Marriage is a Holy Covenant, not a Contract

By Chip Ingram

Is your marriage, or the marriage of someone you know, in trouble? Perhaps you’ve been thinking of throwing in the towel and leaving your spouse. Maybe you’ve often said, “If only he or she would shape up and start doing this, this and this…then our marriage would be better.” And then, when nothing changes you feel like giving up.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re certainly not alone. For many of us in America, our marriages are crumbling. And as Christians, we’re not exempt from this trend. The percentage of divorce is increasing at the same rate among Christians and non-Christians alike.

But there is hope! There is a way to have a rewarding and close marriage with your spouse. How? First we need to draw near to God and desire to get to know Him. Second, we need to follow His blueprint for marriage.

Marriage was God’s idea. In fact, He designed it. And as the designer, He knows exactly what our marriages need in order for them to thrive.  His ultimate goal for marriage is for husbands and wives to have oneness expressed in a relationship bound together by a Holy Covenant.

For many of us, we understand marriage to be a “contract,” which can be easily broken.  When we made our vows to our spouse at our wedding and said, “until death do us part,” what we really meant was, “… until I feel like giving up and getting out.”

In contrast, God’s design for marriage was for it to be a holy covenant.

For what reason? Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. (Malachi 2:14)

A covenant is an agreement and a vow one person makes with another. And not just any agreement… this is a solemn vow before God. We need to realize that the consequences of breaking a covenant we made before God are very serious and sobering (Proverbs 6:20-29). Once we understand this, then we realize that leaving the marriage is not an easy option for us.

When you make a vow to God do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

The interesting thing is that when we accept that divorce is not an option (in the majority of cases) and we know there is nowhere to go… our view of marriage completely changes. Knowing we can’t get out is the key to our marriages being transformed. Why? Because it’s then that we really commit to working on our marriages by following God’s blueprint for our marriages.

The reason I am married today is because I made a covenant. Not because I felt like staying in it – multiple times.  Therefore, the only solution for me was to start asking, “What can we do to fix this? What kind of help do we need?” As a result of having this kind of mindsetmy wife, Teresa, and I made our marriage the number one priority apart from our relationship with God. And we worked very, very hard on it.

If you’ve had thoughts of breaking your marriage covenant, I’d like encourage you right now to choose to stay in your marriage. Tell God you’re sorry and then, in your heart of hearts, just recommit. Don’t worry about what your spouse does or doesn’t do. Second, I encourage you to pray for your marriage. God longs to help you! He is for you, not against you.

This week, we’re starting the series House or Home? Marriage Edition. In it, we will go on a journey together to explore God’s design for marriage and the roles of husband and wife. It’s my prayer that this information will give hope for couples that long for unity and fulfillment in their marriage. And I am confident that during this time God is going to do something great in us and through us.

Keep Pressin’ Ahead,

Chip's Signature
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge

Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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