Contract Marriage vs. Covenant Marriage

Contract Marriage vs. Covenant Marriage

Malachi 2:11b-14: “Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

In the final chapters of the Old Testament, to prepare His people for the coming of Jesus at the first Christmas, God the Father calls a family meeting of sorts and speaks to them about their marriages. We tend to think in very short timelines like weeks, months, or years. But God tends to think in very long timelines like decades, hundreds of years, or millennia. The problem in Malachi’s day that continues into our day is that men thought only about having a good time rather than leaving a good legacy.

The result? Marriages were a mess. Some believing men married unbelieving women. Other believing men who were married to believing women ran off with unbelieving women. And still, other believing men married an unbelieving woman but were unhappy and wanted out of their marriage…perhaps because once children entered the picture, the men realized their kids would grow up to be unbelievers like their mothers.

Most problems start with pants. Once a man can get dominion over his drawers, a long list of cultural problems simply subsides. Knowing this, God reminds us that His intent for marriage is that it be covenantal and not contractual.

As a Father teaching His wayward sons in Malachi, a vital lesson can be learned. How you relate to your wife is not a business arrangement where she is an employee who gets fired if you think you can find someone else to do the job better. As men, we are to treat our wives as God treats us – with relational love, forgiveness, patience, and devotion.

Mark Driscoll
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