Unification News for November 1998

One Flesh Theology

UViews December 98
Tyler Hendricks

The first chapter of Genesis teaches that God created man "in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (NKJV) The details of this appear in the second chapter, where scripture says that God created the man out of the dust of the ground (2:7). God gave to the man a commandment not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then declared it was not good for man to be alone and that God would make him a helper comparable to him (2:18). Then God created the animals and birds from the ground and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, "and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name." (2:19) But there was nothing among these that was comparable to Adam. We know the rest:

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man." (2:21-22) Woman was unique from the beginning. God created Adam and all the other creatures "of the dust of the ground" (2:7, 19). Only woman did God not create of the dust of the ground. Woman He created out of the body of the man. From one body, God created two bodies. Thus the man's first words upon seeing woman were, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (2:23) Here we have the biblical foundation for the theology of marriage, what I am calling the one-flesh theology.

God created man out of Himself. Who were Adam's father and mother? God Himself was Adam's parent (Luke 3:38). Since God is male and female in image, God was Adam's father and mother. How can God be plural? Within God, as Christianity teaches us, there is plurality, the Trinity. The opening verses of the Bible tell of God and "the Spirit of God." It speaks of the mysterious "face of the deep" with the "Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). From this perspective we can interpret the destiny of the man set forth in verse 24 of chapter 2: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Adam himself was to follow this path, leaving his "father and mother," God, and becoming one flesh with his wife.

Let us reflect on why it was not good for the man to be alone. It was not good because Adam alone was not the complete image of God. God cannot see His complete image or reflection in Adam along. God cannot see the fullness of male and female. Also, God cannot see His creativity in Adam alone. Without woman, man is not a creator in the ultimate sense. He cannot multiply children.

God created woman, "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh." Out of one body, God created two bodies, and then God commanded them to become one body again and through that divine process, to multiply God's image. God's creativity is made incarnate in that unification into one body. The ultimate creativity is passed from the Creator to the creature. Therefore the one flesh in the Garden is a couple. This is very important: the one flesh created in the Garden of Eden is a couple, a husband and wife. God never calls Adam or Eve as individuals "one flesh." To the contrary, He calls their union one flesh. The body is a couple. Reflecting, we can see that the reason is that the body of God is infleshed by love, and the power that makes of Adam and Eve one flesh is love.

To make it a formula, Adam + Eve + love = one flesh. If we take out love, we do not have one flesh. And from whence is the love? From God. And since God is love, we can restate the formula, Adam + Eve + God = one flesh.

Because of the fall, Adam and Eve came together as one flesh centering on Satan, not God. Their motive was physical lust and spiritual rebellion. They were outside the Garden. And so the fruit of Eveís womb was cursed, not blessed (Deut 28:4, 18) The purpose of God from that point on was to rebuild the body, and the body is a couple. This is symbolized in the Old Testament by God calling Himself the husband of His wife, Israel (for instance, Jer 3:14, 31:32; Hos 2:16-17). It is symbolized in the New Testament by St. Paul calling Christ the husband of his bride, the church. "I promised you to one husband, to Christ," Paul writes to the church in Corinth, "so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him." (2 Cor 11:2) The point is that to rebuild the body means to restore a couple, a married couple. The body in the Garden was a couple, Adam and Eve. The body in the Old Testament was a couple-symbolized by God and Israel as husband and wife. The body in the New Testament is a couple, symbolized by Jesus and the church as husband and wife.

Therefore, Johnís Gospel records that Jesus called the people to become one flesh and blood with him on the earth. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, many people followed Jesus. He told them that the physical bread is not the point, but that he would give them food for eternal life (John 6:27). Then he declared that he himself is "the bread of life" given for the sake of the world, and that all people should "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood.Ö Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." (John 6:48-56 passim) In other words, Jesus was telling the people that they should become one body with him. Knowing that Israel was chosen to be the wife of God, and that Eve, the primordial wife, was called to become one body with her husband, we can see that Jesus was calling Israel to enter into a relationship of the most profound love with him.

Tragically, this was the very message that Israel rejected. "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ĎThis is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?í" Jesusí response was to spiritualize the message: "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." (John 6:61-62) Nonetheless, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." (John 6:66) Only twelve remained and one of them, Jesus said, "is a devil" (John 6:70).

Jesus had wanted to give the blessing to Israel as couples. In John 4 we have the revelatory story of the woman at the well. Again Jesus spoke of the life that he came to give us, this time referring to it as "living water." The Samaritan woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I wonít get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." To this, Jesus said, "Go, call your husband and come back." (John 4:13-16)

Now, the story goes on with the woman telling Jesus that she had no husband, and Jesus replying that he already knew that. Immediately it turns into another miracle tale, because the woman becomes excited about Jesusí surprising knowledge and she tells everyone and they gather and honor Jesus, becoming his followers (John 4:40-41). Presumably these were among those who fell away in John 6. Miracles do not make good disciples.

The point I want to make here is that most Bible readers also are distracted by the miracle of Jesusí knowing everything about the woman. Therefore they ignore what it was that he told her to do in answer to her simple request for the living water that gives eternal life: "Go, call your husband and come back." Now, Jesus knew that the man she was living with was not her husband (John 4:18). We have to conclude that he was ready to accept this man, had she acted in complete faith and obedience to his words, as her husband, and to give them the living water-the blessing-as husband and wife. Through her faith, she and her husband would have been saved-but only them together, not she by herself.

But none in Israel had such faith. So at the Last Supper, Jesus broke the bread-his body was broken on the cross. And he shared the wine-his blood was shed on the cross. Israel could no longer become one body with him, physically. The body of Christ became the mystical body. This mystical body, the church, was brought into existence by the advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, Jesusí partner in heaven, brought the bride on the earth into existence.

God led Paul to a deepening understanding of the relationship between the husband and wife as one flesh and Christ and the church as one flesh in Ephesians 5. And here the Genesis passage reappears about the man leaving his father and mother and uniting to his wife and the two becoming one flesh. Here Paul has all the right elements. The elements are Christ and the church, husband and wife, and mind and body ("husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodiesÖ we are members of his [Christís] body" vv. 28, 30). Unfortunately, but understandably, Paul does not see how it all fits together, and he concludes "this is a profound mystery" (v. 32).

And the New Testament never clarifies this mystery. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit guides husbands and wives to be faithful to each other, for their bodies belong not to themselves but to their spouse (1 Cor 7:4). On the other hand we have the dramatic vision in Revelation of the bride of Christ descending from the heavens to meet her husband in the wedding of the Lamb. Through it all, the dominant images remain "bride" and "children."

It is no wonder that the New Testament maintains a tone of expectation, of a promise that one day will be fulfilled, because the positions of bride and children are positions that presuppose a goal not yet reached. A bride is betrothed but not yet married. Children are not yet adults, and of course are not yet married. Thus Jesus and Paul both counseled that, given this state of affairs, the unmarried, celibate status is preferable to that of marriage (Mt 19, 1 Cor 7, Gal 3:18-if there is no male or female in Christ, surely there can be no marriage in Christ). We cannot, in the ultimate sense, make one body on earth as a married couple, because Christ himself did not form one body on earth with his bride, Israel. His one body was formed in the spirit, in the church.

Since the church is the body of Christ, the church is the mediator of salvation. It is the dwelling place of God. From the viewpoint of salvation, everything else is epiphenomenal-a side issue, subsidiary to the real deal. Your job is not your salvation, your education is not your salvation, your wealth is not your salvation, nor is your power, fame or good looks. And your family is not your salvation. Only the church.

This is why the New Testament churches have no fundamental argument against homosexual marriage or homosexual ordination. The church is the sine qua non of salvation; only it is absolute.

