Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” – Matthew 19:4-6.

The above passage in Matthew 19 is very similar to Genesis 2:24: “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This requires a covenant between both of them. Mention that word to non-Christians and Christians and you may get a blank stare. We don’t use the word or concept of a covenant much anymore in Western society. We prefer the word contract. 

Ours is a contract-oriented society. Basically, a contract is an agreement between two or more persons signifying that all signing parties will do something. In a legal marriage, if one party doesn’t live up to the contracts, then legal actions force him or her to do so or to end the marriage with an equitable settlement. The problem arises when you view your marriage only as a contract or as a series of contracts. A contract marriage is where we’re committed to each other if this relationship is mutually beneficial. Contract marriages are an “If…, then…,” mentality. In other words, one spouse relies on the other spouse for happiness. Finally contracts are motivated by the desire to get something.

A covenant, like a contract, is an agreement between two or more persons, but the nature of the agreement is different. Covenants are the fruit of a loving, faithful relationship. The vows we exchange at our wedding reflect a relationship already bound by steadfast love and faithfulness. Covenant partners nurture their relationship. Our marriage will grow as we build up one another in love. This takes place when we value our spouse more than ourselves. As we experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we are able to love our spouse as He loves us. Some basic differences between a contract and covenant: 

Contract: I take you for me.
Covenant: I give myself to you.

Contract: You had better do it!
Covenant: How may I serve you?

Contract: What do I get?
Covenant: What can I give?

Contract: I’ll meet you halfway.
Covenant: I’ll give you 100% plus.

Contract: I have to.
Covenant: I want to.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does the marriage covenant mean to you as a Christian? How should we submit to God in that covenant?
  2. How can a marriage covenant with God help your marriage where a “contract” doesn’t?