For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. -Genesis 2:24-25
Cleaving Without Leaving
Many young people today are attempting the first part of Genesis 2:24, becoming one flesh, but leaving out the second part of the verse, leaving their father and mother. I believe many marriages suffer unnecessarily, or even fail, because without the second part, leaving father and mother, the first part, becoming one flesh, doesn’t work very well. Independence from mom and dad is a huge key to a healthy marriage. A husband and wife must form a team of three: the husband, the wife, and their God. When a dad and/or mom is involved it becomes a team of 4 or 5. Or if both sets of parents are involved, a team of seven! God’s way is the best way, and it’s up to us as parents to allow our kids to separate, to leave. Because if they don’t leave, emotionally as well as physically, then they won’t cleave. Parents, don’t fall into the trap of over involvement. Follow God’s plan. Too much involvement in our adult kids’ marriages will make things worse instead of better. Young married people, especially you husbands, insist on independence. Guard your marriage from your parent’s over involvement, in a loving and gracious manner, but with tenacity. For you to be successful in your marriage your spouse must come before your parents, and your God must come before your spouse.
And in case you’ve already successfully left your parents, be sure to leave others as well. Friendship with those of the opposite sex, the kind of friendship that involves time alone together, even small amounts of time alone together, is nearly always found at the beginning of an adulterous relationship. Don’t do it. Don’t invest in that relationship at work or at the gym, even if you don’t feel an attraction. As you invest your heart will inevitably follow as Jesus said in Luke 12:34. And as God says to us in Proverbs 6:27-28, Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
Jesus on Divorce
Jesus quoted from Genesis 2:24 when the Pharisees came to trap Him with a question. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3) They probably thought, “If we can get Jesus to say that divorce is not permitted, not God’s will, then we can quote the law of Moses and, BOOM, the trap is shut, we’ve got him.” But Jesus went back to the beginning, to God’s original plan for marriage, before the law was given to Moses. Jesus from Genesis 2:24,
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,and said, ‘For this reason 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.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Perhaps at this point the Pharisees, realizing that they’d been out maneuvered, asked the following question, as a last ditch effort to salvage their trap…
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Matthew 19:7)
But Jesus replied,
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)
Divorce Reality Check
Today we’ve seen a rather large cultural shift from divorce being such a negative to a new perception of divorce as a liberating, freeing, positive experience. A single parent household, a man and woman living together unmarried perhaps with children, these are seen as acceptable alternative lifestyles. What’s being completely ignored is the wellbeing of the children of divorce. The vast majority of children from divorced families surveyed say they’d like to see their original family back together. Have you heard that statistic before? Probably not. Five years after divorce more than a third of children experienced depression. Even at 10 years and 15 years after divorce, many of the children involved had significant problems. Children from divorced families were found to be less successful in life than children from intact families, particularly in the areas of relationships and careers.
Most of the time the custody of the children goes to the mother. What’s not a part of the public discussion is that about half of all single mothers live below the poverty line. And this desperate economic circumstance is not for the short haul — on average it lasts six years. For African American single mothers it’s much worse, 10 years after divorce only 33% of African American mothers were remarried and continued in financial distress. (McLanahan-Garfinkel)
So don’t close your eyes to the devastation caused by divorce. Build your marriage on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His word. Invest in your wife, invest in your husband and your heart will follow. Follow His ways, in life, and in your marriage.
Sex a Gift from God
Finally, notice in Genesis 2:25 that God provided that The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. God very specifically tells us in Hebrews 13:4 that His plan for the marriage bed is for it to be undefiled. Sex inside of marriage is a gift from Him, and shame has no part in it. When you invest in your wife, when you invest in your husband, do so in all areas including your physical relationship. For God tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5
The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
[Image via: Maria Rosaria - Creative Commons]
Single Mothers and Their Children, Sarah McLanahan and Irwin Garfinkel, 1986