Marriage was established by God in an archetype. That is, He created the first man from the dust of the ground, and fashioned the first woman from the man’s rib, and did so in order that we would have a pattern to follow. The language manifesting this as a grand template in evident in the text of Genesis.
“And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 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” (Gen. 2:22–24).
The word here rendered as therefore is alken, and could also be translated as “for this reason.” In other words, what God did in the formation of the first marriage is authoritative. God established the key that all of us are supposed to be singing in. We have, in short, heterosexual monogamy for life. This is what the sovereign God of creation has assigned to all humankind.
The Lord Jesus appeals to this very passage in His teaching on divorce, showing that it was not ever intended to be limited to Adam and Eve. What God did with the first couple at the beginning of the created order was an authoritative act, binding on marriages in the Lord’s time four thousand years later. That being the case, it remains binding six thousand years later, and will remain so until the end of the world. All the presidents and parliaments and resolutions and congresses in the world cannot undo what God has done. We can insult it, and draw down judgment on our own heads by doing so, but we cannot undo anything.
Now there are three applications the portion of the text draws for us. First, a man will leave his father and mother. Second, he will cleave to his wife. And third, as a result they will be one flesh. Leave, cleave, one flesh.
We should see readily how Adam came to his wife, and knew her, and so it was that they were one flesh. What Adam and Eve did is obviously what all married couples do. That part makes sense to us as a paradigm. But in what way did Adam serve as a model for leaving? It appears that he was just standing there.
But remember that God the Father played the role of the father of the bride (giving away the bride to her husband). The text is quite plain about this: “the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” The Lord God Himself walked the bride up the aisle.
In the same way, so also He played the role of father of the groom. We are told plainly in Scripture that Adam was a son of God—“the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38, ESV). Adam was not simply one who happened to show up. He had been created by God, and was a son of God. So the Lord God was also the father of the groom.
And when Adam received his bride, and pronounced a poetic oath over her—she shall be called woman—God was there as a witness and priest, officiating. We have the same elements here today. We have a man brought up to leave, now leaving. We have a bride brought up to be given, now given. We have a minister of Christ, charged to hear the vows and provide a witness before God and man that they were freely exchanged. For this reason, therefore, alken, here we are. Looking around, we even have an approximation of Eden.
So there was a sense in which Adam “left” God in order to take a wife. This obviously was not a breach of fellowship, as happened later when he disobeyed the command concerning the fruit. That means there is therefore a sense in which leaving is obedience. A son is designed by God to leave his father and mother. This is not to be done in anger, or out of resentment, or ingratitude—but it is to be done. As my wife once put it, there is only one thing worse than a son leaving home, and that is a son who doesn’t.
But obedient leaving—if the parents understand wisdom, and the son and daughter-in-law understand wisdom—does not result in distant coldness. No, what happens is that the closeness a family has from the early years grows up and matures into something far more glorious. When you are done, the fellowship an extended family has turns into a fine wine, distributed across the wine cellar, which cannot be compared to the early grape juice in a plastic jug, however nice that was.
There are two sins we commit with regard to maturity. One is that we reach for it far too early, grasping for good things we are not yet ready for. The other is resisting it when the time has come for it, wanting to hold on to the old good things we have grown accustomed to.
Kane and Ashlynne, today I am charging the two of you together to love God through His Christ, and in His Spirit, above all else. Love and honor one another. Honor your parents. Rejoice over your children. Let the love of God be the tie that binds it all together—and if that happens, it cannot be bound together wrong.
Kane, today I want to exhort you to be tough for your wife, which is a very different thing than being tough on her. God made you the way He did for a purpose, but that purpose has to be understood with Christ on the cross as your model for marriage. Jesus did not run from the sacrificial love that was assigned to Him, and neither may you. Love your wife that way, and you will see her growing up into ever-increasing loveliness. In the gospel, love bestows loveliness.
Ashlynne, my charge to you is this. Respect your husband. Look up to him, and honor him. Just as his love for you will bring ever-increasing loveliness, so also, in just the same ways, through the same kind of gospel logic, your respect for him will bestow ever-increasing respectability. In the gospel, we grow up into what we have been given.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.