Marriage is Simply Divine–Part Four

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!


Look again at Genesis 2.24

For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

I’ve often wondered about Moses’ thoughts as he penned this verse from God. I wonder if he thought of his own wife, Zipporah. She had been a gift given by her father Jethro to him. When they were united they had no idea that one day they would be wandering in the wilderness together leading the children of God. It gives the verse a whole new light when I think about it in this way.

Charles Swindoll put together a Bible study guide entitled Strike the Original Match.[1] I’d like to borrow his outline for this verse.

Marriage calls for Severance.

Popularly referred to as the “Leave and Cleave” principle, couples must be willing to leave behind their families, homes, everything they have become familiar with and comfortable in.

Years before Moses would write these words God called to Abram and asked him to do just that, and in faithful obedience Abram followed God’s calling. (Gen. 12.1-4) Abram was asked to leave behind his family and all that had been familiar to him and to step out in faith to follow God to a place that he could not yet see. This is severence to the Nth degree.

That passage about Abram is particularly important to me in my marriage and in ministry. When Andie and I were married we had no idea that one day the Lord would ask us to leave Vermont, her home for all her life. We could not have begun to dream that we would move from Vermont to the capitol district of New York, to urban West Virginia, to one day find ourselves in the rural Southeast Alabama town of Clio.

Severance. Note, this is not alienation from our parents. On the contrary, they have a great deal of wisdom of which we would be smart to avail ourselves. Swindoll writes concerning the child’s severance from parents, “So listen to their advice. Then make your own decisions–and be responsible for them.” And concerning the parent’s, “Severing means training a child so that he or she can become independent in a healthy, natural, flowing fashion.”[2]

Leaving also means that we don’t compare our spouse with out mother or father. It means that we must develop our own way of dealing with things together that reflect the uniqueness of our marriage.

Marriage calls for Permanence.

The second half of the “Leave and Cleave” command is a command of permanence. Cleave means to cling to, to glue yourself to, to keep close and remain constant. Thus, marriage is intended to be a permanent relationship. A secured and unbreakable bond.

I saw an advertisement recently in the Dothan Eagle that caused me to feel nauseous. It said, “Quick, Easy Divorces, $250.00 and up.” How disappointing. Unfortunately that lawyer will probably generate a lot of business with that ad because that is the growing mind-set among couples today. They enter into marriage with the idea that they can always call it quits if it doesn’t work out to their liking.

In Newsweek February 19, 1996 there is an article entitled “Tightening the Knot.” It’s primary focus is the efforts being made to eliminate no fault divorce, a law which has been in effect in most states since the 1970s. [It’s interesting to note that since the introduction of “No Fault” laws the rate of divorce has almost tripled from .4 million in 1960 to 1.2 million in 1994.] In essence what the law says is that a spouse may divorce another spouse without needing to show proof that the spouse has done anything deserving divorce. In the 1950s there was a song, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, but today the chorus would be different as breaking up is entirely too easy to do. This week in Michigan a divorce reform bill will be introduced which will require people seeking divorce to: (1) Prove fault, such as adultery or abuse; (2) Participate in family therapy; (3) Plan ahead concerning their children’s care and financial future. In addition there will be a part aimed at engaged couples that would make prenuptial counseling beneficial by providing cheaper marriage licenses to those couples who participate in it.

If only we could reach out to couples where they are right now and tell them that God has a plan for their marriage, and that part of that plan is that they commit themselves to stay together permanently, O what a difference it would make in the situation of our nation right now. Permanence, that’s one of the things that marriage calls for from it’s participants.

Marriage Calls for Acceptance.

Let’s clear the air right now about a couple of things. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. When my wife and I became one flesh in a spiritual sense (not sexual) an amazing thing happened, we discovered that there were rough spots on each other that needed to be worked out. I found out she wasn’t perfect, and she discovered that her “Knight in Shining Armor”–she really used to call me that…..before we were married–had a few spots of rust in his suit.

The mistake that many couples make is determining to change the other person to conform them into the image that you perceive they must fit. When we do that we essentially are telling God that He didn’t do a good enough job and we had better take over from there! You say, “That’s not what I’m trying to do at all.”, alright, then tell me: Who created your spouse? Who gave him/her to you? Does God make mistakes? We would do well to remember the words to a children’s song I learned and apply them to our mates:

He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be…

Each of us is a work in progress in the hands of God, and we must remember that when we consider all the “rusty spots” on our spouse we too have rusty spots.

Acceptance means accepting your spouse as the gift God gave you and saying, “You do not have to perform to earn my love or support. I promise to give myself to you as an encouragement and to be honest with you.” It means that your spouse is valuable to you just as he/she is. Where there is acceptance you will find an excitement and a freedom to try new things because there will not be the fear of being shot down for mentioning it or ridiculed when it doesn’t work. And it is this type of acceptance and unconditional love that allows a couple to become one flesh intimately.

[1] Strike The Original Match, Charles R. Swindoll Insight For Living, WORD Publishing

[2] Strike The Original Match, Charles R. Swindoll Insight For Living, WORD Publishing


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