And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH '? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."… Matthew 19:4-6
Chris and I have been married for over 24 years and I believe that this important lesson, which we learned early on in our marriage, has been a saving element for us through the years.
Leave and cleave!
We were 21 years old when we tied the knot. Most of our family probably thought we were way too young and were acting foolishly. I know it was out of love and concern for our well-being that they tried to persuade us from going through with it, but we could not be moved. Our love wanted nothing more than to be united in a covenant bound before God. We knew that our love was worthy of not being wasted on a generic commitment expressed through just living together. We wanted to become one.
Despite our youth, we understood that once we were married, our unity took precedence over all other relationships we had, no matter the depth or length of that relationship. In fact, it was probably because of our youth that we believed that we didn’t need anyone else. We were each other’s best friend. There was no one else with which we wanted to hang out. We satisfied each other’s needs in every way. The true gift and miracle is that all of these realities still apply to us today.
In the early days of our marriage, there were several times when this commitment to unity was tested. There were arguments and disagreements that could have easily sent us running back to the safety of our parents. Yet, we had decided that our issues were our own. We would work them out ourselves, trusting in the ultimate love we had for each other. I never even considered bad mouthing my husband to my mom and dad. I never gossiped to my friends about the difficulties we experienced. Those closest to us would occasionally see the spats between us, but they never saw the unity being split. We were human to a fault, but we cleaved to each other as we hashed out this thing called marriage.
This lesson has stayed with us for these last decades. To this day, Chris and I will still have our issues and disagreements. In some ways, older age has made us more obstinate and stubborn at times, causing the resolution to take longer. Yet, we always find a way. Why? Because we have never lost our commitment to unity. There is no other choice in our eyes. We have never run to mom and dad, we have never sought refuge in other friends, and we have never put our children in the middle of our fights. We only have each other to which to cleave, so we will figure it out. That lack of other alternatives has bonded us together even closer through the years. Now, more than ever, I feel that Chris and I have become one flesh. Despite my strong sense of independence and strength, I am not complete without my husband. He makes me better than I could ever be without him. And the fullness of that unity is found in the beauty of our children. They are flowers that are blooming in the light of a bond that acts as a guard of protection to our family.
When Chris and I are linked in a unifying love, we are very much like that image of Gandalf, from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Fellowship of the Ring. At that moment in the Mines of Moria, as the evil from the pit of hell came against the fleeing fellowship, Gandalf stood in the gap, lifting his scepter in defiance and shouts,
“YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
That’s us. That’s what all marriage should shout to those on the outside. YOU SHALL NOT PASS. The bonds of holy matrimony is nothing to fool around with. The power that resides in that unity is eternal and world changing. When a couple stands united against all that seek to divide, no matter how well intending, grace pours into that marriage and all kinds of blessing is bestowed.
To all you young married couples, couples approaching the the unity of marriage, or you old timers out there, stay unified. Be that defiant hero who refuses to allow evil to pass between you. Stand firm in the commitment you made to leave and cleave, becoming one flesh. No other relationship, even that of your children, is more important than the bond of husband and wife. Why? Because it is through that covenant that God chose with which to identify. It is through that bond that grace pours into your family, and even into your very soul. There must be unity. Stand together and allow the grace of God to work miracles.
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