Do you know what the problem with marriage is?
That is the question I got hit with last week, while shooting pool and watching the NBA finals with some friends of a friend. It seems that the word had gotten out that a guy that writes about marriage is coming over to watch the game. LOL. Geesh…
Although I was looking forward to just shooting some pool, hanging out, and making some new friends, the conversation quickly turned into a great discussion between six husbands about the validity and relevance of the marriage “contract”. The proposed problem was that as people have become more intelligent and informed the original “contract” and purpose of marriage has become outdated. The thought continued that if a husband and wife no longer get along they should be able to get out of the contract or at least re-write the rules. After all, it is the only contract that does not have an escape clause if things change…
As the argument progressed of how the marriage contract was flawed and marriage needs to be more flexible, I was quickly schooled that the other guy intently listening was a contract attorney. So now I am getting tag teamed by one guy that feels marriage is a flawed contract while his contract attorney friend is ready to pounce on my response. Talk about being set up…
Moving from Contract to Covenant
The fun part of the whole conversation was that I understood them and to a point agreed with them. It is true that marriage, when left to our own strength, is like rolling the dice, you don’t know what your getting or how things might change in the future. It is unfair, that you say I do, without knowing all of what your saying I do to. Those are realities of marriage, that most would relate to. Whether inside or outside of the church, marriage is an uncertain road. However, the balance to all those uncertainties and the map to a couple’s place of peace is Christ!
That was not what my new friend’s wanted to hear, but that really is the best, only hope for marriage. The flaw is not in the “contract” – if we should even call or consider our marriage’s to be a contract – rather, the flaw is in how a couple excludes the primary “party” in the contract. Beyond him and her that have been joined to be husband and wife is God which is the fullness of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And He is the one that has joined a couple together. If God is minimized, ignored or cut out of the relationship, then life’s inevitabilities becoming overwhelming realities.
See, for most couples, when we stood at the altar or wherever we got married, the minister said something to the effect of “…by the power of God, I now pronounce you husband and wife”, or during the vows the two of you said something about agreeing to “live together under God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony.”. The point is that in the ceremony of most weddings, God was in the discussion of the covenant. Perhaps, the challenge that many marriage’s face is similar to the belief that these husbands were presenting, that God is not really involved in marriage. Essentially, that the words and vow of our wedding day were only ceremonial words spoken but that really the only two people talking were the man and the woman. So although I did not leave that night having won a single game of pool I pray that that message hit home.
See, the “contract” or more accurately the covenant of marriage is powerful and uniquely relevant because of the parties involved. When we got married there was a husband, a wife and God who was both present and active. More than just words repeated, a husband and wife entered into a covenant with God. So if our marriage is running out of steam, when (not if) everything is different than we expected re-assess the covenant. Are we allowing God to fulfill his end of the agreement. Just as it would be in any business arrangement if one person on a business venture is not allowed to do their work, the deal falls apart. The three way marriage covenant states that as we live with each other under the power and presence of God, in all conditions, including for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health, than He will continue to provide strength to love each other through the changes of our married lives. Even a contract attorney can not argue that.
Please share, where have you seen the covenant between your marriage and God at work the best and most?