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I want to make a very true statement and unpack it for you and that is this, “We need to recognize that marriage is a covenant not a contract”. People today all over the world will treat it as a contract. It is a piece of paper, it is a legal agreement, and it is so much more than that.
You can see a great picture of this in the Old Testament in the Book of Malachi when the people are whining, “God, why won’t you answer our prayers”? We are praying, where are you? And God is basically going to say, “Men, you have been unfaithful to your wives and therefore I am not answering your prayers”. You can read it all if you want to get the context. Malachi 2:14 says, “Why aren’t you answering our prayers”? Well, here’s why; because you have broken faith with her, your wife, though she is your partner and the wife of your marriage covenant,” not marriage contract, but marriage covenant.
What is the difference? A contract is based on mutual distrust. It is I am in as far as you are in. If you do me wrong I can get out. When it comes to rental properties there always is a contract with the one renting. That is, if you don’t pay you don’t stay. It is protecting the owner from the tenant because he doesn’t trust them to do the right thing. But the contract also has a flip side, if the owner doesn’t deliver then the tenant could get out and that is the way a lot of people treat marriage. Well, it is just a contract. If you do what I want we will stay in, if you don’t I won’t. Someone breaks the contract, it is over.
A covenant though is different. A covenant is based on mutual commitment. It is an unending, totally binding commitment and it can be maintained by one person. You may break this but I am not going to break my covenant vows before God. In other words, I’m all in, every bit of me, totally in, completely, 100%. There is no back door. I am giving my covenant vows not before the State I live in but before the God of Heaven, that for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health I commit to you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is a totally binding, all in, no back door, covenant vow to God. Divorce is not even an option. It is not a word in our vocabulary when it comes to our marriage.
I like what the late Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham world-wide evangelist, one time a reporters were interviewing her and they said Ruth, have you ever thought about divorcing your husband Billy? She said, “Never one day in my life have I thought about divorcing him. I thought about murdering him on many occasions but never ever divorce.” You see, divorce is not an option, not ever. It is not something we are going to do, why? Covenant!
Now, let me just say this with all the compassion I can. For those of you who have been divorced, my purpose is not to heap condemnation on you because I know the pain that you felt and I know many of you didn’t want that. I know some of you made mistakes and if you could go back you would do it different. I am not trying to stir up pain or make anybody feel guilty, what I want to do is, I want to talk from this point forward and that is this; if you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, when you get married, you stand before God and you make a promise to God and you enter into a covenant and the two become one. It is not about me, you are not meeting my needs. But, what about me? No, no, no, it is about we serving He; as one together we serve as covenant partners in Christ.