Foothills Bible College
God’s Design for Marriage
By Dr. Tom Walker
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
God has a design for marriage. When you get ready to build a house, you find the proper blue-print that sketches out the design you have in mind for your dwelling. God’s plan is always best. Though men may cling to plans devised in their own mind, the wise person will seek to discover what God’s arrangement might be by looking into the Word of God.
Actually, God reiterates the truth of Mark 10:7-8 in three other passages. It is found in Genesis 2:24; Matt. 19:5; and Ephesians 5:31. This statement is found once in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. The Holy Ghost sees to it that there is one mention of it before man fell into sin, and three times after the fact.
God gives a once and for all blue print for having a good marriage. It is one thing to have a marriage and another thing to have a good one.
Too many marriages today are experiencing unhappiness, hostility and turmoil. It is true not only of lost people, but also of people who say they are saved and love the Lord. Their failure to follow God’s blueprint is a major reason why so many relationships are not working efficiently today.
Our text verse can be divided into three different levels of study. If we summarized these three areas and divided them up, these words would apply: leaving, cleaving, and weaving.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother”
Does this verse teach us we forsake or abandon our parents? Certainly not…the Bible teaches that children are to “honor” both father and mother (Exodus 20:12). To “honor” is the opposite of forsaking or abandoning. You do not have to move a thousand miles away from your parents.
What does it mean to “leave” your parents when it comes to a marriage relationship? It suggests that you establish an adult to adult relationship with your parents. You must be more concerned about your mate’s ideas, opinions, and practices than those of your parents. One must not be overly dependent upon his or her parents for affection, counsel, approval or assistance. A person needs to remove all bad attitudes toward parents or you will be emotionally tied to them no matter how far away from them you live. Leaving father and mother means you stop trying to change your mate just because your parents do not like him or her.
Living close to parents at the start of your marriage gives opportunity for nosey and over bearing parents to interfere in a marriage. A parent can be so involved in the life of a child that the child becomes an emotional cripple; however, that is a mistake.
Parents, when your children are married, you should not try to run their lives. Encourage him or her to make their own decisions and to look toward the marriage partner as his primary resource of guidance, companionship and affection.
Too many today look for divorce as an easy way out. They say, “If our marriage doesn’t work, we can get a divorce.” There is nothing easy about divorce, especially when children are involved.
The word “leave” is also translated “forsake” in our King James Bibles. The word suggests to us there is a priority relationship once two people are married. That relationship is the husband and wife relationship.
“and cleave to his wife”
The word “cleave” is an interesting word. The word means “to glue or adhere or stick to something or someone.” It can also mean “to bind.”
Before a book is bound there are a number of separate pages. Most books are glue bound at the spine. With the glue, all of the separate pages become one book. That is a picture of what is to happen when two people are joined in holy matrimony.
God’s preference is that a marital relationship last. I believe the Lord gives an exception clause in Matthew 19:9- “except if be for fornication” or sexual immorality. Some couples find a good marriage counselor to seek to heal a broken marriage. If there is any way possible, a couple should seek to work out differences and dissension. I recognize that sometimes it is not always possible due to deep seated emotional problems on the part of one of the marriage partners. Children should not be subject to scenes that can contribute to their emotional instability due to seeing parents fight, fuss and fume all the time. The kids have to be considered when one evaluates the longevity of a relationship.
Cleaving speaks of dependence. Marriage partners are to be dependent upon one another, not their parents, for the stability they need for daily living.
Cleaving speaks of devotion. Married people are to be devoted to each another in good times and in bad times. There is a loyalty that must not be broken as long as there is a workable relationship between a man and a woman.
Cleaving speaks of determination. People often give up too easily on relationships. It helps to possess a resolve you are going to do all you can do to make your relationship what it ought to be by God’s divine assistance. Determination alone is not sufficient, but it does help promote longevity.
“And they twain shall be one flesh, so then they are no more twain but one flesh”
Knitting is a form of manual weaving. My dad worked for years in a cotton mill where the cotton strands were woven together to make material by a machine. But, there are those who knit by intricately weaving strands together by their hands. It is called crocheting.
Recently I was in a rest home and one of our members was sitting in her chair manually, with her own hands, weaving or crocheting a baby blanket. All the strands were becoming one beautiful baby blanket.
How does this come about in marriage? First, the couple should realize they are a team. Do what you do for the sake of the other person. Be concerned about the other persons needs, whatever they may be.
Secondly, they should share as much as possible together. They share their possessions, bodies, ideas, abilities, problems, successes, sufferings, failures and whatever else might be added to this list. Sharing is an evidence of caring.
Thirdly, don’t let differences hinder your unity. Husbands and wives can be different in so many ways. Differences should not hinder unity in marriage because it is God’s will and plan that there be unity in the marital bond.
Fourthly, live a holy life and avoid sinning. Sin destroys relationships. It will not bring you together, it will certainly divide. When sin entered the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid in the garden. There is no need to try to hide sin from the Lord. He has an all-seeing eye- He knows. Sins like pride, selfishness, bitterness, ingratitude, harshness, cruelty, unhealthy speech, impatience and a host of other things destroys the oneness of husbands and wives.
Realize God’s design for marriage and work within that divine plan.
(Tom Walker is President of Foothills Baptist Bible College and Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Marion, NC.)