Summary: Marriage, as it was instituted by God, involves three keys for success. Leaving Home, Cleaving to one’s spouse and being Weaved around the Love of God in Christ.
Leave, Cleave and Weave
On July 29, 1981 Britain’s Prince Charles married his Lady Diana in a grand royal ceremony. The glamorous wedding was a fairy tale of present pomp and past glory, a last gold-leaf page from the tattered book of empire. London was a city dressed like a vast stage. Buses were painted with bows, and parks bloomed with Charles’ royal crest outlined in precisely painted blossoms. Some 4,500 pots of flowers lined the wedding route.
Besides the happy couple, the audience included 26 prominent clerics, a congregation of 2,500 crowding each other for pew space under the great painted dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, more than 75 technicians manning 21 cameras, and an estimated worldwide television audience of 750 million.
Too bad the marriage wasn’t as “rosy” an affair as the wedding. By now most all are aware that behind all the pageantry Prince Charles and Princess Diana were living a public lie. Life in the palace of royalty provided a slum of marital despair. So note it well. A glamorous wedding does not guarantee a successful marriage.
This side of heaven, nothing does. But one will be stronger, if one builds that marriage on the foundation of him who established marriage in the first place. One will be more firmly grounded if one starts and then remains faithfully set in God’s Word, a word that gives us some good guidance and advice.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother…” That word “leaving” is a hard word. In Hebrew the word is ‘azab which means to leave behind, even abandon. That’s pretty strong language. Those who are about to marry are to abandon the family in which they have been nurtured for as much as 20, sometimes 30 years. But there’s a reason for that. It’s not that we’re to suddenly neglect or disrespect mom and dad who’ve given so much of their time and treasure to care for us. These very same scriptures tell us elsewhere that we’re to honor our parents and in 1 Timothy 5, God’s servant, Paul reminds us that we have an obligation to provide for our relatives, especially our immediate families. The full record of God’s word makes it clear that we’re not to disregard our parents as we marry. But at the same time, God wants us to make no mistake about what is happening when a man and woman are joined together in this sacred bond called marriage. Moms and dads, ________ and ________ a new home, a new family, a new life is being formed today. Advice, counsel, help and aid; these you can give and these you can seek, but you are forming a new body, one flesh from two, a body that is yours to nurture, yours to care for, and your responsibility. “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to His wife…”
Husband and wife leave that parent-child relationship and cleave to one another as husband and wife. I like that word, better than “unite.” Dabaq is the word from the original language and it brings a certain “stick-to-itive-ness” to our understanding. This unity, this bond we are forming today is more than a mutual agreement. Agreements can be changed. Opinions can be swayed as we see too much in our world today when it comes to marriage. Passé is the scriptural teaching that separation and divorce are only justified in the case of unfaithfulness and desertion. People today simply walk away from their words when the arrangement grows a bit stale or uncomfortable. But the bond God had in mind and instituted despite our opinions is lifelong in nature. “…a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to His wife, and the two will become one flesh.” They will be two hearts, woven together as one.
But now understand, a good weave always involves 2 strands + one. Consider a braid. For all appearances it looks like two strands of hair twisted together. But in reality there is always a third, not immediately evident, but playing an important role in keeping the other two closely woven. If we were to pull that strand out the other two would be significantly weakened and eventually pull out. I believe that’s what the ancient wise man who wrote Ecclesiastes had in mind when he stated the value of having two in comparison to one; but then went on to say that “a cord of three (not two, but three) is not quickly broken.”
You are both being woven together into one today. Your hearts are united together as you pledge your lives to each other before God, but a cord of three strands is the one that is not easily broken. The two will become one flesh, but behind this relationship is the implication that this is God’s institution. He is intimately involved. He’s that third strand, not immediately evident, but present today; and who has already promised to be with you, and us all, to the very end of the age.