Topical - Leave & Cleave
1. (Matt.19:4) Marriage—Divorce: Christ said there is the creation of male and female: “God made them [Adam and Eve] male and female” (Matthew 19:4). He did not make them males and females, as He did animals, but He made one male and one female. Each one was made for the other. They were not made for anyone else, for there was no one else.
Creation is the root basis for marriage: one male for one female; one female for one male. There was no one else, just Adam and Eve. This was not so with the creation of other animals. They were created en masse; a large number were created simultaneously. There is also the added fact that male and female were created spiritual beings, created for much higher purposes. Since there were no others like them, they were sharing their purposes together in constant fellowship with God.
2. (Matt.19:5) Marriage—Divorce: Christ said there is the creation of a new family: “A man [shall] leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife” (Matthew 19:5). One man shall cleave to his wife and create a new family distinct from the family of his parents. He says a man, not men, and his wife, not wives. Note that a man leaves his father and mother. The union between husband and wife is to gain primacy over the union between parent and child. The union of cleaving is wrought by God and appointed by God. Therefore marriage is a divine institution. Just as parents and children are not to divorce one another, neither are the husband and wife to divorce each other.
Father, mother, and child comprise a unit, a family. However, Christ said father and mother are there when the child leaves. And the child (man) leaves to “cleave to his wife.” There is no thought, not even a hint of separation in this statement. It is unquestionably a statement of God’s purpose for father, mother, and child. The structure of the family is the means by which man is to carry out the purposes of God on earth. Divorce, tearing down the structure of the family, is not the purpose of God. The structure of a family—father, mother, and child—is the purpose of God.
Note: Christ said the relation between father and mother is to be closer and more intimate, longer and more durable than that between parent and child. The day comes when the child (man) leaves the parent, and the parents are left with each other all alone. This says much to both husband and wife. They must not neglect their life together, for the day comes when they will be all alone and have the company only of one another.
3. (Matt.19:5-6) Marriage—Divorce: Christ said there is the creation of one body: “A man...shall cleave to his wife and they twain [two] shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). There is the moulding into one person. The man and the wife cleave to each other: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” What is it that makes them one flesh? Cleaving. They are one body, one flesh, one person. They are not joined to two or three or four other persons, but they cleave only to one other person.
Christ also says that a marriage joined together by Him is not to be destroyed by any man. “A man...shall cleave to his wife...wherefore [cleaving] they are no more twain, but one flesh [joined together by God]. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:5-6).
The points are clear.
1. The cleaving husband and wife are joined together by God.
2. No one is to cut asunder what God joins together. Neither the husband or wife nor anyone else is to step in between the two and cause separation.
Note something of critical importance. By cleaving Christ does not mean what is often thought or pictured: cleaving does not mean taking hold of a wife by civil contract, embracing, or sexual union.
Note the words...
Þ “one flesh”
Þ “what God has joined together”
Spouses who are obedient to Christ by cleaving to each other—in all of their being and life, not only physically, but also spiritually—are the ones who become one flesh. They are the ones whom God joins together. A civil contract does not bind people together, neither does embracing and neither does sex. Only God can bind a couple together spiritually, and He does so because a couple is obedient to Him. He rewards and blesses obedience, not disobedience.
Note how the power of God is infused into a couple who obeys Him. He causes their cleaving to bind them so closely together they are as one person.
Note a significant point: “They are no more twain, but one flesh.” “No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it”—he does not cut it off (Ephes. 5:29).
Cleave (kollao; proskollao): to join fast together; to glue together; to cement together; to be joined in the closest union possible; to be bound together; to be so totally united together that two become one. Therefore, to cleave means a spiritual union. It is a union higher and stronger than the union of parent and child. It is a union that means more than living together, more than having sex and bearing offspring. Animals do this. It is a union that can be wrought by God alone (Matthew 19:11). It is a spiritual union that places man above the physical plane of animals. It is a spiritual fullness, a spiritual sharing of life together: a dedication, a consecration, a completeness, a satisfaction that makes a person the exclusive possession of God and of the spouse. As said, such a cleaving or spiritual union is wrought by God alone. Both husband and wife must be willing and submissive for God to bring about such a cleaving in their lives. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear [trust] of God” (Ephes. 5:21; see outline— Ephes. 5:22-33 and notes— Ephes. 5:22-33).
There are three unions within a true marriage, that is, a marriage that really cleaves and is really joined together by God (Matthew 19:6).
1. There is the physical union: the sharing of each other’s body (1 Cor. 7:2-5). But note: physical sharing cannot reach its ultimate fulness unless it is experienced while conscious of God’s warm and tender mercies (Ephes. 5:25-33).
2. There is the mental union: the sharing of each other’s life and dreams and hopes and the working together to realize those dreams and hopes. It is important to note that this union still deals only with the physical and material world.
3. There is the spiritual union: the sharing and melting and moulding of each other’s spirit (see note— Ephes. 5:25-33). This can be wrought only by God. Therefore, there has to be a sharing together with God for there to be a nourishing and nurturing of the spirit.
Now here is the point: the greatest thing in the world is to know God personally and to be perfectly assured that we shall live now and eternally—to have life abundant with all the love, significance, meaning, and purpose humanly possible. But a man and a woman cannot experience abundant life of and by themselves. They can only nurture the mind and mesh themselves together mentally and physically. To be meshed together spiritually the couple must share God and His saving grace together. When a couple shares God together day by day, God works supernaturally within their spirits, melting their beings and moulding them into what He calls one flesh. They actually become as one person. This is what is meant by “God hath joined together.” The Greek word for “joined together” (sunzeugen) actually means to yoke together. It is God yoking, God joining, God binding the couple together into a spiritual union that causes them to become one person.
A couple who is spiritually united does two very practical things.
1. The couple “submits themselves one to the other in the fear of God” (Ephes. 5:21). They submit, yield, surrender, sacrifice, give themselves up to the other as they live day by day in the fear (trust) of God. Day by day they deliberately set out to nourish and cherish the other, even as the Lord nourishes and cherishes the church (Ephes. 5:29). They work to become part of each other—so deliberately that they seek to become part of each other’s body, each other’s flesh, each other’s bones (Ephes. 5:30). They seek to be joined “as one flesh,” no matter the surrender and sacrifice required. The meshing together is done by God. God takes such deliberate purpose and behavior, such a melting of one’s being, and moulds it into the flesh of the other—so much so the two actually become as one, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually as well.
2. The couple shares the presence of God and His saving grace together. As a result God gives them a spiritual assurance and strength which they share together throughout life. They share the knowledge and confidence...
Þ that God shall care for and look after them now and forever.
Þ that God shall carry them through the devastating trials of life that confront every human being every so often.
Þ that God shall bless them with all that is necesaary as they walk through life together.
Þ that God shall give them an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ—forever and ever.
Again, the point is this: God takes such deliberate sharing of spiritual things and melts and moulds the man and woman into one flesh spiritually—so much so that they actually become one. A man and a woman being spiritually united by God as one person is what cleaving means. Cleaving to one another in God’s Spirit is true marriage—the glorious gift of God.