Small Group Questions

The Vow: The vow of partnership.   


Marriage has always been complicated; with each new generation, there seems to be new expectations or stipulations. Of course, many of the problems have remained the same. One of them is how to be partners in marriage. Marriage is a partnership: The roles of a man and woman are unique, but they’re also of equal value in God’s eyes. In a partnership, both spouses work together as a team, are united, serve each other, defer to one another, and have the same goals. In a true partnership, the couple will encourage each other, support one another, and keep the enthusiasm going even in trials of life. In this week’s message we learned how to build a partnership out of two people who in some cases may be polar opposites. 

Bottom Line: Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.

Something To Talk About:

I promise our marriage will be about “we” and not “me.” In marriage today, there can be a genuine sharing in nearly every aspect of life. This makes marriage itself a far richer experience than was possible. But within the partnership, the couple do different things, bring different skills and perspectives to the table, and shoulder different burdens in different ways. Consider these points in a marriage partnership. 

  1. A contract is based on mutual distrust: With a contract, if one agreeing party does something in violation of the contract then it is considered broken. The whole contract becomes null and void. Basically the signers of a contract agree to hold up their ends as long as the other signatories hold up theirs too. A contract is actually based on mutual distrust. In our minds all of our agreements are contingent on both parties holding up their ends. In other words, since I don’t know you well enough to take you at your word, I’m going to make you sign on a piece of paper to say you will live up to your part of the deal. A contract essentially says, “I’m in as far as you’re in. Since I don’t trust you fully, I’m going to have you sign this contract to prove your faithfulness, and if you’re not faithful, I have recourse against you.” 
  2. A covenant is based on mutual commitment: With a covenant, both parties agree to hold up their ends regardless of whether the other party keeps their part of the agreement. A violation of a covenant by one party doesn’t matter as far as the other party’s responsibility is to continue to do what they agreed to do.The Old Testament writers trace the relationship between God and the chosen people of Israel by speaking of the covenant he offers to them. “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19:5). A covenant is an agreement and a vow one person makes with another. In this sense, marriage is a covenant: it is entered into by the husband and the wife before God as a witness. A covenant is based on mutual commitment. We are both in 100% with every part of our being.
  3. Covenant partnership is summarized with Godly leadership and mutual submission: Most people do a double take when they come across Paul’s words in Ephesians 5. “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Some clarification is required, however. We need to remember that submission is mutual. In simple terms, mutual submission means “I’m going to leverage my resources, my time, my talent, etc. for your benefit.” Regardless of who we are or what role we have, this is God’s standard for relationships. So what is it all about and how do I go about doing that? Ephesians 5:21 gives us the answer: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Paul, in that context, is telling us, “out of reverence for Christ, open yourself up to help others.”  A covenant partnership is godly leadership and mutual submission. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your definition of a marriage partnership? What constitutes a true partnership? 
  2. What are your assumptions about your own role in the marriage and your own contribution to the relationship?
  3. Marriage is a covenant, not a contract: How would you describe the differences between the two?
  4. What perceptions or even misconceptions about submission did you have before hearing this sermon? Have you seen the concept of submission abused?
  5. How can the principle of submission apply to all of us in one way or another? Share with the group how practicing biblical submission will help in a particular relationship in your life.
  6. Is there a godly married couple you admire? What have you learned as you’ve observed their loyalty, friendship, love and submission?
  7. What was the most challenging portion of this message? What will you do about it?

Take One Thing Home With You:

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Genesis 2:24.

In this well-known passage it states that when we get married, we become one flesh. We all know the obvious definition for “becoming one flesh” but it’s so much more than just describing sex, becoming one with our spouse also means that we are living our two lives as one life. There is no “me,” it’s “we” in marriage. God unites two people for a reason. It’s no accident. He calls you to honor one another (Ephesians 5:22-33), and to love one another (I Corinthians 13). Pray that God will show you any attitudes and actions that could stand in the way of two people becoming one.