The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:20-25
For those of us raised in church, this is an easy passage to just think to ourselves, “Yeah, yeah. I know. Adam and Eve. Leave. Cleave. Become one. I've heard it all before.” But inside these few verses is the real essence of marriage as God designed it - the picture God uses to describe the husband-wife relationship: Cleaving or Clinging. Or as this translation is saying, “hold fast.” But let's put those words into something that we can all understand.
Some of you may be familiar with the name, Louie Zamperini, or the movie Unbroken. Louie was a member of the armed forces in WWII. On a search and rescue mission in 1943, his plane had mechanical problems and crash-landed into the ocean. Only Louie and two other crew members survived. Somehow they managed to secure a raft and a few meager supplies. Louie was adrift at sea for 47 days. 47 days!
How desperately do you think Louie and his companions clung to that raft? Adrift in the Pacific ocean with huge waves, torrential rains, unrelenting sun, and sharks circling around the raft, I get the picture that they were holding fast with all their strength to that raft. That is the picture God gives to us in cleaving or clinging. Here is what one counselor shares on this idea of clinging as God designed it for marriage:
We don’t cling to something we don’t need!
We don’t cling unless we are in need - in trouble, or scared.
We cling to what we see as good - what we value and treasure.
We cling to what we don’t want to live without. (1)
Husband or wife – do those four things honestly describe how you and your spouse cling to one another? In this world where independence and self-sufficiency are so highly regarded, isn't it like the Lord to make His picture of marriage so different from what the world sees as important in marriage?
Please don't miss this in the Genesis 2 text above. The way the Lord created Eve was different from how He created Adam. Instead of using the dust of the ground, God took a rib from Adam – something that was part of him – and fashioned Eve. Then God brought Eve back to Adam. Do you see the picture of oneness in all this? What started out as one flesh was brought back together as one flesh, when God brings Eve to Adam. As Adam said “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. This is a picture of oneness as God designed it for marriage.
So let's wrap up by asking a couple of thought-provoking questions:
If God's picture of marriage is clinging, how are you doing at holding fast to your spouse? Read over the four statements above and honestly critique yourself.
If God designed us to become one as husband and wife, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how you are doing with growing in oneness spiritually, emotionally, and physically. (Rate each separately)
DISCUSS: Take 2-3 minutes to discuss what you just read together as well as the questions above. Talk with your spouse about anything you found insightful or challenging.
Suggested Prayer: Lord, thank You for this picture of oneness and clinging from Adam and Eve. Lord, we want to truly cling to each other – to know we deeply need each other. Help us to truly treasure one another and work to grow in oneness in all three areas: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Help our deep need and appreciation for one another to overflow out of our deep abiding relationship with You. In the Name of Jesus!
(1) Source: CCEF video: The Essence of Marriage: Link: bit.ly/essence-of-marriage (link is case sensitive)