What does “leave and cleave” mean?


By BibleAsk Team

The Leave and Cleave Principle

The Bible teaches the “leave and cleave” principle of God’s order for marriage and family. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). A man and woman leave their birth families and begin a new family, and they cleave to each other with love.

A spouse that allows interference from his parents, in-laws, or extended family is not following God’s command in Ephesians 5:25-33. If leaving parents and birth family after marriage causes issues, the following are some guidelines on how to deal with the birth and extended family:

Some After Marriage Guidelines

  1. Explain to the parents God’s directions of the leave and cleave principle in Genesis 2:23-24 and Ephesians 5:25-33.
  2. Set respectful and loving boundaries (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Guard your privacy. Keep family problems inside your home (James 4:11).
  4. Assure your parents and in-laws of your continual love to them (Deuteronomy 5:16). Spend quality time with them (Mark 12:31).
  5. Leaving family after marriage does not mean a disconnect. Allow parents and in-laws to spend enough time with your children (1 Corinthians 13). Involve parents and in-laws with your family occasions like birthdays, holidays, wedding, graduations…etc. (Ephesians 4:2).
  6. Never dishonor your partner before your parents or in-laws (Ephesians 5:22-33).
  7. Worship God with your parents and in-laws (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  8. Be financially independent, if possible (Romans 13:8).
  9. Always apply the “golden rule”- Do unto others what you wish them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).
  10. Make sure you meet the financial obligations of the needy elderly family members (1 Timothy 5:8)

So while leaving the birth family after marriage is Biblical, parents and in-laws should be treated with respect and love. The Bible teaches, “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). And finally, remember the fifth commandment – the only commandment with a promise states, “Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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