Having just moved to a new city, I've lost track of how many contracts Luke and I have signed.
The bank, internet provider, electric company, and even the kid who installed our dishwasher all expect our name on the dotted line, as proof we will uphold our end of the bargain.
We've gotten good at navigating the fine print. If I stop paying my phone bill, I realize I'll be put in collections--and probably refused service in the future. But, if the phone company screws up and overcharges me, then I can demand a refund and switch providers, even though I agreed to my contract for a year. If they break the deal first, I'm not bound by it anymore.
Our justice system declares that the dirty, rotten, lying party must absorb the consequences, but the innocent party goes free. It's a fine system.
But, today, I want to remind the church that marriage is not a contract. And if you plan to attach exceptions and loopholes to your vows, please just don't get married.
Marriage is a Covenant.
It is a pledge before loved ones and God Himself that you will be faithful to your spouse until death separates you. You will forsake all others, and the two of you will become ONE FLESH.
This seems straight-forward, blunt, and down-right scary...unless you've been reading Christian literature lately. Thankfully, modern pastors calm us down with the assurance: there are many ways to get out of your promise.
1. If you are physically/emotionally/verbally abused, you can seek a divorce.
2. If your spouse is unfaithful, you're free to go. (And, let's not forget Jesus says just looking at someone lustfully is akin to adultery.)
3. Finally, if your Life Partner is an unbeliever who walks away from you, then he/she stops being your Life Partner.
In these cases, one flesh becomes two again, I guess.
That's the Contract of Marriage, sold in today's Church, and it is sweet! The Church Marriage provides you with a teammate, love, guilt-free sex, and a clear conscience...plus NO RISK!
There's no reason to worry about whether the person you marry is solid and faithful. If he/she isn't, you're off the hook! Just pick another person, roll the dice, and try again.
I'm not sure why the disciples were horrified by Jesus' description of the union. When He explained God's intentions for marriage, they said "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it's better not to marry!" Actually, guys, it's not so bad. If your spouse messes up, the deal is off.
Unfortunately, I didn't know about the Contract of Marriage when I wed my husband 4 1/2 years ago. Instead I stuck myself with a God-Witnessed Covenant.
Now it doesn't matter what Luke does, I must be faithful to him. That's what I promised.
If he renounces his faith and walks away, I'll be sad and lonely as a single woman. But I will be faithful to my word.
If he begins harming me physically, I will be shocked and devastated. (And I am free to separate myself from the situation.--1 Cor. 7:10,11) But I will not run to another man for comfort.
And even if Luke finds a younger, hotter woman--and leaves me in order to "marry" her--I will honor my vows. It won't matter that 90% of church leaders would encourage me to "move on" and find a new husband; nor would it matter that the laws of the land allow this. May God cut me in two before I violate His spiritual law of Covenants.
I ask you, unmarried readers, to consider carefully before "signing up" for a spouse. What happens to your soul is far more serious than an agreement filled with contingencies.
It cannot be undone.
Therefore, I ask that I be kept accountable, should the unthinkable happen and I find myself abandoned and hurting. I know my rationalization hamster would scurry to justify being selfish, especially since that selfishness would be encouraged by pastors and fellow Christians saying, "You deserve another shot. It's not your fault your ex-husband rebelled! Would God punish you for his sin? Luke broke the contract!"
But don't let me fall for that, dear reader.
I swear: I will not be romantically involved with another man unless Luke dies...exactly as I swore on June 14, 2008.
I know that's totally crazy. But I'm crazy-serious about Covenants.
And I implore you, young people, do not get married unless you are equally so.
This was posted after being read and approved by my Life Partner, Luke. :)
For an even more hard-hitting perspective, check out this blog.
For a very thorough examination on the Scriptures regarding divorce/remarriage, see Theologian John Piper's "position paper" here.