One important aspect of the establishment of a new marriage is God’s command for a husband and wife to establish their own home and family. When God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24-25), He was speaking a foundational truth about building a new marriage. Scripture is teaching that leaving is an important and vital piece to a couple’s marriage journey. As a husband and wife leave, they shift their allegiance, dependence, and loyalty from their family of origin to their spouse.
Because parents have been responsible for protecting, providing, and nurturing their child throughout their lifetime, it can feel unnatural when their child leaves. Changing one’s role as a parent can be difficult or confusing to work through. However, change is normal and necessary when your child gets married. Your role now becomes about releasing your child and encouraging their journey of oneness with their spouse.
God’s Design for Oneness
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)
Adam accepted Eve as a gift from the Lord without knowing her fully. He accepted her solely based on God’s character and his faith that God was providing for his needs through that gift. Likewise, Eve was trusting the Lord when she was given to Adam. Their responses were grounded in their relationships with the Lord. God gives them to each other as a gift and as a provision for one another. In the same way, your son or daughter is choosing to receive their spouse as a gift from the Lord. For you as a parent, this is also a journey of trust. You will have the privilege and responsibility to support and encourage them when marriage and life become difficult by pointing them back to their commitment and their trust in the Lord.
Because your son or daughter receives their spouse as a gift from the Lord, they are commanded to leave their families of origin in order to establish dependency on and allegiance to each other. Leaving is done in obedience to God’s command and design, not as an affront to the parents. This process creates the best environment for a godly, healthy marriage to form, launches each person into their roles of husband and wife, and above all else, protects their oneness.
The original Hebrew word for “united” or “cleave” is dabaq (pronounced da-vek). This word has broad and deep meaning regarding the mysterious process of a man and a woman becoming one flesh. The most fitting picture is glue, and even the modern Hebrew word for glue today is devek. This ‘glue’ will be the covenant made at their wedding, the spoken promise made between the two of them in the presence of God. As husband and wife, they are fundamentally committing to God and inviting Him into the process of joining them and maintaining the union for a lifetime. The permanence of this promise is ultimately safeguarded by God Himself.
“Become” in the above passage is best understood as becoming, denoting a lifelong process. Husband and wife are on a journey of becoming one in every aspect, including spiritually, emotionally, logistically, financially, and sexually. As they go through life and pursue oneness, their covenant is their stability. “One flesh” represents not just a physical union, but uniting the totality of two persons, grounded in their lifelong promise.
What is the parent’s role in this process?
From the time our children are born, parenting in a healthy manner requires us to continually release our children to the Lord and to ever-increasing autonomy as they grow. Releasing begins early in parenting, and it’s never easy to do. God granted parents the responsibility to raise their children for the Lord. You will never stop being a parent. However, your role and your responsibilities change with their marriage—just like they changed as your child proceeded from kindergarten to middle school and middle school to adulthood. In their upcoming marriage, God now commands our children to leave, greatly impacting your role as parents. At this time, the parent's role is to release their children to the spouse they have chosen and once again to the Lord. As your adult child is leaving, a parent is called to step out of the way of their leaving and even to encourage them in the process.
Most parents teach their children to be independent, yet God teaches all of us to become dependent on Him. So, as you release your child, remember that God is on the other side encouraging their dependence on Him. Isn’t that what you would ultimately want for your child? However, if a parents attempts to remain at the center of their child’s life, they are harming their formation of oneness with the Lord and with their spouse. Doing so will also eventually harm the parent-child relationship.
Why are leaving and cleaving important to establishing a new marriage?
If leaving is not done properly, it can undermine the ability for a new marriage to form oneness in the early stages, greatly affecting the strength of the couple’s bond. Therefore, boundaries established early in the leaving process help create the best environment for the marriage to take root.
Sometimes parents with the best of intentions can unknowingly create difficulty for a young couple to embrace God’s design of becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:25). Because parents have a longer history with their children, the children can be biased toward choosing their parent’s way/advice over considering their spouse’s and asking the Lord for His. In addition, parents may have strong opinions and even attach their approval to those opinions, making it difficult for the children to receive their input as suggestion. Any of this, added to a typical child’s desire for their parent’s approval, can result in complicated and emotionally charged situations. In these and other ways, parents can knowingly or unknowingly cause wedges between a husband and a wife, even in subtle and unintended ways, causing hurt and confusion in all directions.