One aspect of marriage that I hold to be vitally important but that has been lost in our culture is the concept of marriage as a covenant. Our western mindset and worldview far too often sees marriage as a legal contract and a business transaction. That has led to the establishment of prenuptial agreements and financial decisions in case the marriage doesn’t work out. In other words, before I commit to you the rest of my life I want to have an escape plan so that I don’t lose my stuff when someone I find more attractive comes along. We decide to fail before we ever begin.
The flip side of this trap is the idea that marriage is simply a tax shelter and if we are content to not declare one another as dependants then there is no reason to get married. Living together has replaced the marriage covenant because one person can simply move out without any obligation to the other. Instead of making lifelong commitments, we make business transactions.
When our view of marriage is one that defines marriage as a covenant, we establish that the only thing that will separate us is death. In a covenant in the biblical age, something had to die in order to seal that covenant. That led to the sacrifice of animals in worship as well as to seal business contracts. In our spiritual life, Jesus was the sacrifice so that we could live in a covenant relationship with God. That is why he said that he had come to establish a “new covenant.” (Luke 22:20). I contend that in order to have a biblical view of marriage we need to see it as a covenant relationship above anything else.
As you enter our house the first thing you see is a signed Marriage Covenant in a frame hanging on the wall. Alana and I both signed it and then our children signed it as witnesses. It is simply a piece of paper and has no legal value. However, it is a reminder that our marriage is not a business, but a relationship. It is a covenant. When things are tough, or we don’t agree, or stress has pushed us to the limit, the covenant we made to one another on our wedding day holds us together. I sometimes look at that frame and think about how important it is for me to live up to my end of the covenant so that my wife, my children, my family and most importantly my God will be honored.
How do you view your marriage? Is it a business? Is it convenience? Have you given yourself an escape route? If so, make a new covenant today that only death will separate you from the one you committed your life to love forever. Don’t settle for less than God’s perfect design of sacrificial covenant love.