God established marriage as a covenant, not a contract (Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:16-17). It is important to understand the difference between these two. Three important differences exist:
- A covenant is based on trust between parties. A contract is based on distrust.
- A covenant is based on unlimited responsibility. A contract is based on limited liability.
- A covenant cannot be broken if new circumstances occur. A contract can be voided by mutual consent.
Therefore, the marriage covenant between a man and a woman is a comprehensive and permanent commitment. This type of marriage covenant was ordained by God to provide believers with a picture of Christ’s love and relationship to His church (Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 21:2, 9).
Once the wise woman embraces God’s primary purpose for marriage, she will encounter numerous secondary purposes or blessings of a Christ-honoring relationship. Many women have the tendency to pursue these secondary purposes over God’s primary purpose. While secondary purposes are good and worthy of pursuit, they should be viewed as blessings resulting from God’s primary purpose for marriage – that of modeling Christ’s love for His church through the development of Christian character. Secondary purposes for marriage could include: companionship, enjoyment, fruitfulness, and protection. When secondary purposes for marriage are placed above the primary purpose, discontentment, fearfulness, and disillusionment often result. For example, the woman who has made the primary purpose of marriage fruitfulness will be devastated and unfulfilled if she is unable to bear children of her own.
Maintaining a godly perspective of the purpose of marriage provides the foundation for a successful marriage relationship. Marriage becomes a spiritual endeavor rather than being dependent on financial status, bearing children, or securing a specific employment. Being able to fulfill God’s intended pattern and purpose for marriage should motivate wise women to develop Christlike character.
(Excerpt from “Embracing God’s Purposes for Marriage” by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock)