“Learning To Leave Your Parents!”
(Relating to them as an adult.)
God’s goal for marriage is a bond of love between husband and wife with the subsequent formulation of a new and independent family unit that stands accountable to God.
Satan’s desire is to destroy all of God’s purposes and designs.
This coupled with the waywardness of our flesh and the corruption of the world makes the marriage unit very susceptible to disruption, decay, and divorce.
Some of the leading causes of marital strife and discord are:
- Materialism, spending & financial differences.
- Differences in belief and devotion to God.
- Child rearing differences.
- Inadequate communication and relational skills.
- Sexual tensions.
- Not appreciating or understanding personality differences.
- Lack of awareness of love styles (attachment injuries) that make bonding difficult.
- Failure to differentiate from parents which leads to extended family conflict.
It is this last point, “parent, family, and in-law conflict,” which I will be addressing within this study.
While many books can be found on most of the major points, less is devoted to the issue of “leaving and cleaving” or learning to leave your parents and the gravitational field of their influence.
A key problem facing all married couples is the interference and or domination by parents or siblings upon the married couple and / or an excessive dependence by one or both of married couple upon their parents.
Furthermore, as we mature and watch our children leave the nest; many of us struggle with letting our own children leave the nest and engage in adult life.
If we don’t squarely face the need to grow up and differentiate from our parents, we will never grow into a mature adult who can speak as a peer to our parents as well as tolerate their disapproval should we choose a course that differs from their choices.
If we fail to individuate successfully from our parents, it will adversely affect the ability to bond with one’s spouse as well as become the family unit that God designed.
Key Biblical Text:
“Have you not read… For this cause man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.” “Consequently they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:5-6 & Genesis 2:24).”
The world “leave” carries the idea of “to depart or separate away from the influence of another.”
The word “cleave” means to glue, weld, or bond together.
Thus, Jesus Christ said that we need to leave our parents and cleave to our spouse.
This is the leaving of one family unit and the formulation of a new independent unit that is accountable to God directly (I Corinthians 11:1-3).
Both young adults and their parents need to learn to let their grown children move on to this new position before God.
The new relationship to parent then becomes an elective choice as an adult peer…learning to relate at the same level, with independence emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
If there is still a strong emotional dependency on either side, then there will be unhealthy discord as well as a failure to reach one’s highest potential as a human being as well as a servant of God.
As we address this area, then let each of us ask these questions:
- Have I learned to leave my parents and cleave to my spouse?
- Do I have a healthy adult relationship with my parents and family?
- Have I let go of my grown children?
In our study, we will see that learning to “leave” our parents as well as “cleave” to our spouses is both seen in the life of Christ with his own family as well as His teaching about family in His adult ministry.
JESUS’ CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND LEAVING OF HIS OWN FAMILY:
Much of Jesus’ childhood is not known because scripture does not expand upon that time of His life.
This passage however, deals with the child Jesus at the age of twelve in an incident that describes the embryonic stages of His leaving of His own family to pursue His independent adult ministry and mission.
He separates from his family’s travel caravan and stays in Jerusalem in the temple to discuss theology with the religious leaders.
Upon finally being discovered by a worried mother and father, he was rebuked for a three-day delay as well as worry on the parent’s part.
Jesus remarks, “Why is it that you were looking for me?
Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Here we see a sense of “destiny” in the young boy.
His statement, which implies a physical, emotional, and spiritual involvement in the affairs of His Heavenly Father, intimidated that His heavenly priorities superseded His earthly ones.
At that moment, His own family’s physical, and emotional comfort, and family structure was disrupted or set aside for His heavenly calling.
The balance of Christ’s development until age thirty is obscure and the only insight we have is that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”
Matt 3:13-17(cf. Luke 3:21-22):
At the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist as a grown adult, we see the pivot point in His life with respect to His breaking away from His family for the purpose of independent adult ministry.
At his baptism, the Heavenly Father speaks from heaven as the Holy Spirit comes upon Him and says,” Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.”
From this point on, Jesus carries Himself as a grown adult who then relates to His family on a voluntary bases on an adult level as a peer, not as a grown child who is bound to the family infrastructure of the preceding thirty years.
Luke 4:1-13 (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13):
After his baptism, He was compelled to go into the wilderness for forty days for the purpose of suffering, facing temptation, and fighting the forces of Satan.
This was a solo event without the aid or support of the family.
He learned a healthy “independent dependency” upon God, which in fact could not have been learned with the interferences from family member’s actions, feelings, or opinions.
Thus, we see the evolution of the healthy movement away from family influence, taking place in the life of Christ for the sake of godly personal growth.
At the wedding at Cana, we see this “new” adult Jesus for the first time again with His family.
We see a different way of relating to His mother than he had probably related in the past.
When the host ran out of wine, Jesus’ mother approached Him and said, “They have no wine,” Jesus responded, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.”
Mary, trying to help her friends in an uncomfortable situation, goes to her oldest Son (Joseph is probably dead at this time) to ask for help for the Wedding Host.
She puts the mundane, yet important problem before Jesus, with the expectation that He would do something for her upon her request.
He ultimately does comply with her desires, yet it is not done until he establishes two very important conditions.
First, He made it clear that He was an independent adult in his reference to her as “woman,” which was a term that an adult male would employ toward any other woman which he might address(cf. John 4:21).
Secondly, he made it clear that He was dedicated to a separate and distinct “life agenda” than His mother as evidenced by his comment, “What do I have to do with you, My hour has not yet come.”
This phrase “My hour” refers to the pinnacle of His earthly ministry upon which he had just previously embarked, as which point he would accomplish God’s divine redemptive plan for all of mankind.
He was making it clear that nothing was going to dissuade Him from the urgency and primacy of “that” task, even at the expense of an embarrassed wedding host.
Once establishing these two basic conditions, He then voluntarily complies with her request and performs His first miracle.
…to be continued.
Blessings, Milan and Kay