It’s often overlooked but Marriage isn’t a contract, its a covenant. If you are considering “tying the knot” with the ‘hunk’ or the ‘babe’ then take a moment to ask yourself is this for ‘convenience’ or ‘covenant’? Many enter into marriage particularly based on ‘young love’ for ‘the benefits’.
The longer I’m married I realise the benefits are on the end of giving not taking. That's where the difference is from a contract to a covenant. In a contract the parties keep taking until there is nothing left to take and then they walk away. Think on any commercial contract, any business deal and the objective is for a ‘win-win’ where both parties take as much as they can as fast as they can for as long as they can. Once there is nothing left to take the contract is dissolved and each party goes out looking for new fields to conquer.
In covenant the parties give so that the agreement can last forever. In giving there is sustenance. In giving there is ebb and flow of strength and weakness. In giving there is hope beyond today. I am so grateful for a giving wife who has given in times of my weakness and loved when there was no love in return. Equally I am grateful for the love and appreciation I have for her where I can hold her, nurture her, encourage her and provide for her just because of who she is. Last night I lay in bed praying for her, thinking of 18years of marriage and how beautiful she is today.
Today we did some picture hanging that included some wedding photos. One framed piece is of our hands with our wedding rings and either side are printed our wedding vows from 1991. Cheryl had the photos and the vows made up for a surprise Wedding anniversary present for me a couple of years ago. I share them with you today because of their increased significance to me. Cheryl and I wrote our own vows and they continue to show our love, our faith and our commitment.
Cheryl, I love you for your beauty and wisdom. I want all our friends and relations to listen to these vows I make today. Before our loving God, family and friends I pledge: To love you in body, person and spirit,
To provide for a home that we build together
as a haven of love,
To hold you tight when you cry,
To hold you soft as together we lie,
And to hold you high as you try to be all you desire.
I pray that I will lead our home as Christ led the church. Not for power but to secure you each hour. So together we can grow and learn to love each other more.
Cheryl, encouraging and forgiving one another in love, help me see this marriage last forever. I give you this ring as a token of my love. Let it symbolise the circle of family and friends who supported us today.
Andrew, I love you more than words can ever express. On this very special day which will always be with us, I pledge in the presence of our loving Father in heaven, family & friends:
That I will always love you no matter what highs & lows we may go through.
I promise always to care for you & meet your needs as our Father in heaven does without fail.
I will always be your companion as well as your friend who you can always depend on in your times of distress & happiness.
I pray that the trust that has been accomplished between us will continue to grow as we travel down life’s narrow road, that our love will grow as we learn to give and take so we will overcome any difficulties.
I know with Christ in our hearts & standing with us at our side our marriage will last forever.
Therefore this ring I give you is a symbol of my love as it signifies love which is unconditional & eternal just as our Father’s love is for us.
Please forgive the hastily taken photos off my iPhone. They were a little out of focus from the photos in our Wedding Album. I wanted to put something up here in this blog that reminded me of the significance of the 23rd March 1991. I will get some better resolution photos up in the coming days.
Update: After posting this I thought of the scripture in Ephesians chapter 5.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The people at www.covenantmarriage.com have put together a few challenging and helpful descriptions of the identifiers of a covenant marriage relationship.
Elements of a Covenant Relationship
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. The degree in which these words have meaning comes in direct proportion to the unconditional love that dwells within our heart for the one to whom we are repeating them.
Covenant partners take responsibility for their actions. As partners in a covenant marriage relationship, we are responsible for our actions. An example would be to remain “sexually pure” in our thoughts and actions towards our spouse.
Covenants are based on freedom of choice. Covenant marriages are not built on coercion, deceit, and manipulation. Wives, submission is freely given and grows from respect, not fear and manipulation. In like manner, husband, choose daily to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” You must freely choose to love and honor her in spite of the fact that you may not “feel” like loving and honoring her.
Covenants are rooted in actions based on choices, not feelings. Our feelings are forever fluctuating. Therefore to build a covenant marriage on feelings is to build it on shifting sand, which cannot support the foundation of marriage.
Covenant partners nurture their relation-ship. 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. Covenant partners administer unconditional love, forgiveness, and reconciliation while providing comfort and hope to their partner.
Covenants are based on commitments freely offered A covenant is built on selfless love, freely given and freely received. As strange as it may sound, a covenant marriage is one in which the “tie that binds” the couple together is a commitment freely offered with no strings attached. Paul said it well: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).