The Marriage Covenant

I saw an interesting meme the other day praising marriage. It pontificated about how difficult marriage can be and young married couples should strive to keep their marriages together when marriage isn’t all fairytale dreams. When ‘sharing’ the meme, it was suggested putting a photo of yourself and spouse along with how long you have been married. What I found interesting with the person who posted the meme is I know the man has been divorced once; the woman twice and they are presently only married 10 years. Though the meme offered sound advice, a post praising marriage from divorcees seemed strange.

When I initially wrote the word marriage for the title, I heard the voice of the priest from Princess Bride say: “Marrwigde is what bwings us togedeter today.”  Yes, it is.

Marriage is a covenant. It was instituted by God in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Though marriage is not always an easy road, it should always be the road on which we stay the lifetime course. At the time I am writing this, my husband and I have been married 31 years; neither of us were ever married before.  We have had some rough and tough times to be sure, but apart from the traditional vows, we promised something to each other on our wedding day (at the advice of my dad):  Never go to bed angry.  We have been faithful to that advice all of these years. Whenever there is a disagreement or issue, we talk it out so the devil doesn’t get a foothold in our relationship. 

On a road trip with my son several years ago, he asked me “What is one word that is most important in marriage?” I responded with ‘forgiveness.’ Forgiveness is the cornerstone of a marriage relationship especially when both spouses are believers because forgiveness is commanded by Yeshua. Forgiveness is the first step to accepting our individual responsibility in every disagreement. When we forgive one another, we will eventually have restoration of the relationship. Some things may be more difficult to forgive than others, but Yeshua doesn’t say to forgive only the little things, but to forgive everything – 70 x 7 times a day!

I remember being married only a few weeks and my husband confessed something from his past that was pretty shocking to me.  I remember asking him, “Are you born again?”  He responded, “Yes.”  I continued, “Have you asked forgiveness from God?”  He responded, “Yes.”  At that point the discussion was over.  The event has never come up again and this is the first time in our married life that I’ve even acknowledged it happened.

Did my husband and I bring junk from past relationships into our marriage? Probably. We’re human beings and we lived in sexual sins before meeting and after. However, we have never focused on our pasts or blamed the junk from those relationships as the reason for any problems. In many cases we hit the issues head on.

For example, many years ago an old girlfriend of my husband’s stayed with us for two days while we attended her brother’s wedding. Strange? Yes. But I trusted my husband. I also met a former girlfriend of my husband’s on a trip to the midwest.  She was a very nice woman, married with her own family. Was it strange? Yes. Was I jealous? Absolutely not. My husband went with me to a professional football game to watch a former boyfriend from college play professionally. I’m not sure he thought it was weird because he enjoyed the free football tickets! Yet, sometimes we have to rest in who we are in Yeshua and trust who we are in our marriage relationship. All of these awkward situations brought us closer together rather than drive a wedge between us.  We sin against God and each other enough times on our own that to allow past junk to fester and destroy our marriage is pointless. 

We have trust in our marriage.  This doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been stretched a time or two even to the point of even breaking, but if one doesn’t trust their spouse, then what is left?  I do not care to know my husband’s passwords to his computer or phone except in the event he dies; nor do I stalk him on social media because he has his own life and I have mine. We trust each other.

What I see and hear in many marriage relationships is no one accepts personal responsibility.  Husbands and wives  blame each other and bring up past relationships in their arguments. When we are born again into God’s Kingdom, the past is in the past and should remain there. It should not be thrown into anyone’s present or be the cause for separating from our spouse.   That’s the work of the devil.  Period.

Scripture is very clear about marriage, divorce and remarriage. There are reasons God hates divorce – He has seen the results for Himself with his relationship with His people. Junk from previous marriages can be very detrimental to present relationships because the severing of one flesh that happens in marriage is more than difficult – it isn’t supposed to happen.

Our past definitely affects who we are, but if we’re born again, we’re new creations and the old has passed away.  That is how I like to live out my life and my marriage relationship. I appreciate that my husband lives his life the same way. Sometimes we reminisce about our pasts and either laugh at our foolishness or are reminded of our regrets because we didn’t know the ways of God and put them into practice.

One of the problems I have witnessed over the years is that most wives (since this is my world as a woman) want to be the Spirit of God in their spouse’s life, convicting them of sin.   That is not the job of a spouse – husband or wife.   If you don’t like something in your spouse’s life, figure out if it’s a personal personal issue or actual sin.   If it’s a personal pet peeve, talk about it. Then, let it go.  If your spouse is sinning, present it to God as a sin and allow the Spirit of God to deal with it.  This is called trusting God to bring each of us to His perfection.  If your husband is not a believer in Messiah, then wives are commanded to live such pure and holy lives that their husbands are convicted.  Pure and holy doesn’t mean being the convicting Spirit, but allowing the Spirit to live, rule and convict your life.

I had a friend who when she became pregnant with her second child her husband wanted her to have an abortion.  He was not a believer.  She didn’t know what to do as their first child was born out of wedlock. They waited nearly a year after the child’s birth to get married. She had been through this tough decision before and didn’t know quite how to handle it.  God brought her an opportunity to leave for three days on a mini vacation.  She went.  When she returned, her husband apologized and his heart was changed.  That little girl is his special child.  This friend had faith that God would work while she was gone.  He did.

I believe God joins people together – for better or worse – whether or not the two persons believe in God. As I stated earlier, marriage is a covenant created by God so those who get married enter that covenant whether they realize it or not.

It amazes me what some people think is ‘worse’ as I would be divorced numerous times over by now if I had those same standards on my husband and marriage. ‘Worse’ is the worst thing you can imagine and then multiply it a billion times. Worse is not death; worse is not illness; worse is not hanging out with the guys (or gals). Worse becomes worse when it meets you where you are and is unexpected. It takes the wind out of your sails. It gives you a feeling of defeat and loss. Yet, the vow taken was to remain faithful ‘for better or worse.’

No one is to divide the marriage relationship – no one, not a friend, child, pastor or parent.  Especially a parent. Parents have no place in a marriage relationship.  This is why the woman leaves her home and a man leaves his mother according to Genesis.  Torah commands that for the first year of marriage the married couple is to be ‘left alone’ in order to begin their own home – leave and cleave are the buzz words.   When my son got married, we followed that command.  We only visited he and his wife that first year when they initiated it.  They needed to begin their own life together without unwanted advice from us.  My husband and I had no interference in our marriage as my family lived on the east coast of the U.S. and his lived on the west coast.  Because we lived in the middle of the country, we were able to grow our relationship without family interference.

We agreed early on that we would never ever use the D word – Divorce.  Having that idea in the back of the mind just opens doors for the enemy to take hold of one of our sins, and as is human nature, pride seeks its obvious course.  Throwing the D-word around is a sign of knowing you have an escape rather than to press on in spite of difficult situations.

I was blessed to have parents who were Christians and married until death parted them after only 21 years of marriage. My grandparents were Mennonite and I was raised in a ‘plain’ way.   My husband’s parents divorced when he was 18 and he purposed in his heart that he would never take that path before he ever met me or the Lord.  We have also been blessed that we did not come from manipulative homes with overbearing moms or dads or alcohol and drugs.

I was a staunch feminist when I met my husband. In college I had a book bag that said, “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate.”  I was all for woman’s equal rights and everything that went along with that mantra.   However, today I am so far removed from that mindset for two reasons.  First, it is rooted in the Jezebel spirit and and creates a woman dominated household. Many women I know complain that their husbands don’t spiritually lead their family. Perhaps it’s because the wife is dominating that role!  If a woman wants a leading man, then let him lead!

Second, according to Scripture men and women are only equal in terms of sin, redemption and forgiveness.  There is a line of authority given by God. I am commanded to submit to my husband as I would to the Lord – like the holy women in the past.   For me this has been a journey of learning how to do submit in an equal role.

Several months ago my husband and I listened to a teaching on marriage for young unmarried people.  My husband commented that “We did it all wrong.”  Yes, we did.  We lived together; one a believer, the other not.  We didn’t understand anything about the purity of the marriage bed, protecting our hearts and minds, or even the spiritual warfare that is strong and steady trying to destroy the marriage covenant.   It’s not how you begin the race that matters, but how you finish it.  Forgive, press on, and pray for your spouse.  Have faith that God will work everything to His glory in His perfect timing.  There are still things that bug me about my husband as I’m sure there are things that bug him about me, but we have overcome and will continue to do so because that’s what our vows meant to us when we entered the marriage covenant.

©2015 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

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