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Covenant or Consumer?

Series: Living As You Are Called

Married For Holiness

A few weeks ago, I introduced our “Living as You Are Called” series with a sermon questioning the purpose of marriage and why people get married.  Most people get married with the idea that it will or should make them happy, then become disappointed when this isn’t the immediate result.  I argued that marriage is actually designed to make us holy—to be made more in the image of God than we were before.  This morning, we’ll continue that thought and look at the covenant of marriage.  When we get married, we stand in front of a bunch of people and say a lot of seemingly ritualistic, traditional words: the vows, the ring ceremony, the “I dos.”  All of these, while steeped in tradition, are extremely purposeful.  There is an incredible amount of meaning behind the words being said—they aren’t just for pageantry!  Covenants like marriage ultimately reflect the kind of agreement God made with His people in the Bible.  I found the below explanation of a covenant helpful.  Modern society often misunderstands the ideas behind covenant.

In modern times we define a host of relations by contracts. These are usually for goods or services and for hard cash. The contract, formal or informal, helps to specify failure in these relationships. The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant. There is a difference. Contacts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, "Where were you? Why didn't you show up for your appointment?" He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract. According to the Bible, however, the Lord asks: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15) The Bible indicates the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor's appointment. If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent's obligation, unlike the doctor's, isn't canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he's cared for. One member's failure does not destroy the relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the unconditional commitment to love and serve. —Bruce Shelley (

Join us this morning as we look at the marriage covenant, and how our modern misunderstanding of covenant is part of our misunderstanding of the divine intention for marriage!

Scott McFarland

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Woodsfield Church of Christ - FaithStreet