The Leave and Cleave Relationship

Every society has at least one. North America has them, more the exception than the rule; but Southeast Asia has its full. What am I talking about? Men who cleave to their mothers.

Is the man in your life tied to his mother’s apron strings? Is he Mama’s little boy? Are you in a joint family dominated by your mother-in-law? Does your husband listen to his mother rather than you? Or maybe even worse, are you subject to the torrential onslaught of an abusive mother-in-law who pours verbal, emotional and/or physical blows upon you?

Many societies have turned God’s blueprint for a happy marriage upside down, Daughter-in-laws are the last in the totem pole somewhere down the line of Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, son, sisters-in-laws, and children and then the lowly bride (aka daughter-in-law). In fact the boy’s father may well be blocked out as well as the strongest bond in this kind of family is the mother-son relationship. This hierarchy is man’s idea and was never God’s design. When His design is twisted, then trouble and heartache are guaranteed.

God’s blueprint is very different. He was the one that put Adam and Eve together. Not only was he the Creator but he was also the One who married them. You could say that he performed the very first marriage ceremony in history. What words of wisdom did he pronounce over our ancestral mother? Well God didn’t really give any words but He did sanction the idea that “a man should leave his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” How far wrong have we come?

The God-given hierarchy in relationships is God first, spouse second, children third and then parents and in-laws fourth or so down the line. But when the parent-child relationship remains the primary relationship, problems arise. The couple cannot unite as one, there is no oneness between husband and wife. The marriage breaks down and the new family suffers, in fact all suffer for neither is there harmony between husband and wife nor is there ’t harmony between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law which means the son and mother relationship is also strained. We have one very unhappy household.

Cleave includes the idea to pursue hard after someone and to be glued or stuck to that person. So courtship doesn’t end with the marriage vows, it is to continue throughout the marriage. The husband and wife are to stick to each other as glue. This indicates a closeness that doesn’t include a parent in between; otherwise the glue doesn’t stick and the marriage falls apart, if not physically at least emotionally.

Leaving parents and cleaving to our spouse doesn’t mean that we don’t honour our parents. We don’t ignore them or continue to value all the things they have done for us. It doesn’t mean letting them suffer or not taking care of them if need be. And it does pose challenges if we live in a patriarchal society where the joint family exists and the son brings his new bride into his parents’ home.

Sometimes the mother-daughter relationship is the primary one, but in most cases, at least in Asian societies, it is the son-mother relationship that needs to take second place to building a relationship with the wife. How is this to be done? Ideally, son’s need to follow God’s principle of leaving and cleaving. But what do you do if the ideal doesn’t happen?

If you live in a society where there is no support system, no safe houses for abused women, then practically there is no way to distance yourself from the situation. For myself, living under abuse, my escape was to God. It was in Him that I found strength for each day, comfort from the heartache and hope for a better tomorrow. Sometimes all God gave me was a sighting of a beautiful bluebird or the warm rays of sunshine. But in God who loves us unconditionally and sees every teardrop we drop, I found my comfort and solace.


Walking in the Garden with God

I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear singing in my ear, The Son of God discloses.

A young lady I know started teaching children the Qur’an in the mosque as there was no male religious leader to do so. She was quickly advised by a man that she couldn’t do this because she was a woman.

Religion tells us that as a daughter of Eve, we cannot enter a mosque. Religion tells us that as a daughter of Eve we cannot hold a pastoral position for a woman’s voice must not be heard in the church. Religious traditions says that the daughters of Eve cannot pray or read Holy Scriptures during their menstrual times. Yet I would like to portray a very different picture of how God views a woman’s spirituality.

Imagine if you will a beautiful garden lined with fruit trees, radiant with a rainbow of blooms and fragrant with jasmine and cherry blossoms. A visit to the garden at any time is pleasurable and relaxing, soothes the tired brow. Now it is the cool of the evening, the garden’s peaceful paths stretch out before you. Into this beautiful garden enters Adam and Eve walking, talking, laughing; enjoying each other’s company. But wait! Who is that third figure? It is God walking with them, both of them. How would you like to walk in a garden with God as your companion? Adam and Eve were privileged to walk with him and commune with him, have fellowship with him. One as to wonder what topics he discussed, what spiritual truths he gave them, what loving advice he bestowed upon them.

But the point is that both Adam and Eve could walk with God, there was no distinction. How very unlike our religious intuitions today. I like God’s way better and I am encouraged and strengthened, empowered to know that God values the worship of both men and women, He wants to walk in the garden with the sons and daughters of His Creation.

Were Adam and Eve Equal?

Unequivocally yes, once upon a time, Adam and Eve were considered equal. In fact their lives together sound fantastical when you compare it to today’s perception of male and female statuses.

God fashioned Adam and Eve in His image, “God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He crated them.” Note that there is no distinction between how He created Adam and Eve. BOTH were created in His image, therefore both were created equal. Both Adam and Eve were created in His likeness. That means that each person had God given and God like characteristics; the abilities of high intelligence, moral character and emotions; and of course equal in spiritual desires for God for He wrote eternity on the heart of both male and female.

Moreover after God had created everything, he saw that EVERYTHING he had created was very good. That included Eve. Eve was very good!

And Eve was created to work alongside of Adam. The above verse says ‘let them rule’; it doesn’t say Let Adam, or let the man rule, but let them – that is both male and female. So Eve was Adam’s co-equal, his team mate, his partner in life.

