Word By Mail

Leave to Become One Flesh

Session 3 (Audio Only)

We began looking at the key verse on marriage last session, Genesis 2:24, and we are heading back to that verse in this chapter.

You'll remember from our last session our KEY foundation scripture on marriage;

Genesis 2:24  (ESV)
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This verse encapsulates God's design for marriage in the same way John 3:16 encapsulates God's plan of salvation.

Session two's M.I.P. was: Every major marriage problem can be traced back to some conflict with these three commands - Leave - Cleave -Become One Flesh. Today we want to focus on the first of these three commands; Leave.

The first principle found in the "Genesis Command" for marriage is the word "Leave."

The reason God calls us to "Leave" is so that we can become one flesh (a subsequent process). In Genesis 2:24, this principle of leaving is applied specifically to our parents - because those ties must be radically changed - but by implication, this concept applies to all other relationships as well.

Dr. Ed Wheat says this:
“Marriage begins with a ‘leaving:’ leaving all other relationships. The closest relationship outside of marriage is specified here, implying that if it is necessary to leave your father and mother, then certainly all lesser ties must be broken, changed, or left behind.”

The first thing God requires of us to become one flesh is to leave in some sense all other relationships, beginning with our parents. The Bible calls us to always honor and care for our parents, but in the sense of emotional, relational, and physical dependence, we must leave that relationship with our parents.

And if that's true in our relationship with our parents, then it is certainly true in all other relationships.

So, here is our Most Important Point for session three;

Session Three M.I.P – (Most Important Point)
You must Loosen, Depart from, or Abandon ALL Other Relationships to Become One Flesh with your Spouse

Let's look at how this word "Leave" is translated in Hebrew and then see how we can apply it.

The following is adapted from "A Biblical Portrait of Marriage" by Bruce Wilkinson.
Notice the graduating levels of intensity in these 3 definitions of the Hebrew word that we translate LEAVE.
Hebrew “Leave” (AZAB) – 3 Key Definitions:
1) To Loosen
2) To Depart from
3) To Forsake or Abandon

Let's start with parents and then we'll move on from there.

Parents can do their children a great service by understanding the first key definition of this word LEAVE – it means "to loosen."

Parents must loosen the grip on their children as they prepare for marriage; they've got to release the reigns.

Pam and I have had to do this three times. The first time we had to do it was while I was teaching God's Design For Marriage for the first time.

For twenty years, our lives had been wrapped up in caring for the daily needs of our children; their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. We loved every minute of those years, and it's not easy to loosen that level of care.
But there comes a time when children must be released from their parents and their primary care transferred to their spouse, in ALL areas.

That does NOT mean children are not supposed to honor their father and mother any longer. But it DOES mean their primary allegiance, primary relationship, and primary care must change from their parents to their spouses.

Dr. Bruce Wilkinson suggests a formal "Apron String Cutting" ceremony at every wedding (for the parent’s good)...

To understand how serious this change in relationship priority is, let's look at the shocking quote Jesus made in Luke 14:26 about what it takes to be united to Him as His disciple.

Luke 14:26 (NLT) 
26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison - your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 

Jesus is not condoning hate here, of anyone. He's setting a clear priority by comparison. By comparison, our love for Him is to be at such a higher priority that it makes our love for anyone else look even like hate.

That's a radical statement of what it looks like to follow Jesus. But it gives a perfect example of what Genesis 2:24 means by saying we must leave, to some extent, ALL other relationships in order to become one flesh with our spouse.

It means that by comparison ... there is NO comparison.
In Matthew 10:37, Jesus says:

Matthew 10:37 (NLT) 
37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 

Again, this is a matter of priority of relationships, and the same explanation can be used for the marriage relationship. If someone holds their father or mother (or anyone else) in a higher priority (by comparison) to their spouse, then they are not ready to be married.  If they don't leave, to some extent, ALL other relationships, they will not be able to become ONE FLESH with their spouse.

This doesn't mean we stop honoring our parents, it doesn't mean we stop being a part of their lives, it doesn't mean we can't have other friends and interests.

But it does mean there can never be any other relationship that even compares to the commitment and the priority we put on our marriage relationship. In all sense of priority, we must leave every other relationship. We must be willing to forsake all others for our spouse.

The first definition for the Hebrew word Leave is - To Loosen.
The second definition for Leave is - To Depart From.

This definition has a definite physical sense to it.

It means to separate yourself physically or geographically. To become one flesh, you cannot be physically attached to any other person again, including your parents.

