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To Leave And Cleave

By bro Lee Tian Seng

Don’t let your in-laws be outlaws! Not everyone has a good and harmonious relationship with his or her parents-in-law, but that is not to say that it is impossible. The Bible tells us about the close relationship that Ruth had with her mother-in-law, Naomi. After her husband’s death, Ruth chose not to leave her mother-in-law, but continue to respect and serve her.

Ruth 1:16 - But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

There is much wisdom in the Word of God concerning a married couple’s relationship with their parents.

Firstly, the man is to leave his parents and be joined (or “shall cleave”, as in KJV) to his wife, and both become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 - Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This would apply to the woman as well, for she too needs to “cut the apron string”, as both husband and wife start a new family.

There is no reason for parents to interfere with their children’s marriage in an intrusive and overbearing way. Children are commanded to submit to their parents, but when they are married, the focus of the relationship is on the new family. On the other hand, husband and wife should not allow their parents to interfere and make decisions for their family. This will avoid conflicts in the marriage relationship.

Secondly, the Bible also teaches us that, in the new family, the wife should submit to her husband and not to her parents or her parents-in-law. The husband should be the head and leader of the family, not his parents or his parents-in-law.

Ephesians 5:22-23 - Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

The husband is to love and protect his wife and family, and the wife is to support her husband and care for her family.

Ephesians 5:28-29 - So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church

If both of them play their roles and submit to God, every need and care in the family will be taken care of.

Matthew 6:33 - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God has shown us how the structure and relationship of the family should be. When we follow His teaching, we avoid having our parents causing conflicts in our marriage as the boundary is clear. There will be better understanding and respect between you and your in-laws. This allows both the husband and wife to establish their goals for their family and decide how these goals are to be accomplished in the Lord.

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