Contracts. We make them all the time: lease a car, buy a house, rent a video – it’s not based on love. There’s no grace, no special exceptions “just because I like you.” It’s a business deal. Here’s what I’ll give and here’s what I expect in return or the deal is off.
Many contracts include a clause for an “Act of God.” One of my favorite acts of God isn’t an earthquake or hurricane. It’s a covenant, something vastly better than a man made contract.
When my daughters were little they learned in the First Catechism, “a covenant is a relationship God establishes with us and guarantees by His word.” God wants a love relationship with us that is binding for eternity. He picked Abraham out of all the people on earth, and created an eternal covenant with him and his descendants – that’s us! In Genesis 15, God guaranteed this covenant, not by Abraham’s performance or reliability, but by His own unbreakable word.
… the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel … So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. Malachi 2:14-16 (NIV)
God designed and defined marriage to be a covenant relationship, like His relationship with us. God doesn’t break faith with us and He doesn’t want us to break faith with our mates. God knew loving us would cost him everything, even the death of His son on the cross. He gave us a new, circumcised heart to empower us to love our mates and be faithful, like He is to His covenant promises. God wants the world to see in the covenant marriage of two believers, the same faithful, unconditional, powerful love He gives to His children.
The world defines marriage as a contract, not a covenant. After the first blush of romance and passion wear off in a marriage, you can see the cold heart of a contract. Easy to enter, easy to exit. This shift has produced a culture that no longer understands or values unconditional commitment and sacrifice for the good of another. For worse, in sickness, and for poorer have become escape clauses for when the burdens outweigh the blessings in marriage.
A few states, like Arizona, now offer a choice to engaged couples. They can choose a contract marriage which offers the convenience of “no-fault divorce” should things not work out or a covenant marriage, requiring premarital counseling and featuring restrictive measures to dissolving the union.
Just as with Adam and Eve in the garden, God offers us a choice too. To accept His truth of unconditional, covenant love, secure in His care for here and eternity with the gift of His Spirit to love others in His power. Or the illusion of fragile contract love, with its fear of the future that depends solely upon your and your mate’s fickle performance and flawed character. The choice is clear. Pick one.