force marriage without the son or daughter’s consent, nor withhold consent without just cause.
  d. While the Bible certainly recognizes occasions when parents cannot afford it, it is expected that parents will help provide a financial basis for their children as they are able (Prov. 19:14, 2 Cor. 12:14). 

6. This verse and its context (Gen. 2:15-24, 3:12) teach that the man leaves his parents and receives his wife, in distinction from the woman who is given to the man.

7. This verse does not require the man to stay at his father’s house until marriage.
  a. A man might leave home to prepare for marriage and find a spouse. Isaac sent Jacob away to Laban to find and win a wife (Gen. 28:1-5). The heavenly Father sent the Son to earth to win his bride, the church (John 6:38-39, Rev. 21:2).
  b. As children mature and transition into adulthood, parents may delegate some of their authority to others for a temporary period of further training, such as in apprenticeship (one type of “slavery” in Ex. 21:3 and Deut. 15:12-18) and discipleship (1 Kings 19:19-21, Matt. 4:21-22, Acts 16:3).

8. This verse does not require a man to physically leave his father’s house when he gets married.
  a. This can be seen from numerous biblical examples, it being quite common, though not required, for three or four generations to live in one household under the authority of the patriarch. “Secession” from this arrangement was possible and sometimes for the best (Gen. 31), but it was often to everyone’s advantage to stay together. This is an uncommon arrangement today in America, but it is not an arrangement forbidden by Scripture. 

9. The context of this verse (Gen. 2:15-20) teaches that a man should be proven as a responsible worker and have a sense for his mission and his need for a helper before he gets married.

10. This verse does not teach that a man’s responsibility to honor and support his parents ends when he gets married (e.g. Prov. 23:22, 1 Kings 2:19, Matt. 15:1-9).

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