They are in the air.
Several of my friends are getting married in the near future and as a result I've been rolling these verses around in my head. In a recent conversation about this passage, a woman expressed her concerns about her son and his wife leaving and cleaving "properly." She also voiced concern over her own fear of hindering her son's leaving and cleaving. I love her sensitivity and her desire to see the newlywed's marriage start off on the right course. There are plenty of clingy moms and over-involved dads, not to mention sons and daughters who never really separate from their parents even after marriage. It is a wonder we get it right at all. Which begs the question, do we? Do we really get this whole business of leaving and cleaving right?
I will never forget leaving my family after our wedding day, literally. We were married on a Sunday and left for our honeymoon Monday morning, and we weren't coming back. We were moving to another country and my wedding day was the last day I would see my family for a very long time. Not only that, my husband and I were moving to a remote island with limited forms of communication. In my situation we had no choice - we left! It made the leaving easier. However, that is not a typical scenario. What happens when you live in the same city, on the same block or in the same house? The challenges set in...
When the Bible speaks of cleaving, it's describing a union that is stuck together, like glue. Cemented as a permanent bond, so when the storms blow and the gale rushes in you won't be blown apart. The truth is for those of us who are married, we will rarely get this right. Who among us has not run to mother or father when our marriage gets bumpy? Who of us has not sought wisdom and council from a parent during a stormy season of marriage? It's not bad to do that, however, it can sometimes serve as a wedge that drives partners further apart. Sharing intimate details of marital struggles with a parent can often cause the parent to choose sides as they rush to defend their child.
What beautiful sweet comfort we find alongside this directive. While we are trying to figure out the leaving and the cleaving of marriage, Jesus has perfected it.
Jesus left not only his earthly father and mother. He left his Father in heaven. Why? That he might cleave unto his wife. He left his Father to unite himself with his bride. He could have chosen to cling to his safe and secure heavenly home but instead chose the sacrificial path to you and to me. And not just for a time. He chose to leave so that he could cleave to, stick to, be cemented to us in perfect union forever. From an earthly perspective, death interrupts leaving ad cleaving. There comes a point when even the best efforts to cleave are shattered by the death of one or both partners. But Christ, having united his bride to himself forever and into eternity, assures us that we will never be separated from our bridegroom.
Jesus, the Man who chose to leave father and mother, who chose to cleave to his bride, has as a result made us one flesh united with him forever. His perfection is now ours. Our shame is now his. An undeserved union...
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh.