The teaching of Christ was both direct and simple. “Have ye not read, that he that made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, FOR THIS CAUSE shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-6).
I grew up in a family where marriage occupied the center of our life. Parents were the focus of our universe. We were the add on’s to the family, and one by one we began the complex journey of growing up. As male and female, husband and wife, they formed the beginning family. As husband and wife, they were just as much a family as when the last of seven children were born. One by one we joined the others circulating around the basic authority and example of our parents. I was the last to be added to the totem pole.
There was a time in America, where the husband/wife relationship was stronger than the parent/child relationship. It was designed that way in the beginning and should be that way today. They ruled the roost and left us an example to follow and a standard to be imitated.
Mother and dad did not marry their children. They were married to each other and this primary union was only enhanced with the addition of children. Their relationship was primary and the addition of children only enhanced it. Nothing makes a child more insecure than the feelings that their parent’s relationship is shaky and that it might fall apart or come undone at any moment. It stands to reason that the opposite is true. Nothing makes a child feel more secure, than knowing his parents relationship is strong enough, to endure any hardship or disagreement.
When children know that “divorce is not an option” and that marriage is permanent, it secures the process and it paves the way for their own maturity and escape. In time they will feel free to “leave mother and father” and begin their own home and family. This is why the apostle Paul wrote, “To avoid fornication (illicit sex), let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband (I Corinthians 7:2).
When the husband and wife have this unconditional love, it is the greatest gift by far that they can give to their children. But when children are put in the middle of the family circle and their parents begin to rotate around them, the feeling of security is compromised and understanding true relationships becomes confusing.
The greatest gift is not the keys to a new car, or a prepaid title to a condominium, but the knowledge that they can, in time, begin their own home and feel free to come and visit (not to live) their mom and dad in the old homestead. Thus the ‘oneness’ of the family continues.
The attitude has been promoted in this generation that good parents are those create the attitude with children of “we want you to like us!” Our mother and dad never did care whether we liked them. We were going to honor them, respect them and love them. They knew the difference in the words of honor, respect and love, and in the word “like”. They never hesitated to use the word “NO”. The modern attitude today is that the more you can do for your children, the more you can say “yes” to their desires, and the more attention you can give them, the better parents you will be. Somehow, we have lost the distinction between parenting and being friends. Good parenting is friendship but all friendship is not good parenting. The fact that they got here first and we were the add-on’s gives the husband-wife relationship primacy and a come-first order of life.
I was the last of our family to marry. We came by the following morning to say our goodbyes. We owned a ’29 worn out four/door Ford and in it, on it and around it, were everything we would begin our life together with. When hugs and kisses melted away, we started toward the car. I hesitated to look back and said to Ann, “You look back and tell me what you see”. She whispered under her breath, “I see your mother and dad, standing in the thresh hold of their house with tears flowing down their cheeks”. I said, “They started it and they finished it!”
Children are born into the home, not to stay permanently, but just for a while to prepare themselves to leave. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh”.
“For this cause” should be fresh and foremost in our minds.