Thank you for all of your sweet comments and emails yesterday. Of them, one stood out to me. Simply asked, "what is a covenant marriage?" I realize I've talked about it a lot and have never really explained it.
My previous marriage was not a covenant. Not really. I thought it was before I ever knew what it meant. Now that I do, I can tell you that it was definitely not. And neither was Bryon's first marriage. No matter. We learn, we grow, we move forward in an effort to do better and to glorify God.
I am so excited to marry Bryon. I am excited because I know what I'm signing up for now. And oh how I love him. LOVE IS A CHOICE, People. It is a decision to feel unconditionally. Like when we mess up and sin - God loves us despite our marks. Covenant marriage is partly about that. Now I'm going to borrow from my online resource to tell you the rest:
"Too many people today view marriage as a legal contract. Contracts are based on rights and responsibilities and are motivated by self-centeredness rather than unconditional love. A legal contract is necessary to begin and end a marriage, but a covenant is more than a contract.
A covenant is the most solemn binding relationship into which two parties can enter. A covenant is based on unconditional love while a contract is based on works. A covenant cannot be broken if new circumstances occur. A contract can be voided by mutual consent.
A covenant marriage is intended by God to be a lifelong relationship exemplifying unconditional love, reconciliation, sexual purity, and growth. A covenant is an eternal commitment with God. People can negotiate out of contracts, but not out of a covenant. The heart of covenant marriage is “the steadfast love of the Lord,” which comes from the very heart of God and “never ceases” (Lam. 3:22, RSV).
God intends for marriage to be a lifelong covenant relationship between a man and a woman. When a couple shares their wedding vows, they are vowing to God, each other, their families, and their community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation, and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in their covenant marriage relationship. It is God who desires to bring wholeness to families through covenant marriage relationships.
Elements of a Covenant Relationship
Covenants are the fruit of a loving, faithful relationship. The vows we exchange at our wedding reflect a relationship already bound by steadfast love and faithfulness. The degree in which these words have meaning comes in direct proportion to the unconditional love that dwells within our heart for the one to whom we are repeating them.
Covenant partners take responsibility for their actions. As partners in a covenant marriage relationship, we are responsible for our actions. An example would be to remain “sexually pure” in our thoughts and actions towards our spouse.
Covenants are based on freedom of choice. Covenant marriages are not built on coercion, deceit, and manipulation. Wives, submission is freely given and grows from respect, not fear and manipulation. In like manner, husband, choose daily to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” You must freely choose to love and honor her in spite of the fact that you may not “feel” like loving and honoring her.
Covenants are rooted in actions based on choices, not feelings. Our feelings are forever fluctuating. Therefore to build a covenant marriage on feelings is to build it on shifting sand, which cannot support the foundation of marriage.
Covenant partners nurture their relationship. Our marriage will grow as we build up one another in love. This takes place when we value our spouse more than ourselves. As we experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we are able to love our spouse as He loves us. Covenant partners administer unconditional love, forgiveness, and reconciliation while providing comfort and hope to their partner.
Covenants are based on commitments freely offered A covenant is built on selfless love, freely given and freely received. As strange as it may sound, a covenant marriage is one in which the “tie that binds” the couple together is a commitment freely offered with no strings attached. Paul said it well: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8)."
You can read more about covenant marriage here. (Source - they can say it a lot better than I can!)