What does it mean to leave and cleave?
Question: "What does it mean to leave and cleave?"
Answer: The phrase “leave and cleave” comes from Genesis. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). For an exciting account of the true creation story, read Genesis 1—2. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our likeness'...("Us" and "Our" refers to the Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.) "So God created man in His own likeness. He created him in the likeness of God. He created them as male and female" (Genesis 1:26, 27). "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). Then God made a woman. He made her from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to him. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:23-24 KJV). "So a man must not separate what God has joined together" (Matthew 19:6).
God made the man first and then the woman. God Himself brought her to him. God Himself ordained that they would be joined together in holy matrimony from the very beginning of the world. He said that the two of them would become one flesh. This is a picture of marital intimacy—the act of love that is never to be between anyone else but the two of them. To "cleave" means to adhere to, stick to or join with. It is a unique joining of two people into one entity and it means we don't cop out when things aren't going right. It includes talking things out, praying things through, being patient as you trust God to work in both of your hearts, being willing to admit when you're wrong and asking forgiveness, hanging in there with your spouse when everything seems to be going wrong, and seeking God's counsel regularly in His Word.
"To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him" (1 Corinthians 7:10-13). God intended for the man and woman to leave and cleave “till death do us part.” “‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).
The "leave and cleave" in the marriage bond is also a picture of the union God wants us to have with Him. "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cleave to Him" (Deuteronomy 13:4). It means we leave all other Gods, whatever form that may take, and join to Him alone as our God. We cleave to Him as we read His Word and submit to His authority over us, and through believing prayer. Then, as we follow Him closely, we find that His instruction to leave father and mother in order to cleave to your wife/husband is to discover commitment and security, just as He intended. It leaves behind the option of divorce, which is never a solution, but rather an exchange for more complex problems. God takes our wedding vows seriously. So, leaving and cleaving is God’s plan for those who marry and when we follow God’s plan, we are never disappointed.
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