Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
When a minister performs a wedding, he’ll frequently refer to the couple entering into “the covenant of marriage.” Yet many people treat marriage more like a contract than a covenant.
At its heart, a covenant is based upon a promise. In marriage, the husband promises to “hold fast” to his wife, forsaking all others in doing so. In return, the wife makes the same promise. “Hold fast” comes from a Hebrew word which means “to cling, cleave, or keep close.” It was used to describe the way skin clung to bone, the way a tongue sticks to the roof of a mouth due to thirst, or the way a fish’s scales interlocked with one another. That’s man’s covenant to his wife, and her covenant to him.
A contract, on the other hand, is much different than a covenant. In a contract, both parties agree to many terms. Instead of promise language, a contract is filled with terms of performance. As long as one party performs according to the terms of the agreement, the other party reciprocates. It’s payment for services rendered; but that payment stops the moment the service falls below the set standards.
Sadly, far too many marriages quickly fall from covenants to contracts, from promises to performance. And when the performance is perceived to fall below the expectation, one party soon becomes unhappy and looks for a way out. The initial “contract” will be broken and a new one entered into in hopes of better service.
Take some time today and evaluate your marriage. Is it more of a contract or a covenant? Any changes you need to make? –Dave
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