In our day the sanctitiy of the marriage bond is treated in a similar way to that of buying something with a ‘return if it doesn’t suit’ tag line attached. We are all familiar with this cultural ‘easy in, easy out’ hitch, but it should not be so among believers.
But sad to say ‘the sins of the culture soon become the sins of the church.’ I am reminded of Israel when in days of political peace and material prosperity, God’s people soon followed the sinful practices of the pagan cultures that surrounded them. They rejected the wisdom and knowledge of God, which brought about God’s promised discipline. (Hosea 4)
So what knowledge of God is our culture rejecting when it comes to marriage? Our culture views marriage as merely a contract whereas God designed it as a covenant.
Contract View: Marriage as a contract
emphasises its secular arrangement over its biblical roots, and can be likened
to a business model of agreement. Marriage is seen as “a civil union governed
by the State who issue both marriage licenses and divorce certificates.”1
Marriage is reduced to a “conditional contract that is voluntarily formed,
maintained and dissolved by the two parties involved.”2 This
rejection of God’s design, opens the floodgates for temporary marriages and
marriages to suit the whims of culture. (Gen. 2:24; Matt 19:4-6)
Covenant View: God designed the marriage bond to be a covenant. This is a “sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly entered into before God…”3 Anything less than this or anything that violates this sacred bond is a rejection of God’s ordained design for marriage.
Jack Hayford comments on the marriage covenant spoken of in Malachi 2:14. “God backs up the covenant of marriage (Mal 2:13,14,16). When two people marry, God stands as a witness to the marriage, sealing it with the strongest possible word: covenant. Covenant speaks of faithfulness and enduring commitment. It (the covenant of marriage) stands like a divine sentinel over marriage, for blessing or for judgment. Divorce is here (Mal 2:13,14,16) described as violence….Yet, where husband and wife live according to their marriage vows, all the power of a covenant-keeping God stands behind them and their marriage. What a confidence, to know that God backs up our marriage. His power and authority stand against every enemy that would violently threaten it from without or within.4
1Kostenberger Andreas J. God, Marriage and Family – Rebuilding Biblical Foundations. Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois. 2004 p. 81. 2Ibid. 3Ibid. 4Hayford, J. W.,Hayford's Bible handbook. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers