[Posts in “fictional conversations” are sometimes (but not always) adapted and edited from non-fictional correspondence. They are usually lightly edited with intelligibility in mind.]

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Then taking the members of Christ, shall I make [them] members of a harlot? Let it not be! Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, The two [shall be] into one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16).

Christian:  Paul clearly references Genesis 2:24 in the above-cited passage.  A few questions in light of this clarity.

(1) Have the harlot and the one being joined to the harlot become one body, one flesh?

(2) Has the cleaving made them one flesh?

(3) Is the cleaving and becoming one flesh a marriage to a wife?

(4) If the answer to (3) is “no,” then WHY did Paul use Genesis 2:24 to prove his point?

Curious:  This is a bit of a sticky wicket, as the saying goes.  This seems to be a real perplexing, pastoral concern.  It’s a rather tough one, eh?

Christian:  So, Mr. Curious, what do you think God the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul?

Curious:  It’s NOT AT ALL obvious that He’s saying that cleaving to a harlot is marriage to a harlot.  It JUST CAN’T mean that.

Christian:  For now, please give just one reason for why “it just can’t mean that.”

Curious:  Because if it DID mean marriage to a wife, then Paul would NOT have stated that forceful command in verse 18 to “flee fornication;” rather, he would have said DO NOT “be separated” (1 Corinthians 7:10).  Further, IF this carnal conversation WAS a marriage, THEN there would be no  such sin as fornication.  Porneia vanishes from the lexicon as a puff of smoke!

Christian:  Really?  Is THIS your reasoning, man?

Curious:  No, it’s YOUR reasoning.  I just performed one of those reductio ad absurdum thingies on you.  Couldn’t you tell?

Christian:  I appreciate the comedic candor, but your conclusion by no means follows. Your conclusion FALSELY ASSUMES that ALL joining-cleaving-becoming-one-flesh-by-sex-alone is necessarily pleasing to God. They aren’t of course, and thus some joining-cleaving-becoming-one-flesh-by-sex-alone marriage unions must be FLED from (i.e., repented of).  So, do you plan on getting around to answering my initial questions or what?

Curious:  I am compelled to agree with questions (1) and (2).  But certain overriding presuppositions of mine also force me to DENY number (3) about this being “a marriage to a wife.”  I don’t think I could handle the harsh implications if this is truly the case.  For if sex alone creates a one-flesh union, then think about Paul’s statement in Romans 7:1-3?   Wow.  That’s a lot of unrepentant adulterers and adulteresses.

Also, when I was young, stupid, arrogant, ignorant, and naive I bought in to that whole execration and desecration idea popularly called “the dating scene” where males and females play a seriously perverse game of “let’s mock God’s law of marriage”  (cf. Hebrews 13:4).  But I’ve seen professing Christian organizations such as “Desiring God” say in occasional blog posts “how far” should “godly Christians” go in their dating relationships.

Christian:  I tweeted out to John Piper of “Desiring God” that this dating stuff was a desecration of God’s marriage bed (cf. Hebrews 13:4).  This wicked endorsement of some type of “Christian” or (supposedly) “somewhat cleaned-up” version of dating is an example of conforming to the world.

Curious:   Interesting.  Did you forget the Matthew 18 process with Piper?

Christian:  No, of course not.  Matthew 18 describes a disciplinary process that is between believers only.  Piper has written some beneficial things, BUT he is NOT a true Christian; he is NOT regenerate.

Anyway, back to your reasons for disagreeing with God the Holy Spirit through Paul?  To restate the question for your disagreement with number (3).

(4) If the answer to (3) is “no,” then WHY did Paul use Genesis 2:24 to prove his point?

Curious:  Sure, okay.  I say “no” to (3) and now the question is WHY Paul would hammer his point home by using Genesis 2:24.  Got it.  So, well, yes, Genesis 2:24 IS referenced and Paul DOES talk about two becoming one flesh. And he is obviously saying there is something very deeply attaching about sexual intimacy. And that’s the point he’s bringing out, I think.

Christian:  Very deeply attaching?  So, according to you the reason Paul refers to Genesis 2:24 in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 is that there is “something very deeply attaching about sexual intimacy”?

Curious:  Yes.  That is correct.

Christian:  Of course “joining” and “cleaving” and the resultant “one-flesh” IS “deeply attaching.”  But methinks you missed Paul’s point.

