The past few years I have heard a number of pastors and wedding officiants use either the words covenant and contract when describing the nature of the marriage during the vows. I started to think about what this meant and if it really mattered. There are those who would say it’s just a matter of semantics and there is no sense in even bringing up the subject. I don’t know if it is a way for me to have a little control over the world, but I do like to splice hair on these types of subjects. It may be because to truly understand something you have to understand what it truly is. Well, this subject resparked my interest with a glance over the book, “The Love Dare.” This was the book that was introduced in the movie Fireproof. In short, “The Love Dare” is:
. . . a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love.
This unconditional love within a marriage can only occur if it is viewed as a covenant and not a contract. “The Love Dare” defines the two this way:
CONTRACT – a written agreement based on distrust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken.
COVENANT – a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life.
Well I thought I would look further and found another definition on a blog:
Since marriage vows are a form of a contract and the ceremony is a legally bound, I thought that a quick look to the law dictionary would be extremely helpful.
A contract is between two people that not only agree to do certain actions but also get something in return for those actions. A covenant, on the other hand, only ascribes what a person is going to do without an expected return.
Remember the traditional marriage vows?
“Will you, _______, have _____ to be your wife/husband? Will you love her/him, comfort and keep her/him, and forsaking all other remain true to him/her as long as you both shall live?”
(Rings) “With this ring I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, ’til death do us part.”
In no part of the vow is the person promising the other anything in return (CONSIDERATION!!!) for their commitment. Each are saying, “My love for you will be forever in the present. It will not be subject to time. I will never say, “I once loved you” or “I will love you” but only, “I love you.” Also, this love is not dependent on another’s actions or environments. The vow does not include the caveat, “I will only love you if I find you attractive, or that you love me back, or as long as you follow my every fickle wants and desires.” The vow only states,
“I will love you no matter who YOU are. I have fallen in love with YOU and have decided that YOU I want to be with for the rest of my life. So, no matter what happens in the future and how we may change, my love for you will always be in the present.”
Any additional thoughts you may have on the matter?