Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. (Ruth 1: 16-17)
Is marriage a contract or a covenant? It’s both but the emphasis is on covenant. Why? Because most contracts apply to a limited amount of time—-for example, a three-year contract to lease a car. Unfortunately, many people enter marriage with a contract mentality, thinking, if it doesn’t work, we can get a divorce.
Consequently, some research indicates that one-half of all marriages end within two years. Covenants, on the other hand, are intended to be permanent, as we see in multiple places in the Bible. God made a covenant with Noah that extended to all generations (See Genesis 17). Covenants between two humans were also seen as permanent. For example, Ruth told her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, that she would go wherever Naomi went and stay with her, adopting her culture and her religion, even until death.
The beautiful statement of commitment is the language of covenant marriage. In fact, it’s similar to what we say in most marriage ceremonies: “For better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as we both shall live. Christian marriage is viewed as a lifelong covenant. It is this commitment to marriage that helps us through the rough spots of life. If we have a contract mentality, then we bail out when things get tough. Perhaps it’s time to remind yourself that you are committed to a covenant marriage.
Lord God, I am amazed that you entered into permanent covenants with sinful humans. You have made clear that marriage should be a permanent covenant as well. When my spouse and I are frustrated in our relationship, please remind us of our commitment. May it be an encouragement and a joy to us.