Curious:  Let’s go back to Genesis 2:24 to look at the WHOLE verse, and not just that little PART that Paul quotes.

Christian:  Except that God the Holy Spirit through Paul  chose to quote “that little part.”  But I think I see where you’re heading with this.

Curious:  1 Corinthians 6:15-16 does NOT deal with the three components of marriage — only one. There are three components here in Genesis 2:24.  1) There is a separation from mother and father.  And, 2) There is a clinging to the wife. “Clinging” is a “remaining faithful to.” Faithfulness. 3) coming together in sexual intercourse.

Christian:  So your position is that more than sex alone creates, forms, establishes, makes, begins, commences, constitutes a marriage.  You have posited three things (or components) that constitute a marriage — Paul posits ONLY one.

Nested inside this clinging (“cleaving”) to a wife IS a covenantal commitment to “[remain] faithful to” since God elsewhere said that “You shall not commit adultery.” The covenantal commitment of marriage is created by the act of sexual intercourse.  THIS is why Paul references Genesis 2:24.  Marriage/sex is a serious and weighty business.

God through Paul says that to avoid

“fornication, let each have his [own] wife, and let each have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2)

Christian:  Certainly not the only reason to marry a Triune-God-loving woman, but Paul does set forth the avoidance of fornication as one reason for getting married.

Please note that Scripture teaches that MORE than sex is involved in an ideal marriage, such as praying and providing for children, for example.  This is NOT the issue being addressed here.  The issue or question being addressed here is what gets the whole marriage process going?  And Paul gives the clear answer.

Curious:  Recall Malachi 2:14-15.  It says wife by covenant or covenant wife.  Certain men were rebuked for dealing treacherously and deceitfully with the wife of their youth, their covenant wife.  This covenant, this commitment is critical. For those who are having casual or non-committed sex in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 are only meeting ONE of the THREE criteria or components here.

That’s all I got, man.  This (as far as I can tell) is the best I can do at refuting the argument put forth at the beginning of this post.

Christian:  I appreciate your forthrightness in seeking to find a loophole in God’s Law of Marriage and for What Constitutes Marriage. In reality (i.e., 1 Corinthians 6:15-16) there is really no such thing as “casual sex.”  There is uncommitted sex, but in view of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 it is not quite so “casual” as some people would wish it to be.  “Casual” in the sense of no necessary metaphysical implications about what “cleaving” and “one-flesh” entails.

Okay, so it appears that Malachi 2:14-15 is Mr. Curious’ last twisted attempt at erasing the critical consequences of sexual irresponsibility.

“Jehovah has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously; and she [is] your companion and your covenant wife. And has He not made [you] one? Yet the vestige of the Spirit [is in] him. And what [of] the one? He was seeking a seed of God. Then guard your spirit, and do not deal treacherously with the wife of your youth. ” (Malachi 2:14-15).

Jehovah made “one,” the man and “the wife of [his] youth” — his “covenant wife.” The two have become “one” because a covenant has been established (“your covenant wife”). An important question is this:

How is the Malachi 2:14-15 marriage-covenant created or established?

We know this covenant in Malachi 2:14-15 is established, created, or formed by SEX ALONE — that is, it is formed by “cleaving” or being “joined to” (1 Corinthians 6:16). It is by means of sex alone that the covenant between the man and the woman is established. Again, while sex is only one of the MANY components or elements within an ideal marriage, sex alone creates, commences, and begins the state of marriage.

Premise 1:  Sex alone results in a one-flesh union (from 1 Corinthians 6:15-16).

Premise 2:  A one flesh-union is the covenant-union (from Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:6, Malachi 2:14-15).

Conclusion:  Sex alone is the covenant-union.

Curious:  My feelings have just been flattened.  Thanks a lot, man.  Where’s your empathy or sympathy or whatever?  Just because something is true, it doesn’t mean you have to say it!

Christian:  Did we not engage in a free, non-coerced, and relatively cordial discussion?  I believe we did, no?  Feel free to reach out to others who can refute the Biblical logic regarding marriage.  I do realize that if marriage is as strict as Jesus in His Word says it is, then it is better not to marry (at least this is what some have concluded).

[In closing, while Mr. Curious (and those who believe like him) may not view uncommitted sexual relationships as a mere trifle, it is certain that he does NOT duly appreciate nor consider the treacherous implications of denying what constitutes the marriage union.]