This paints a harmonious picture of husband and wife working together, overseeing the animal and plant kingdoms. They walked hand-and-hand together, at one with each other and with God. They were equal.

The Rib Stealer

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

  • Jesus Christ

The minute Satan deceived Adam and Eve (yes both of them) in the garden, Eve’s God-given position was destroyed. Satan was the first one to steal Eve’s rib and destroy her worth in society. He is the thief that stole her true identity. Since then, men have taken their lead from the devil and have not acknowledged that Adam and Eve were created equal. Eve was of the same flesh as Adam, from his rib so that she would be equal to him in all things. If a man does not respect the daughters of Eve, considering them his equal, then he has a mind after Satan and not after God for although God pronounced the curses, they were not part of God’s plan for the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.

The result of sin in the world was a curse upon three; 1) Eve, who would suffer in childbearing and her husband would rule over her, 2) Adam who would toil, work hard to feed his family and provide them with shelter and 3) Satan who would be depicted as the lowest of animals and there would be enmity between the woman and Satan, between her seed and his seed. But the promise is that her offspring (that is Jesus Christ) will bruise his head. (At the end of time, the Christ will send Satan to hell.)

But the results of sin do not have to last forever and we can even bring a halt to it in our own lives. When men and women begin to follow Jesus, a renewal of the mind begins. “For there is neither Jew nor non-Jew, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The original order is restored and Eve is given back her rib, to be equal, to be strong and independent. That is how Christ sees it and that is what those who follow his teachings learn and begin to follow.

The Great Rib Robbery

“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”

– Matthew Henry

Over the years, Eve has been robbed of her rib. She has been trod underfoot, abused, ridiculed and treated with disdain as if she was made out of the dust of Adam’s feet. She and her daughters have been stripped of their equality with man, reduced to a subordinate and sometimes even worse, subhuman. But this was not God’s intent; this is not God’s idea. In fact when this worldview is held, God is mocked for he upholds the value, equality and dignity of women.

When God made Eve out of Adam’s rib, He had in mind two individuals who would complement each other and who would make a strong and dynamic team. For example, when a farmer puts two oxen together to work his fields, he doesn’t put two unequal animals together. The oxen are similar in size and strength so they will pull the plough evenly. They work together as equal partners of the team.

Some have questioned why Eve was not made of dust just like Adam, but if she had been, she would have been separate and second to the male. This is not what God had in mind. When he formed Eve from Adam’s rib, this meant as two halves of a whole, they were the same created being; thus equal. Because she was made of the same DNA, the same attributes as Adam she would strengthen and powerfully help Adam. And because God is perfect and his creation is perfect, she was as perfect a creation as Adam.

In the Hebrew language, the phrase ezer kenegdow means a powerful and extensive aid and support. Sometimes the phrase was used to depict military forces and in other places it was used for God’s deliverance from harm or attack. So this term is a strong and powerful term that was to define Eve. She was to be a strong and active helpmeet to Adam, someone who was not subordinate in any way, but would complement him. Eve’s different characteristics and attributes were designed to strengthen Adam’s weaknesses and his strengths would complement her weaknesses. It was to be a perfect fit as the bone joint in its socket. This was to be a relationship build on equality.

God’s thoughts and ways are much higher than man’s. God loves women with an everlasting, enduring love. He weeps when women suffer at the hands of those who are to cherish and protect us. He weeps when women are degraded systemically in the society in which they live.

Remember you are equal, made equal, made of the same stuff and you are loved by the Almighty.

The Temptress Eve; Made in the Image of God?

The term Eve teasing (commonly used in South Asian countries) says it all. Men see women as temptresses, following in the footsteps of their ‘mother’ Eve. Apparently we can’t help ourselves because as daughters of Eve, the first temptress, we carry her curse in our genes. But is this true? Are we inherently temptresses? Was Eve a temptress? The evidence points to the contrary. The evidence points to a God of Love who created male and female equal.

God made Eve. He created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them. Not only did God create Eve, but He created her in His own image.

What does that mean, that mankind, both male and female were made in God’s image? It doesn’t refer to a physical likeness but it refers to an intellectual likeness, a moral likeness and a social likeness. All these attributes were evident in both Adam and Eve. Adam didn’t get more of any of these likenesses than Eve. They were made equal.

That means that as daughters of Eve, we are given intellectual abilities just as Adam was. It means that we have minds that are capable of hearing and understanding God. We can respond to God in love and devotion and we also have the will to decide whether we will or will not worship God. As daughters of Eve we were given the ability to design, to create, to calculate, to reason, to think both concretely and abstractly. We were given the same intellectual powers as Adam.

That means that as daughters of Eve, we were made with a spirit, with God-consciousness. We are capable of communicating with Him, praying to Him, worshipping Him. We were made equal with Adam morally, without deviation.

That means that as daughters of Eve, we, like Adam, were created with the ability to love and to be loved. Not only were both of them made to enjoy a relationship with God but also with each other. God made both male and female in His image, without deviation.

To say women, unlike men, are innately deceivers or temptresses has no grounds. This comes from the highest authority; from God Himself. God created mankind, both male and female in His own image.

As daughters of Eve, we are loved and cherished by our Creator. Regardless of man might say, we must not believe the lie that we are somehow morally inferior to man. It simply is not true, A God who loves us doesn’t make anyone inferior.