by Kendal Rasnake
FEBRUARY 5, 2014

Cleave Unto Each Other: What Does That Include?

Man and Woman Holding Hands

“Cleave” is a funny word.  It can mean two different things that are practically the opposite.  You can cleave a piece of wood which essentially breaks it apart.  Or you can cleave unto another being which essentially pulls you together.

There are a bunch of uses of the word “cleave” in the Bible, and generally it seems the 2nd definition is being discussed.  This is true in regard to marriage as well.  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)  God means that when a man and woman become husband and wife they must cleave to each other.  Even though the verse only mentions the husband as the one doing the cleaving, the latter part of the verse indicates that it is to be mutual.  The word “one” here is translated from a Hebrew word that means “united.”   The husband is to cleave to the wife, and the wife is to cleave to the husband and thus they are to be united.  We could not have unity if one or the other were pulling in an opposite direction.

But what would the idea of “cleaving” really mean to me in my day-to-day marriage?  God told us to cleave to each other but what does that include?

  • Hold On Tightly – Grab your marriage tightly and try the hardest you possibly can to never let go or never give up.  Nut On Rusty BoltThink of the strongest glue possible binding two pieces of wood together, or the nut so fixed on the bolt that it will not turn to come off.  They are so tightly bound that the world can pull on them and bang on them and beat them, but they never separate.  Never let the words “divorce” or “quit” even be part of your vocabulary.  Tell your spouse, “I’m in it to the end!” and mean it!  How reassuring it is to a spouse to know that no matter what arguments or trials in life may come, and no matter how mad we may get at each other, eventually we will calm down and cleave together because we are both committed to loving one another and we have told each other so!  
  • Submit To One Another – Ephesians 5:21-25 states, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”  We are to submit to each other and that’s what love is.  Love is putting others first and yourself last.  Say to yourself, “I am here to cleave to and serve my spouse, not to serve myself.”
  • Cleave To God – The Bible has several verses where people are told to cleave to Him.  (Deuteronomy 10:20, 11:22; Joshua 22:5, 23:8; Acts 11:23)  We will never be the best husbands or wives we can be if we are not cleaving to God and building ourselves up as Christians.  Let His word be the final say.  Let His priorities be the family’s priorities.  Let His role for you in the marriage be your role.  Let communication to Him and study of His word be practiced.  Draw closer to each other as you draw closer to God.

We invite you to use the resources of Truth For The World to enhance your growth as a Christian and your marriage, including our several TV programs on marriage in our series Words To Live By: Home and Family.  They can be viewed on our website here: