Covenant is a weird word that is used in church when we talk about the relationship of a husband and wife. If there was a more modern word that meant the same thing I would say that we should use that instead…but there isn’t.
Since there isn’t a better word, we should do a better job helping people understand what a covenant is – because most of the time we define it simply as a promise.
But it is more than a promise.
Friendship is a personal relationship, so is marriage. But marriage is more of a legal relationship than a friendship. Doctor/patient is a legal relationship, so is marriage. But marriage is more personal.
That’s a covenant – a stunning been of law and love.
The problem with fully understanding this that most of our relationships are consumer relationships – even many of our legal relationships. The motto of consumer relationships is: I will be what I should be to you as long as you are what you should be to me.
My relationship with AT&T Wireless is an example of a consumer relationship. Our contract made it a legal one and our 17 years together made it a little personal. Before they were AT&T they were Cingular and before that they were AT&T wireless…we were together that long.
And all along the way they provided stellar service. The price went up, but it stayed affordable for us. Over time though our needs changed – we needed a data plan as well. Their plan worked for me for a while but eventually it no longer worked for me wife.
That’s when we looked to Sprint. It was cheaper and better suited our needs. Clearly they were no longer what they should be for me. Then Sprint introduced the cut your rate in half plan and we jumped. AT&T was no longer what they should be for me so I was not going to be what they needed me to be (a paying customer).
But a covenant motto is different: I will be what I should be to you, even if you are not what you should be for me.
That is why, when you read about the relationship between a husband and wife in the Bible (In Ephesians 5 and elsewhere) there is no if/then statements – it’s based on covenant. If/then is more consumer.
I for one and thankful that my wife is for me what I need her to be – even when I am not being what she needs. Marriage is truly a blessing when you live in a relationship like that.