Friday, September 14, 2012
Marriage: Covenant or Contract?
Some things are not meant to be broken. Marriage is one of them. Marriage cannot be defined in earthly terms because it was heavenly created. It is a sacred union created by God Himself for a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman. Some people view marriage as a contract with an “opt-out” plan if things do not go right. I heard that some countries, Mexico in particular, have even discussed a two-year marriage contract. If the marriage doesn’t work out after two years, you can walk away free and clear. Nothing says “I love you” to your spouse more than choosing the “opt-out plan” for marriage.
Marriage is a covenant relationship. It says I’m willing to surrender my rights and pick up my responsibilities. Covenant means I will stick with you no matter what. Remember these traditional vows: “for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part”? They have almost been replaced by “till something better comes along, only if I get something out of this, till the money runs out, and till I’m not happy anymore.”
Our spouses should be the top relationship in our lives. The home should not be child-centered. When you put marriage ahead of the kids it communicates to them the beautiful sacredness of the covenant relationship. A covenant marriage holds their spouse more than they do a golf club or hunting rifle. Your spouse should be your top priority. We learn priority from God, who we should seek first (Matthew 6:33). Another sign of covenant is giving yourself fully to your mate. 1 Corinthians 7:4 tells us about this mutuality. A covenant relationship also relinquishes its rights to privacy. Jesus said He did not hide His business from us because of covenant friendship (John 15:15).
Covenant people love unconditionally. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). If He can do that, surely you can love your mate through their mistakes (I’m sure you’ve had your share of them as well). Covenant people honor each other respectfully. 1 Peter 3:5-7 tells wives and husbands to show respect to one another. Covenant people submit mutually to one another. How can you misinterpret Ephesians 5:21, “submit to one another out of the reverence for Christ”? You submit to one another because you love the Lord, not because your spouse is perfect – they are not, but Jesus is!
Covenant people desire to settle conflict and not just to be right. Covenant people do not fight in their marriage – they fight for it! Covenant people do not flirt with other people in person or online because that is reserved only for their spouse and they know the damage it brings to marriage (Proverbs 6:27). Covenant people refuse to let pride get in the way and ask for help in their marriage when it gets tough (James 5:16). Covenant people engage one another and do not just come home from work, sit on the couch, watch TV for hours, disregard one another and the kids and then wonder why they are not growing closer. Satan doesn’t want us to hate our spouses – he just wants us to take them for granted. Yesterday’s romance must be stirred up for TODAY’S romance. Covenant people do not blame each other. “If they would/would not do this, then I would/would not do this.” Covenant people do not pray “God fix my spouse” more than they pray “God fix me.”
Covenant marriage is what Christ desires for your life. Great marriages do not just happen by accident. They take both people passionately and consistently pursuing Jesus to be successful.