BabyFruit Ticker

Monday, June 22, 2009

Covenants and Contracts

This weekend I had the honor of standing beside one of my best friends as she became a Mrs. and entered into the Holy covenant of marriage. I have had the opportunity to do this for several friends lately (and have a few more to come soon!), but each time, I am moved by the tangible presence of God in that moment when two followers of Christ join their lives together to walk as one for His purpose.

In this ceremony, the minister made the comment that marriage is not about “being in love,” although that emotion is present, it is a covenant between a man, woman and God to stand beside each other through whatever path the Lord lays out and to respect, serve, and challenge each other along that path. This is not the first time I’ve heard the message of the marriage covenant spoken but I think it’s something that cannot be said enough in the church.

Statistics state that between 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Among the Christian community (defined as evangelical Christians who attend church regularly), the statistics are not much better. Between 25-35% of Christian marriages end in divorce.

I am so thankful to be a part of a church body that emphasizes the true covenant of marriage as it is outlined in scripture. Most of our pre-marital materials revolved around understanding that my spouse’s job is not to meet my needs, expectations, or general wants and desires. In fact, our marriage is in no way about me. It is about learning, growing and understanding Christ’s love and sacrifice for his church through a model of selfless love. I am called to love William whether or not I feel like he is meeting my needs. My call is to serve him, to encourage him, to challenge him to grow deeper in his relationship with Christ and he is to do the same for me.

One of the best illustrations I’ve heard on the topic came from a John Piper sermon that we listened to during counseling. It was titled Covenant vs. Contract and outlined the differences in the two ideas. He said most people enter into marriage on contractual terms. As long as you hold up your end of the deal, I’ll hold up mine. They have their clauses built in to protect themselves if the other person breaches the terms that were outlined in the dating and engagement stage. There is always an out if things don’t end up like you thought they would. The covenant is entered into under the acknowledgement that regardless of the other person’s failings, I’ll hold up my end of the deal. The Biblical example of this is Christ and the cross. He gave his life for me, knowing that I was a sinner, and that I would constantly fail Him.

One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp as a female is that my marriage is not based on emotions. There will be times I don’t feel in love, but I made a covenant with God to stay with William, regardless of fluctuations in my feelings. There will be times I feel like he’s not meeting my needs, and in those times, my call is to examine my heart and realize that all I need is the Lord, the love I share with my spouse is just a bonus and blessing for this life. He cannot be all that I need, he is a sinner living in a fallen world, as am I, but I am so glad to be walking along side him through this journey and learning more and more from him each day.

Praise God for the gift of marriage and for my wonderful friends and family who offer constant reminders of the beautiful covenant William and I have been called to.

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