This means, in general, you really shouldn't be living with your parents after you're married, except for short-term necessities.

No Emotional Control – No Financial Control – No Relational Control

That doesn't mean you don't get counsel and wisdom from others. It means if there is a control problem, especially with your parents, sometimes you must remove yourself physically or even geographically from that control, for the sake of your marriage.

You must loosen and depart from all other relationship priorities in order to become one flesh with your spouse.

So – the first definition is to Loosen (a Priority Change)
        the second definition is to Depart From (a Physical Change)

The third and strongest definition for the Hebrew word translated “Leave” is:
“To Forsake or Abandon."

In classic marriage vows, we hear the words forsaking all others, and that's exactly what this definition for the word leave means.
I once received a call from a newlywed couple having an argument, and they wanted me to tell them who was right. Here was the couple's question:

Was it okay for the husband to maintain a strictly friendship-relationship with a girl who used to be his high-school girlfriend??

The answer is: absolutely - positively - without a doubt, NO! God's command is to forsake and abandon that relationship!

There can never be any relationship or interest that compares to the commitment and priority we put on our marriage relationship.

It is God's design for you to forsake and abandon ANY relationship that could be detrimental to your marriage. In reality, ALL individual relationships with members of the opposite sex must be forsaken and abandoned, in order for you to become "one flesh" with your spouse.

In reality, all individual relationships with the opposite sex should be, in effect, forsaken and abandoned.
There should be no individual relationships with a person of the opposite sex.

Let's look again at the graduating intensity in these definitions.

“Leave” – Hebrew word “AZAB”:
            1) To Loosen - - to release, to re-prioritize
            2) To Depart From - - to pull back from, physically
            3) To Forsake or Abandon - - to utterly disregard

Some relationships you must “Loosen” (change Priority)
Some relationships you must “Depart From” (Physically Change)
Some relationships you must “Forsake and Abandon” (Run away)

This applies to ANY relationship that causes stress and conflict in your marriage.

I knew a couple where the wife's single friends would take her out dancing with other guys on a "girl's night out" - those are the kinds of relationships that must be forsaken and abandoned.

Most every person I know who is married - has had to forsake and abandon some relationships when they got married.

These definitions of the word leave apply not only to relationships but to other interests as well. Work, hobbies, even ministry. We've got to reset our priorities on all these things. At times we have to depart from them, and at times we must forsake and abandon them for the benefit of our marriage.

Does this mean you'll never be able to do those things? NO!!

It means, from a priority standpoint, you must be willing to re-prioritize and even radically change, ALL other relationships and interests for your spouse. That is the first step to becoming "one flesh."

Unless you are willing to leave, at some level, all other relationships and interests, you will never develop the true "one flesh" relationship God designed for your marriage.

Now, to close this lesson . . .

Bringing God's design into your marriage requires honestly responding to God and to your spouse. Here's your opportunity in this lesson.

This may be difficult, but PLEASE, hang in there and do the HARD things.

Please trade workbooks with each other, in order to write in each other's workbook.

Take your time, and do this honestly. Write up to three relationships or interests you would like to see your spouse re-prioritize for the benefit of your marriage. Then hand your spouse's workbook back to them.

The following is to be completed by your spouse:
Three relationships or interests I would like to see take a lower priority in our marriage (written by your spouse):
PLEASE TAKE YOUR OWN WORKBOOK BACK FROM YOUR SPOUSE.  The following is to be completed by you:
Am I willing to take tangible steps to re-prioritize the relationships my spouse listed above?
          #1 (from above) yes __        no __
          #2 (from above) yes __        no __
          #3 (from above) yes __        no __
If you checked a NO box, are you willing to bring this before the Lord and have further loving conversations with your spouse about it? ______
 Spouses, IF your spouse checked a NO box, don't overreact. In your homework this week I'm going to ask you to continue this discussion with your spouse.

If there are any other relationships or interests that have the potential to damage your marriage, you have got to be willing to: loosen them – depart from them – or forsake and abandon them altogether.

When you do, you will be on your way to becoming One Flesh.

Let's pray.

Heavenly God, these are hard things to look at and talk about. But with the power of your Holy Spirit, we can do these things. Help us to become one flesh. Help us to honestly look at our lives and to loosen, depart from or forsake anything in our life that has the potential to damage our relationship with our spouse. We commit to continue to crucify our self-will, and we commit to seek your will in our marriage. Please continue to reveal your design to us, and please continue to transform our marriage. In Jesus' name, Amen.
And now, please do the homework . . .