Why The Marriage Covenant Is So Important

The marriage covenant is often misunderstood or overlooked. However, it could be the most powerful concept in the Bible if properly understood. Once grasped, the language of marriage is easy to see throughout the Bible and is most prevalent in the words of Jesus.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about what a covenant is and how it’s different than a contract.   This distinction is important because it applies to one of the most important covenants in the Bible, the marriage covenant.

Let’s review covenants before we dive in.

  • A covenant as depicted in the Bible always requires blood or sacrifice.
  • A covenant is a promise that one party makes to the other.  The promise is guaranteed regardless of the actions of the other party.
  • There are no clauses, no way to terminate.  A covenant is forever and not time-bound.

To recap, for a Biblical covenant we need blood and an irrevocable promise.

Marriage Covenant

Scholars would say that the first covenant was with Noah.  The first one I remember is Abraham’s.  However, some could argue that the first covenant was when God created Eve.

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh.Genesis 2:21 NIV

In this first covenant, we have the first surgery; God cuts open Adam and creates Eve (the blood).   Now let’s look for the promise.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.Genesis 2:21 NIV
No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.Ephesians 5:29 NLT

The implied promise is that the marriage covenant binds you together as one.  You don’t need to promise to yourself to take care of yourself.   When you become married, “yourself” includes your spouse.  In Biblical times, when a man and woman would become married, they would consummate the marriage as part of the ceremony.  Afterward, they would show the blood from that first union.  It might feel cringeworthy to discuss it, but the symbolism of a true covenant was there.  The blood and the promise.

Understand God’s love for us

If I’m honest, I never really got the covenant part of the conversation whenever we did the communion.   It wasn’t until I understood what a covenant was and how it worked that I got the symbolism and promise of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  I saw it, the blood and the irrevocable promise.  The promise for all of us to not just receive salvation but love in ways we’ve never experienced before.   However, this particular post isn’t about the epic story of a Father and a Son conquering evil because they loved you and me.  This post is about the covenant promise that Jesus made to us and how He loves us.   Once we get a hint of that concept, we can then begin to understand how we’re supposed to love our spouse.

Love Our Spouse Like Jesus Loves Us

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her Ephesians 5:25 NLT

“Marriage isn’t 50/ 50, it’s 100/100.”   When I first heard this I thought, “how is that possible?”  It means you’re giving yourself to the other person one hundred percent, all of you.  It means serving them.    If I’m honest, most days I’m probably only giving fifty percent, some days less.   If my wife ever said, “you’re giving me one hundred percent of yourself,” then that’s a day I let Jesus take over one hundred percent.  However, as husbands we’re called to lay down our life for our wife.

submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Ephesians 5:21 NLT

Just like Jesus wasn’t talking about your physical life when He called us to follow Him, husbands aren’t called to lay down their physical life.  It’s much more than that.  It’s laying down dreams, desires and how you spend your time.   What’s being asked sounds more like servitude vs servant leadership.  However, when you have your priorities in order, with Jesus first, it becomes a source of leadership.  It’s as different as surrender and freedom sound.  Yet, the only way to achieve true freedom is from surrender.  Marriage is like that.

Love Jesus Like He Loves Us

There’s a theme here.  Once you understand that a covenant is an “all in” promise.  You understand that your Lord loves you this way.  You understand that your marriage is a promise to love as Jesus loves.   You start to see the similarities between how you’re supposed to love your spouse, how God loves us, and finally how you really are supposed to love God.  It’s circular.  The more you understand God’s love for you, the more you understand how to love your spouse and as a result how to love God back.

Love Other Like Jesus Loves Us

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”John 13:34-35 NLT

Love like Jesus loves us.  Love our spouse like Jesus loves us.  Love God like Jesus loves us.  Finally, love others as Jesus loves us.  This is the only way to be the light of the world.   They won’t know us for what we do, they (unbelievers) will know us for how we love.  The marriage covenant then is a symbol and reflection of God’s love.  This is why understanding the marriage covenant is so important.   In fact, once you grasp the concept, you’ll see the language of marriage all throughout the Bible.


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