But this is not the original ideal of the Garden. As Philip Schanker puts it, God did not create a church in the Garden of Eden. He created a man and a woman and told them that their destiny was to become one flesh through His love. God has been working to restore that one flesh through His love ever since. In these last days, these latter times, Jesus has sent Reverend Sun Myung Moon to clarify this mystery. He and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, have established the perfection of the one flesh, and have established the conditions for everyone of us to access that perfection, that realm of Godís glorious love. They have made the foundation for the society, for the nation, for the world and for the spirit world to access it, to become one body of God. So this is a great and glorious day, about which the world for the most part remains in darkness.

Reverend built a church because the churches that Jesus built abandoned him. But his goal from the beginning-from before the creation of the world-was to transition the body of God from the church to the family. In the establishment of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, this has come to pass. The family is now the vehicle of salvation. This is one dimension of Reverend Moonís statement that the age of religion has passed. The church is now epiphenomenal to the family.

These are my reflections, which, I must admit, are evolving day by day. We live in a fast-changing time and horizons are opening continually. But I wanted to share some of what I have been thinking about.

Recommended Reads

If you have time for reading in this season, I have a few recommendations.

THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL LEADER (Part 2), which is part of the Hoon Dok Hae series. The entire series is amazing, and True Fatherís emphasis at this time is the volumes on spirit world. But I have also been reading this volume because I need to learn Fatherís teachings on church building. Here it is, in spades. I find that virtually everything that I read from other church growth authorities is also present in Fatherís words. Remember, Father built his church in the 1950s and 1960s. By the time he came to America he was not working on the church-building stage, but had broader agendas. Recently Father explained that the Korean National Messiahsí mission is to teach the rest of us how to do ministry. We in America did not experience first hand Fatherís "church building ministry." This book gives amazing insights into the way that Father started our church in Korea and how he guided the early pioneers. (I donít know why I started with Part 2; I am sure that Part 1 is just as informative.)

Staying on the topic of church growth, I have five more recommendations.

REINVENTING AMERICAN PROTESTANTISM by Donald E. Miller. This one is my current rave. Miller is a sociologist who studied in-depth three Christian movements that arose out of Southern California over the last twenty years-Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and Hope Chapel. These he sees as typical of "new paradigm" Christianity. They are booming movements, comprising between them somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 churches, three-quarters in America and one-quarter outside of America. There are striking similarities between what they are doing and many of Fatherís directions for us that we, for whatever reasons, have not accomplished.

THE PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH by Rick Warren. This is an industry standard detailing the internal theory and organization of Warrenís church, which would fall into Millerís "new paradigm" category. It is a primer out of which you can gain many ideas for immediate application in YOUR church.

COMMUNITY 101: RECLAIMING THE LOCAL CHURCH AS COMMUNITY OF ONENESS by Gilbert Bilezikian. Bilezikian is the mentor and theological inspiration, I am told, of Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek Community Church. This book begins with theology and moves quickly to application in the local church. The application part is the most important for us. I can resonate with almost everything he says. The only piece missing is the family. He views Adam and Eve as progenitors of the original community. This is correct, of course, but he pays no attention to their role as parents and their family as prior to the community. To be fair to Bilezikian, he may have treated this in another work. In any case, there are good lessons to be drawn for church development.

BECOMING A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg. Itís just a great book of instructions about witnessing by some guys who know how to do it in America. They also offer video and audio tapes and a complete course outline based on the book.

THE CELL CHURCH by Larry Stockstill. This is an instructive book about how to develop your church through small group life. Since the Family Federation is basically a small group activity, it is helpful for us to see how some folks have taken this idea and made it work. [See Chris Corcoranís review in this issue of Unification News.]

FIRST THINGS. This is a monthly magazine published by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. It is always engaging and sometimes positively brilliant. Pick up the December 1998 issue for the symposium on contraception. True Father is against birth control, you know. So is the Pope. Are you? Have you thought about the spiritual meaning of opposition to birth control? I think it that the Catholic magisterium is tapping a deep vein of truth here, one that we Unificationists should mine even deeper. This symposium is a good opening salvo.

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