Marriage, A Covenant Relationship

The Lord wasn’t pleased with the false worship of his covenant people in the Old Testament and He explains why: “You ask ‘Why?’ It is because 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” (Malachi 2:14-16).

Divorcees hate divorce as well. Nobody feels good when they fail to keep their commitments. Marriage is like gluing two pieces of paper together. Any attempt to separate them leaves both sheets damaged as well as the children of divorce. Adam and Eve were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with their offspring. God is seeking godly offspring that comes from a marriage between a man and woman who honor Him.

There are only two covenant relationships in this present age. Both are based on God’s Word and rooted in His character. The first and foremost is our New Covenant relationship with God. The second is the marriage between a man and a woman. All other meaningful relationships are contractual or mutually convenient. Two people can have a covenant relationship with God, and consequently have fellowship or spiritual kinship one with the other. But they don’t have a covenant relationship with each other unless they are married. Contracts are drafted to protect all parties in case one should default. Innocent parties can seek legal action for a breach of contract. Marriage is not a contract that permits one to leave when the other doesn’t fulfill their expectations.

A covenant is a promise to fulfill irrespective of the other person and made to last regardless of circumstances. Wedding vows are a covenant commitment to stay faithful as a husband or wife, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death separates the two. What makes a marriage relationship unique is commitment. What makes a marriage relationship great is love, understanding, and forgiveness. In marriage, a man and wife become one in Christ and together they help each other conform to His image.

In Matthew 19:3-12 the Lord admonishes the Pharisees who had lost their commitment to stay married. They didn’t want to commit adultery since that was a capital offense under the law, so they were divorcing their wives for any little reason (See also Matthew 5:31-32). They were actually proliferating adultery since they had no biblical grounds for divorce. Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (vs. 9).

Dr. Neil

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