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Covenant Marriages | Why They Are Essential!
by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
As many know, the divorce rate is roughly 50% for both Christians and non-Christians. Consequently, Christian singles are often frightened to enter marital commitment because they don’t want to become another statistic. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to unpack our current state of divorce and strive towards covenant marriages. To begin with, our culture promotes instant gratification. Our modern world encourages us to get our needs met immediately. When we are hungry, we stick a ready-made meal in the microwave, when we want information, we google it, when we want coffee, we go through a Starbucks drive through, etc. Also, our culture encourages us to maximize our pleasure and replace whatever isn’t working with something better. We are continually bombarded with advertisements to upgrade to the shiniest new gadgets, to take our dream vacation, to purchase the newest car with all the bells and whistles, etc. Not surprisingly, this attitude towards life has spilled over into our approach to marriage. When we enter marriage expecting our needs to be met immediately with continual happiness, we become extremely disillusioned when this doesn’t occur. Then, our immediate impulse, promoted through our culture, is to discard our spouse and replace them with someone better.
Another contributing factor to the high divorce rate is the contractual approach to marriage. The contract approach says, “I’ll stay committed to this marriage as long as I’m happy and in love; however, if those feelings dissipate then divorce becomes a viable option.” This perspective, which is often unspoken, is unrealistic and problematic. To begin with, love within marriage needs to be based on a decision and not an emotion, since emotions can be fickle and unreliable. Also, it’s unrealistic to expect marriages to always be blissful because every marriage goes through seasons of harvest and drought. Lastly, this approach prevents couples from fully working through problems and challenges because the option of divorce always provides an easy out.
“…Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended” (Mathew 19:8, NLT). Divorce was not a part of God’s original design. Instead, He wants couples to view marriage as a lifelong commitment towards one another, referred to as covenant marriages. The covenant approach to marriage says despite times of marital conflict, despite periods of frustration, despite not always getting my needs met, I’m still committed to you through it all. This backdrop of unconditional love and acceptance leads to unsurpassed levels of intimacy and joy. In addition, it maximizes a couple’s motivation to resolve conflicts and challenges because divorce is no longer a viable option.
Even though God wants us to strive towards lifelong commitment within marriage, there are a few instances where most Christians would agree divorce is acceptable, referred to as the three A’s. First is adultery. When a partner has had an affair and will not end it, repent, and strive to improve the marriage, divorce is an option. Second is abuse. When a partner is experiencing any form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse and the perpetrator is not willing to receive treatment, divorce is recommended. God does not want us to experience any type of abuse within our marriage. Third is abandonment. If someone abandons their marital partner with no sign of returning, divorce is a viable option.
In sum, God wants us to strive towards lifelong marital commitment because He knows it is optimal for our marital satisfaction and success.
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What do you feel are the advantages of approaching marriage as a covenant?