Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated Christmas. With four young children, a regular part of my Christmas experience is putting together new toys. It is my opinion that the toymakers and the makers of Tylenol must have some kind of arrangement. The toys get harder and harder to put together with more and more little pieces. A parent can work up an excedrin headache trying to make everything fit. The only comfort you have in this process is the all-important instruction sheet. Without it, I would probably be in a rubber room somewhere mumbling to myself about how Tab A should fit into Slot B.

Instructions are important aren't they. We use them all the time. We use recipes to make our meals, manuals to install our software, and prescriptions to take our medicine. Without instructions, we would have a tough time in life. Doesn't it make sense that instructions would be important when it comes to something as serious as marriage?

There are such instructions you know. They are found in God's Word, the Bible. Some of the most important instructions come from the book of Genesis which describes the God-given paradigm for marriage. In Genesis 2:18-25, we discover the original model for marriage. This model tells us about the purpose of marriage and the foundational principles which support healthy marriages.

We have already discussed how God gave us marriage to deal with our aloneness. Marriage is designed for companionship. Today, in vv. 23-25, we will see that marriage involves the formation of a new family in which the husband and wife develop a life of intimate oneness.

I. Marriage involves a new relational priority.

A. Leaving father and mother.

1. Focus is not physical and geographical separation.

The newly married couple often lived in close proximity to the father and mother.

2. Focus is relational obligations and priorities.

B. New relational priorities.

1. Parent-child relationship was the priority.

2. Marriage creates new priority - husband/wife.

3. Note the emphasis on the man's leadership. A man must leave... Not that the woman doesn't. But he takes the lead as the head of this new family unit.

ILL: Jay Adams writes, "God did not put a parent and child into the garden. Adam and Eve were husband and wife." "The relationship between parent and child is established through birth (or adoption); the relationship between husband and wife by covenant promises. Blood may be thicker than water, but it should not be thicker than promise. The contrast between the temporary parent- child relationship and the permanent husband-wife relationship once again forcefully points up the uniqueness of marriage in God's plan for human beings."

APP: The failure to fully appreciate the principle of leaving father and mother has caused many heartaches for married couples. Let me describe for you what happens when a spouse fails to fully leave father and mother.

Conflict - over who is really controlling things. Is it the new husband and wife who are running the new household, or is it a parent who is behind the scenes calling the shots.

Resentment - because a spouse feels that their partner values the opnion of a mother or father more than their own.

It may be that some husbands and wives need to gently but firmly remind their parents that a new family obligation has been forged by your marriage. Your priority is now your spouse. The two of you together must make the decisions about your lives.

Now let me say a word to you parents who have married children. I know it is a difficult transition. I was the first one to leave the nest and I know that it was a tough time for my folks. But you must make the transition as gracefully as possible. Your role is changing from one of chief executive to consultant. If your kids are smart, they will value your input and seek your wisdom. But you must be careful not to interfere. Remember this, your child's marriage could strangle on your apron strings.

TS - Marriage involves new relational priorities. Notice next that ....

II. Marriage involves a new relational permanence.

A. Be united to his wife.

1. The Heb. lit. reads "and he shall cling to his wife."

2. The word transl. "Be united" in NIV means to stick to or cling to. It is a word used in covenants to describe loyalty and faithfulness.

ILL: I have done a number of wedding ceremonies. One of the most moving parts of the ceremony is the exchanging of vows. These vows always include the language of covenant faithfulness and permanence. At the wedding altar, couples promise to love one another faithfully through sickness and health, joy and sorrow, plenty and want, until death separates them.

APP: Let me emphasize again that husbands are to cling to wives and wives to husbands. Outside of your relationship to Jesus Christ, nothing should be more important than your husband or wife. I have seen marriages disintegrate because a spouse was clinging to a career, a boat, an education, or another person. Especially dangerous is the situation where parents cling to their children and get so involved in them that they neglect one another. Wives, cling to your husbands. Husbands, cling to your wives.

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