The concept of “covenant” is important in our faith because of its role in our relationship with God. Examples of God’s covenant with his people abound in Scripture: God’s promise to Noah never again to destroy the earth comes to mind; God’s covenant with Abraham, to give him a son and many descendants, and to bless him, is another example.
Consequently, Christian families also thrive by having “covenant relationships.” This begins with marriage. However, in the secular realm, marriage has been reduced into something less than a covenant. Marriage has become something like a loose contract. It has a solemn-sounding promise, but also easy stipulations for getting out of that contract. In several states, marriage can be broken simply based on “irreconcilable differences.”
As Christians, our relationship with one another is based on “covenant.” This means that there are principles involved much greater than a simple contract implies. And this applies especially in the case of marriage. A few states have even enacted (non religious) laws that allow a couple to enter into a “covenant marriage.” For a Christian, this implies that a marriage is a solemn pact. Although there can be troubles along the way, but marriage is not an institution to be entered into easily, nor broken recklessly.
Scripture tells us that marriage is not just a bond between a man and a woman, but also a lifelong commitment to duty. Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). And to the wives, Paul said: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Eph 5:22). Marriage is a calling to mutual service and love, to live with respect and grace. God’s will is for marriage to be a “wonderful relationship” that reflects his love towards us.
A wonderful relationship cannot be easily broken. It is not a simple contract, but draws us together in every way. Paul’s excellent reflection on love states:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1Co 13:4-7)
He concludes this description of love by saying in the next verse: “Love never fails.” (1Co 13:8)
Covenant relationship gives us the opportunity to reconcile when there is discord. It recognizes that there can be anger and disagreement in families, but love always protects and gives hope. It is an encouragement for us to work on our marriages, and not abandon them. And it recognizes that marriage is a wonderful gift from God.