A covenant is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship.
A Covenant is not a “Contract”
Contract (n) an agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law.
Contracts are based on protection and mistrust. They allow the parties involved to look for loop holes and exist clauses, and are centered on your rights and protection. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say anything about “contracts” anywhere in scripture!
The term “covenant” means “a coming together.” In the Bible, the word covenant is translated in Hebrew over 300 times!
The meaning of the Old Testament word is bond; a covenant refers to two or more parties bound together. The New Testament term has usually been translated as covenant, but testimony and testament have also been used. The generally accepted idea of binding or establishing a bond between two parties carries with it the concept of “cleaving,” or sticking together like Super Glue!
Yet, covenants were not unique to God and His people. They existed besides the ones God initiated with His people. Covenants existed between families, tribes, clans, and brothers. But God brought a new element to the otherwise common practice of covenant making. God brought the Divine into the ordinary. He became the initiator of a covenant with His people, which reached far beyond the grasp of mankind.
Difference between a Contractual and Covenant Marriage
Contract: I take thee for me.
Covenant: I give myself to thee.
Contract: You had better do it!
Covenant: How may I serve you?
Contract: What do I get?
Covenant: What can I give?
Contract: I’ll meet you halfway.
Covenant: I’ll give you 100% plus.
Contract: I have to
Covenant: I want to
A covenant marriage is intended by God to be a lifelong relationship exemplifying unconditional love, reconciliation, sexual purity, and growth. A covenant is an eternal commitment with God. People can negotiate out of contracts, but not out of a covenant. The heart of covenant marriage is “the steadfast love of the Lord,” which comes from the very heart of God and “never ceases” (Lam. 3:22, RSV).
What Elements Make up a Covenant Marriage?
Covenants are the fruit of a loving, faithful relationship. The vows we exchange at our wedding reflect a relationship already bound by steadfast love and faithfulness. The degree in which these words have meaning comes in direct proportion to the unconditional love that dwells within our heart for the one to whom we are repeating them.
Covenant partners take responsibility for their actions. As partners in a covenant marriage relationship, we are responsible for our actions. An example would be to remain “sexually pure” in our thoughts and actions towards our spouse.
Covenants are based on freedom of choice. Covenant marriages are not built on coercion, deceit, and manipulation. Wives, submission is freely given and grows from respect, not fear and manipulation. In like manner, husband, choose daily to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” You must freely choose to love and honor her in spite of the fact that you may not “feel” like loving and honoring her.
Covenants are rooted in actions based on choices, not feelings. Our feelings are forever fluctuating. Therefore to build a covenant marriage on feelings is to build it on shifting sand, which cannot support the foundation of marriage.
Covenant partners nurture their relationship. Our marriage will grow as we build up one another in love. This takes place when we value our spouse more than ourselves. As we experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we are able to love our spouse as He loves us. Covenant partners administer unconditional love, forgiveness, and reconciliation while providing comfort and hope to their partner.
Covenants are based on commitments freely offered. A covenant is built on selfless love, freely given and freely received. As strange as it may sound, a covenant marriage is one in which the “tie that binds” the couple together is a commitment freely offered with no strings attached. Paul said it well: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Do you want a Covenant Marriage?
God does have a plan for your marriage. He desires to see your love grow and bear fruit. The goal of a covenant marriage is not to merely enjoy each other’s company nor is it to simply endure to the end. The goal of a covenant marriage is to glorify God in your relationship and to exemplify Christ to the world.