In HOPE 8.31 

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David Timms  


Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, teach me to cleave. Heal my fierce independence, forgive my self-preoccupation, and re-align my wayward heart that keeps embracing what the world admires. Father, open my hands that I might release my grip on what's temporary and cling to You. Guide me in the way of joyful subservience. Holy Spirit -- dare I pray this? -- wrench from me the things that hinder my love for others and for You. In this moment, I leave and cleave, again. Strengthen me to multiply such moments. Amen.

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Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831


"For this reason,
a man shall leave his father and mother
and cleave to his wife
and the two shall become one flesh."

(Genesis 2:24)

And Cleave

Paul called it a mystery (Ephesians 5:31-32). But at first glance it seems more like a mistake. Men don't "leave and cleave." Stereotypically, women do!

The ancient writer of the creation story seems to have it backwards. The Lord forms a woman out of Adam's rib and brings her to him. Adam, in a rapturous moment, declares that she is "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, and shall be called woman because she is taken out of man."

Then comes the strange twist. "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife ; and they shall become one flesh."

Cleaving sounds decidely dependent. Like a child wrapping herself around her daddy's leg, cleaving seems altogether too subservient. Guys don't cleave. They control! They don't hang on. They take the wheel!

Indeed, the text has such an uncomfortable ring to it that the New International Version offers a pallid translation: "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife ; and they will become one flesh."

Be united?

The Hebrew word (dabaq) is used elsewhere in the Old Testament when Ruth clung to her mother-in-law amidst their mutual grief (Ruth 1:14). It also appears in multiple texts that exhort Israel to "cling to the Lord your God" (for example, Deut 10:20; 11:22; and Josh 22:5).

This is the stuff of infatuation and devotion -- rarified air for many males once a marriage sets in.

We cleave to our jobs, our sports, our toys, or our TVs. We cleave to power, fame, and success. But cleave to our wives?

Perhaps this highlights one of the reasons why many marriages fail completely or fail to produce the kind of intimacy that pre-marital counselors glow about. We don't cleave. We can't cleave. We fear it and resist it because, at best, it suggests weakness on our part.

But the apostle Paul packs the toughest punch.He called it a mystery (Ephesians 5:31-32). And then connects this "marriage text" to Jesus and the Church. Those who do not cleave to their wives quite probably do not cleave to Christ, either.

May we learn the art of cleaving, to each other and to Him.

In HOPE --



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.