Introduction into the Marriage Covenant
Like all of God’s important contracts with mankind, e.g. the Adamic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New Covenant, the Marriage Covenant is another biblically based contract between God and man. This time it is a tripartitecontract or covenant because it is between God and a man and a woman and this three-way tie that binds is not easily broken, Ecc. 4:12.
The Bible clearly gives us instructions about our personal interactions with one another. When it comes to the marriage covenant, the “model” is the loving relationship between the Bridegroom who is Messiah Jesus, and the Bride who is the body of believers, the Church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:25-33
You might ask, “Why all the emphasis on the husband loving his wife?” That is a legitimate question and the answer is very important. First and foremost, this instruction is the ideal. It is the goal and cannot be achieved without divine intervention and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It is He who is the Creator of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit and that is love (agape).
Secondly, God has established a “chain of command” is the nuclear family. It goes from Him to the Father to the Mother and they, in concert and communion with the Lord, raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Finally, a woman who is born of God’s Holy Spirit will always respond well to a man who is loving her with God’s love. That man will be loving God first (you cannot truly love others (God’s agape love) without having this love relationship with God as your primary source for security and significance and then that agape love will be demonstrated consistently, not perfectly, all the time, but regularly to his wife and she will respond by respecting him.
The Biblical Model: What it is and Why it Works so Well
What it is:
The Biblical model for marriage is “mutual submission, one to another in reverence of Messiah.”
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the
Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Eph. 5:15-21
Why it works so well:
Everyone is looking to get certain needs for security and significance met. This search for significance often leads us into unhealthy relationships with people, places and things. That is because only God can be the primary source for our security (love) and significance (meaning and purpose that transcends our temporal reality, something that will last).
It is when we come to understand that the main essential and foundational reason for entering into the Marital Covenant is a commitment to minister to our spouse. It is not an earthly contract; it is a heavenly contract between a man, a woman and their Creator. He is the tie that binds, He is the foundation upon which each person in the Marital Covenant must stand and look to as their primary source for security (love) and significance (meaning and purpose)
This model causes us to look to God personally, for our primary, personal security (love) and significance (meaning and purpose). The decisions made in the marriage are always a two-way street. Large, important decisions should be prayed upon, discussed, and only when there is agreement, do you go forward.
If there is a time constraint, and a decision must be made and you have prayed and sought biblically wise counsel on the matter, then the husband’s decision must stand and the wife is to submit to her husband’s decisions as “unto the Lord.” God will always honor this.
OUR PRIMARY NEEDS FOR SECURITY
OUR SECONDARY NEEDS FOR SECURITY
(GOD THROUGH US)
TO ONE ANOTHER
John13:34 | I Peter 1:22
So, we have our model for a healthy marital covenant. With this in mind, we are going to look to the Lord to help us to begin to build the foundation for our marriage. There are reasonable and unreasonable expectations for the marriage. We need to look at our own and discuss them to see how the Lord will use them in our ministry to one another.
Use the Attached paper to create your list of reasonable expectations. What each of you expects from the other in this marriage. Be honest, be specific and be reasonable.
His Needs, Her Needs
In a marital covenant we have two people who are entering into a contract with their Creator. It is clearly based upon the relationship that the Messiah, the Bridegroom, has with His Bride, the body of believers, e.g. Jews and Gentiles that have been made one in Christ.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Eph. 5:31-32
All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Because of the Fall, Gen. 3, all of mankind became fear-based. Adam was originally created in perfect communion with God. He was completely innocent and without sin. When Adam disobeyed, sin (unbelief) replaced the foundation of faith in his life. This infection (sin is a the source of all disease and death) was transmitted to all human beings because of Adam’s disobedience. Even the creation itself was tainted with the curse of sin and death, Rom. 8:21-23.
To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Because our primary source for security and significance is supposed to be God and because we spend a great deal of time living without Him in our lives, we can easily fall back into the habit of manipulating people, places, and things in order to get our needs for security (love) and significance (meaning and purpose) met.
Another factor that is directly related to the Fall is the curse that was fell upon women specifically. This part of the curse enlightens us to the reason that women, even from their youth, are focused on family dynamics. They play “house” while their male counterparts are usually playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. That is until it became politically incorrect to recount the conflict between the European invaders and the indigenous peoples of North America and the gangsters became the heroes and the police became the bad guys.
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Gen. 3:16
What exactly does this curse imply? It implies that co-dependency will be a large part of the dynamic of the fallen world. Today co-dependant love songs permeate the airwaves. “I love you, I need you, I can’t live without you,” become the on-going themes of romantic bliss.
Romance isn’t bad or wrong. God invented romance. It is the feelings/emotions associated with relationships where one person likes another person and those feelings are reciprocated. It is truly a phase of relationship that is intoxicating (in a good way) and edifying because someone really likes us and wants to spend time with us, and in the case of serious relationship, is going in the direction of a marital commitment. What is the difference between co-dependence and healthy relationships? The difference is the presence of God in the lives of those who are romantically entwined. Without Him, the foundation of the relationship is how the other person is treating us.
|Looking to someone else as our primary source of security and significance.
||Looking to Jesus as our primary source of security and significance.
When we use the world’s standards for marriage, we make a fundamental mistake and have placed ourselves under a curse. Remember, everyone in the world is looking for love, but they are looking for it in all the wrong places, e.g. other people, places and things.
Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D. (c)
Chief Technical Advisor
Creation Studies Institute