Marriage... It's the BEST! And the worst.
But from God's perspective, there is no one that will refine you more than your spouse.
It's easy to go into marriage for the most part because a lot of times, we haven't seen the worst of our partner and we think they are great (even with certain tendencies) and can't wait to start our lives together.
Because we love them and they love us and we have a good time together, we have similar goals, aspirations, and hobbies, he's a good provider and has the funniest jokes, she's great with kids and super motivated... she knows what she wants!
And let's not forget to mention the SEX! Yeah... I said it... SEX (God created it... so He didn't blush just now).
If we are honest, this is the way we get lured into this amazing adventure we call marriage.
None of those things stick. None of those things are why a marriage will last. Not even love... because love ebbs and flows.
That's why lasting marriages are based on covenant rather than contract.
I don't think any of us stand in front of a Pastor, on our wedding day, thinking "This is going to be great... until it isn't and then I'm out! Divorce isn't that bad!"
If you've ever been through a divorce or you know someone that has... you know divorce is not a clean answer.
So, what IS a covenant marriage?
First of all, let's look at one of the greatest covenants of all time to gain greater understanding and that's the covenant God made with Israel.
God made promises to Abraham (the father if Israel), to increase his descendants to an uncountable number... he compared the number to grains of sand! He promised that He would be with them and that they would be His people and that He would never leave or abandon them.
If you know the story, you know from the get go, these people grumbled and complained... it was too much work to be "God's people". They would rather stay in captivity and be mistreated than to follow God with all of its boundaries and guidelines.
Then, they cheated on God... straight up. He told them not to worship anyone but Him... so of course they built a statue to worship...
He told them to obey Him and He would protect them. So they did everything He asked them not to do... and He removed His protection but the second they started crying... He gave them another chance... because He never left them. And then another chance. And then another. Repeat that last sentence a thousand times and you get the picture!
This story is convoluted and goes on for ever.
The point is... the Covenant was a binding agreement that could only be kept by God. You see, no matter what the Israelites did... the responsibility of keeping the agreement was solely on God. It didn't matter what the Israelites did... God was the one responsible to make it work.
Of course He had boundaries and there were consequences at every bad decision... but the Covenant was about belonging, that they would be His and that he would never leave them or forsake them.
He has that same Covenant with His people today... those that believe in Jesus Christ and allow Him to be their Lord and Savior.
The question is... how does this apply to marriage?
A covenant marriage is saying that we hold the same binding agreement that God made with the Israelites. We are making an agreement with our God and with our spouse that this is a life-long covenant and "no matter what you do, I will always fight for the marriage".
The agreement sticks, not because of your spouse but because of the agreement YOU made.
Your Covenant has nothing to do with your spouse but it has everything to do with you and your relationship with God as He sustains you through the worst trials and celebrates the greatest joys.
Again... this doesn't replace boundaries and consequences but it is the overarching thread that keeps the agreement resolute.
What about you? If you are married, what kind of marriage do you have, contractual or Covenant? If you want to be married someday, what kind of marriage do you want?
Here's the deal... in every marriage, there is at least one season where it's just too hard... only a Covenant kept can get you through that season.