Marriage is a Covenant, and a Confession that was designed by God from the beginning of time.
God invented marriage at the very beginning of the Bible. In Genesis chapter 2 God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper.” It’s important to note that God didn’t create ten women for Adam to choose from. God created one woman and in the process created marriage. From that first couple God intended marriage to be a Covenant and not a Contract.
A contract is spelled, “I F.” In a contract we have two parties, we have stipulations or requirements and we have benefits:
- If you will do this I will do this;
- I will do that when you do that;
A contract is conditional and is dissolved when one party breaks it but a covenant is not conditional on the behaviours of the parties involved; it is based on their character.
In the marriage covenant a husband should love his wife forever, not because of what she does but because of who he is. It shouldn’t even matter what she does at all, he should love her and cherish her forever because he is faithful in love and not because she is faithful in behaviour. Likewise, a wife should love her husband because of who she is, whether he deserves it or not.
Well wouldn’t that be just ducky if that worked? Like my Grandpa Walker used to say, “When ifs and buts are berries and nuts we’ll all have a Merry Christmas!” There are usually just two problems with your typical marriage: the husband and the wife. In a typical marriage both parties injure and wound each other and test each other’s patience at the best of times. Don’t worry though, there is hope.
Marriage is also a confession. It is a confession of faith in the One that made marriage in the first place. God created marriage to be a reflection of the love that God shares with believers through Jesus Christ. Just like in the covenant of marriage, God loves us because of who God is, not because of what we do. He loves us and creates the fellowship that all believers share and He is faithful to this union no matter what I do.
I cannot be good enough to enjoy a relationship with God. Period. Even when I am doing good and holding up my end of the covenant I get proud of myself and my accomplishments and ‘Bam!’ I mess it up anyway. Pride is a sin (it’s what got Satan kicked out of heaven!) and if it isn’t the bad things that I am doing that mess up my relationship with God then the good things I fail to do will mess it up; Sins of Omission and sins of Commission. I cannot live life well enough to have a relationship with God and life doesn’t make sense without God in it.
The ‘Good News’ is that when I became a Christian I accepted Jesus’ offer to be faithful for me. Part of what Jesus did when he came to earth is He lived a life in perfect submission to God. He was perfectly submitted to God and Jesus then took the punishment for all the wrong I did. Jesus takes the blame for all my junk and He gives me His clean record. I am released from trying to be good enough to enjoy fellowship with God and I trust Jesus to fulfill what was lacking on my behalf.
The covenant relationship then is complete. God is faithful, and Jesus (in my place) is faithful. God is faithful on both sides of the relationship. Praise God for that. So what does this have to do with marriage?
A believer in Jesus Christ enters the covenant of marriage not conditional on how the other person behaves, not even on their own character, but instead based on the character of Jesus Christ. Because of who Jesus is, you will forgive each other even when they don’t deserve it. You will forgive each other when you are sick and tired of each others; when you don’t think you can stand it anymore. You will depend on Jesus to provide the patience it takes to make this marriage continue to work.
Too many marriages are made like contracts and include unwritten penalty clauses. When I am betrayed or offended by my spouse I will, directly or indirectly exact a punishment on them. I cut them off when they are talking or I refuse to reach out to them. I may yell at them or be short with them. In too many marriages, the husband and wife crucify one other for each other’s sins. Please don’t do that. In every marriage someone is going to get crucified and it will either be Jesus or it will be one of you.
Jesus has already absorbed the punishment for every thing you will ever do to injure your spouse. The price has been paid and because of who Jesus is, and His character, you can forgive, and grow and forgive and grow. You can live a love that will inspire your sons and daughters so that when they are old enough to consider marriage they won’t settle for a love that is anything less. Not because you are a great spouse, but because Jesus is a great Saviour and He has provided you with everything to make your marriage beautiful.