For a marriage to work, there is to be “cleaving.” To “cleave” means to ” hang on or to be stuck on something.” But “cleaving” cannot fully, lastingly happen until “leaving” has been accomplished. The order is important!
It would be easy to think that the “cleaving” is the fun part. After all, we’re talking about “sticking” ourselves to someone we love, right? Of “gluing” ourselves to another. Sometimes that is a beautiful, incredible and even miraculous thing.
Sometimes it looks like the lovebugs. You’ve seen them… little black seemingly “two headed” insects that appear in the fall, and ruin our car’s finish and our windshield’s clarity. But have you watched them closely? They are stuck to each other, rear to rear (“abdomen to abdomen” for you entomology sticklers). I’ve wondered as these things awkwardly fly and crash into objects to their death, if being “stuck” together really felt good to them? As they fly they seem to be flying away from each other.
I see some couples who are trying unsuccessfully to “cleave” to each other. And it isn’t working… it’s an awkward, painful, even self-destructive dance… and it’s so for one simple reason. Like the love bugs, they fly against each other instead of toward each other.
But when cleaving works it’s a wonderful thing to see. When two people learn to walk together, live together in harmony, share life together, fly the same direction… marriage soars! The experience of sharing life with another is beautiful when we remember that we are in this flight together.
Cleaving requires sacrifice. In fact, it requires dying to ourselves that we might truly find ourselves. Marriage, at its core, is discipleship. It is made to help us on the way to being more like Jesus… more giving, more sacrificial, more other-focused, more self-denying. But marriages that fail get this backward. We take instead of giving. We seek what we want instead of asking what the other wants. We become self absorbed, self centered. We do not deny ourselves… we exalt ourselves!
And being “stuck” to a person like that is unpleasant at best….an experience to be escaped if we can. But it was never God’s intention for marriage to be unpleasant or an unhappy experience. In fact, it is one of His greatest gifts to mankind. We distort it. We destroy it. We make it unpleasant.
But when Adam and Eve stood in the Garden together, perfectly united as one, God said
“It is good.” And it can be good… again.
“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be united (cleave) to his wife and they two shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)