“Bruce Wilkinson says in his 25 plus years of counseling he has come to the conclusion that just about every marriage problem he has encountered has been the result of one or the other partners in a marriage not following the leaving and cleaving principle laid out in the Bible. They are in violation of what he considers the most important verse in the Bible as it relates to marriage. That verse is found in Genesis 2:24. It says: ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.‘
“Christ repeats almost the same words in Mark 10:6-8. It says: ‘At the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this cause a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’
God’s Leaving Cleaving Principle
“So this was God’s idea in the beginning… He said it is not good for the man to be alone and created this 3-step process:
1. Man and woman must leave.
2. They must then cleave.
3. If they do these two steps they will become one flesh.” (John Lovoy, from Marriage.infomedia.com article, “The Honeymoon is Over … Or Is It?”)
In this message, we’re going to look at the subject of cleaving in marriage. (Last week we looked at “leaving” your former lifestyle behind after marrying.) Even if you’ve been married 70 years, you can still back up and do things right if haven’t up until now. Each day can bring a new beginning.
First, Samuel Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., gives the following insight, which you may not have considered before. He wrote (in the Biblicalperspectives.com article, “The Institute of Marriage”):
The Cleaving Principle
“In the sight of God, cleaving means wholehearted commitment, which spills over to every area of our being. It means to be permanently glued together rather than temporarily taped together. You can separate two pieces of wood taped together, but you cannot separate without great damage two pieces of wood glued together. In fact, two pieces of wood glued together become not only inseparable, but also much stronger than if they were taped together. Cleaving involves unswerving loyalty to one’s marital partner…
“Accepting the Biblical standard of cleaving means asking ourselves when contemplating marriage: Am I prepared to make a lifetime commitment to my prospective spouse, for better or for worse till death do us part? Once married, cleaving means to ask ourselves: Will this action, word, decision, or attitude draw us closer together or further apart? Will it build up or tear down our relationship?
“For a Christian committed to living by the principles of God’s word, any course of action which weakens the cleaving must be regarded as contrary to God’s design for a marriage covenant.”
Samantha Krieger puts it this way:
“To cleave has meant that we are now one. We’re no longer two individuals with our separate agendas and plans. Everything we do affects one another, somehow and some way. We’re now our own family, distinct from the families we grew up in.” (From her web site article, “Cleaving: What Does it Mean in Marriage, Anyways?”)
The Cleaving Principle Requires Priority Changes
Did you note that? We’re “distinct from the families we grew up in” —not an extension. It’s a matter of figuring out together what YOUR mark is to be on the world —as a team. Those who were once was your primary family are now to take a back seat to the priorities, which you mark out as a family. We are to still love our family and friends. But after marrying we are to no longer allow them to take precedence over our spouse.
Pastor Greg Laurie, from the Oneplace.com article, “Marriage 101” shares these thoughts about cleaving:
What Does Cleaving Entail?
“What does it mean ‘to cleave’? From Genesis 2, it means ‘to adhere to, to stick to, to be attached by a strong tie.’ You might be thinking, ‘Yes, that’s me. I’m stuck!’ But that isn’t the meaning here. In the original Hebrew, this verb form speaks of doing something aggressively. In other words, you’re not stuck to something like a fly on flypaper, trying to get loose. Rather, you’re holding on.
“Imagine walking along the edge of a cliff and suddenly losing your footing. As you go over the side, you grab a branch and hold on to it. It’s something you’ve done by will, because your life depends on it. That’s the implication of the word cleave here.
“Therefore, I must periodically examine my life. I must ask myself if any relationship or pursuit in which I’m currently involved would put distance between my wife and me. Will it draw us together or drive us apart? Will it build our relationship or tear it down?
“It is not always the big things that bring a marriage down. It is often the small things. As the Scripture says, it’s ‘the little foxes that spoil the vines’ (Song of Solomon 2:15). In marriage, it can be neglect, or the unwillingness to hold on tightly to your spouse.”
Cindy and I (Steve) were fortunate. When we were married both of our parents made it clear that they loved us very much and would help us any way they could. BUT, they “cut the cord” and told us we had to forge our marriage and lives on our own. It was one of the best gifts they ever gave us. When our sons married we did the same thing.
We wrote letters and gave them to them on their wedding day. In essence, we told them that from now on their FIRST loyalty and priority is to their wives (and family). Additionally, we gave them permission to confront us if they ever felt we were trying to interfere or did anything that hurt their wives.
We understand what it means to leave and cleave. First, as a parent we need to be proactive in teaching our children about this BEFORE they leave home. Then we need to cut the cord at the appropriate time and send them on their way with our blessing. And third, we (as a married couple) then need to be intentional in building our lives together. We begin from the day we say our vows to each other until the day one or both of us die.
We hope that wherever you are in the leaving sand cleaving process that you will follow the biblical principles in all areas of your marriage.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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