Leaving and cleaving

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Dear Young People,

Marriage is a mystery—a mysterious union of a man and woman. From the day of the wedding, the woman and man belong to one another. Until the day before the wedding, they belonged to their parents and families. But mysteriously, they now belong to each other.

Do you know what the first instruction about marriage was?
You’ll find it in the first book of the Bible. Look in your Bibles and find the reference. G________ ___:___

The verse reads like this:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The verse as it appears in the King James Bible is good to know as it contains a set of rhyming words.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
The rhyming words are ‘leave’ and ‘cleave’. They speak of two important principles in marriage.

Leaving Father and Mother
It is normal for a woman to leave her home and come to the home of the husband. This is not enough. Note very carefully that the Bible says: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother. . .

The husband and wife are one unit. They must be emotionally and financially independent of their parents. This shows that marriage is an important step and must not be entered into without sufficient thought. When there is an important decision to be taken, the couple must sit down and discuss it together. They must not expect or allow their parents to plan their lives.

Their parents are more experienced than they are and may be wiser. Sensible children take careful note of good advice. But the final decision belongs to the husband and wife.

Sometimes, parents are old and ill. A mother may be widowed and in need of assistance. Married children must not use this scripture to shirk from their responsibility towards their parents. This scripture is talking about an emotional leaving of the parents. It is not talking about leaving helpless parents in the lurch.

Young men desiring to be married must ensure that you are capable of being emotionally independent of your parents. Are you capable of taking a decision on your own? Do you have the necessary finances to manage the affairs of your family without assistance from your parents? Only if your answer is ‘yes’ to these questions should you start looking for a wife.

Cleaving unto the Wife
The word ‘cleave’ is an old word that today means the opposite of what it meant at the time of King James. Today it means to separate or cut with a sharp tool. But in this important scripture, it means ‘to join’.

Cleaving is right if the leaving is right—If the man or the woman is still emotionally attached to the parents, the cleaving or joining among themselves will not take place.

Cleaving is right if the spouses are equally yoked—The Bible commands believing men and women to marry believers. For us who have pledged to love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, it will be impossible to find fulfilling companionship if the spouse is an unbeliever. If the spouse is an unbeliever, the believer is in grave risk of growing far from God. Life will also become a series of heart breaks because the unbelieving spouse cannot share the joys and responsibilities of the believing partner.

Cleaving is easier if the spouses are suitably matched—In marriage, two people from different families come together and must learn to live together. That is one reason why one must be very careful when choosing a partner to marry. It is easier to adjust when both the man and the woman come from similar backgrounds. If two Kannada believers marry, it is easier to communicate. When two people from highly educated families marry, they share similar tastes. When two wealthy believers marry, they continue to enjoy comforts that they are used to. If a wealthy girl marries a poor boy, both will have to make many difficult adjustments. So it is often wise to think of all this before choosing one’s partner.

But remember that as Christians, we do not believe in the caste system. After generations of living under this curse, it is not easy for most Indians to get this completely out of our system, although it is the height of folly to imagine that any group of people is superior to any other on this earth. God is Creator of all, and our Lord gave His precious blood for every one who comes to Him, whatever be the ‘caste’, community, country, or the color of the skin.

[Exercise: Traditionally in India, the bride comes to live with the husband’s family. In the light of this, should a newly married couple actually leave the parents’ home and move into a separate house? Think about this carefully and write down what you think. Please send this to us because it will help us to know how much you have understood of this important lesson.]

(Nahomi Dhinakar; Published in Youth Column of Dhyanamlar Sep 2004) Click here for other Youth Column articles

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