Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gen 2:24 ESV
On Wednesdays we will explore the role our spouses play in our spiritual formation. I include our spouse in our core areas of spiritual formation (along with self and God) because according to the verse above, they are truly a part of ourselves. The other four areas (offspring, vocation, relationships and stuff) are all separate from us, but our spouse will be with us until one of us dies.
Many people consider the “one flesh” concept to be a reference to the sexual relationship that exists in marriage. While this no doubt reflects an aspect of being one flesh, I believe God’s design transcends the sexual relationship. Perhaps God’s design for marriage is not that two people learn to live together, but rather that those two people cease their individualism and somehow, mystically and spiritually become one. In this sense, significant spiritual formation takes place through marriage.
In a way I don’t fully understand I’m realizing God greatly uses my marriage to mold me into His character. Perhaps He does this most by gradually removing the self-centered aspects of my personality. (Isn’t it amazing how our spouses expose these tendencies without even trying?) While it can be incredibly irritating to be formed in this way, I can only hope God uses my wife to shape me into the man He wants me to be. Like most happily married men, I shudder to think of where I would be without my wife! Yes, it’s painful at times, but ultimately God uses Paula as one of His primary instruments in my spiritual formation. If you are married, I hope you will be encouraged by this truth. Embrace your marriage as a part of your spiritual formation.