I’ve started reading a daily devotional that just focuses on marriage. In just 6 days, it has reminded me of the great treasure and challenge marriage brings. The author focuses on Genesis 2:24 – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast (cleave) to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” The writer points out that in this short verse establishes so many foundational principles about marriage.
First, there is leaving father and mother. This involves establishing a new family unit. It becomes our first priority over our family of origin. We still have deep connection and responsibility towards our father and mother. But marriage requires that we now put energy into building this new family. Some marriages struggle because one or both of the partners never completely leave their father or mother. Or the father or mother exercises too much influence or control over the new family unit.
Second, there is cleaving to one another. This refers to a glue like bond between husband and wife. This does not mean that one party holds the other hostage in a semi or fully abusive relationship. It means to join together in a healthy way – emotionally, socially, financially and legally. Some refuse to marry their partner because they see it as just a meaningless piece of paper. The key ingredient is love. While love is crucial in marriage, why would one not enter into a legally binding covenant with the one they love? Cleaving involves a willingness to commit to one another in this deep way.
Third, there is a oneness in marriage or one flesh. It implies that two come together in a unity in all areas of life. It doesn’t mean the individual partners lose their identity. But it does mean that their identity now includes oneness and marriage to this one person.
Today, we face a great challenge to this picture of marriage ordained by God. Most people think that marriage is all about self-fulfillment. If the other person fulfills their needs, then the marriage will continue. But when one’s spouse starts to not fulfill your needs, its time to move on. But this view of marriage can lead to short term relationship and an endless search for the perfect partner. Instead, we need to see marriage as a relationship where we give of ourselves on behalf of the other person. Like God gave His Son for us, we give up ourselves for our marriage partner. When a husband and wife mutually practice this, they can experience deeper fulfillment and love.
For those of you who are experiencing a healthy marriage today, I pray you will praise God for it and keep asking for His strength to nurture it. For those who face struggles in marriage today, my heart goes out to you. I pray that you will turn to God with it all and seek His wisdom, comfort, healing and renewal to work towards the model established in Genesis 2:24.
“O God, thank you for the gift of marriage. It is not some mere institution of society from a bygone age. It contains the potential for the deepest human relationship we can experience during our time on earth. Continue to strengthen our marriages. Help those who struggle in their marriages today by sending them your love and wisdom.”