Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Leaving and Cleaving (Mark 10:1-16)

“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Mark 10:7).

A foundational principle for marriage is delineated four times in Scripture: “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Two points are included in this mandate: leave and cleave. The first we study today, the second tomorrow.

“A man” must leave because he takes action and leaves his parents, and a woman is given away. Ultimately, however, both must separate from their parents. This does not mean you neglect your parents; you should continue to honor them. It does mean that your relationship with them changes dramatically. Before you married, you depended on your parents. They exercised authority over you. Once you married, your parents’ authority over you ceased. You no longer live according to your parents’ desires, but according to the desires of your spouse. While you can certainly seek parents’ advice (with your spouse’s approval), you are not required to go to them for counsel, or to abide by any they give.

Leaving your parents means that you make the relationship with your husband or wife the number one relationship in your life. Your spouse, and his or her desires are your first priority. You should never try to change your spouse to please your parents or anyone else. Parents can undermine a marriage by complaining about their child’s spouse. A good rule is never to allow a parent to speak disrespectfully about your mate even in the most subtle ways.

Many marriages have been wrecked because the husband or wife, or both, could not leave their parents—emotionally and sometimes physically, residing within their reach. Parents can be guilty, too. While parents should have been preparing their child to leave the nest, they are often unprepared themselves when the time comes. They find they would rather have the relationship remain unaltered. Such a stubborn grasp on the status quo causes problems for all involved. If you have children who are married, do not try to run their lives. If you discern that your child is still dependent upon you, take the initiative to cut those apron strings and encourage your son or daughter to rely on his or her spouse for love and security.

Discuss with your spouse whether either of you have not “left” your parents. If you have children, what are you doing to train them and prepare yourselves for the inevitable separation? If you have any married children, do you facilitate their dependence on you? It so, confess it and let your child go.