What does the Bible teach about a woman leaving her family and church to follow the man to whom she is engaged to marry?
While this question is not explicitly asked and answered in scripture, there are principles clearly spelled out in the Bible that leave no doubt as to God’s will in this matter.
First of all, the Bible teaches that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
This does not mean that every man who gets married has to move away to another city. Rather, it means that he should leave his parents’ home and build his own home – i.e., buy or rent his own house, pay his own bills, support his wife and any children with which they may be blessed.
Next, the Bible teaches that the man is the head of the woman.
1 Corinthians 11:3
But I would have you know,
that the head of every man is Christ;
and the head of the woman is the man;
and the head of Christ is God.
The divine order that God has stipulated for every marriage and every home is that the MAN should be the HEAD OF or HAVE AUTHORITY OVER the WOMAN.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
It is clear from these passages that the wife has a biblical mandate to be in subjection to the husband.
When a man and a woman who attend different churches become engaged to be married, the woman must leave her church and home and move to the man’s church to begin a new life together with him in their new home.
We see a clear biblical example of this expressed allegorically in the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24.
1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.
2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
3 And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
7 The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.
8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:
38 But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.
39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.
40 And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house:
41 Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath.
51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken.
56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.
58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.
59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.
61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
It is abundantly clear from this beautiful story that Rebekah’s suitability as a wife for Isaac was contingent upon her willingness to leave her home and family and go to live with Isaac.
A marriage that begins with the wife leading her husband and dictating where their home will be and what church they will attend is destined for trouble. A home can never be greater than its foundation. If the foundation of the home is out of order then there is little hope that the home will ever fully be in order.
A husband who meekly submits to his wife cannot be considered much of a man. This is a perversion of the divine order and as such will surely incur divine wrath and judgment instead of divine favor and blessings.
It should be noted that there are occasions where, due to exigent circumstances, exceptions may be made to this rule at the discretion of the pastors of both churches involved.
Pastor Tim D. Cormier