Covenant

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Counseling, Love, The Wedding Service, Weddings | 0 comments

Covenant

Dear Engaged Couple— This is a serious blog about a serious topic—marriage.  When I officiate at a religious wedding (as opposed to a secular wedding), as I do about 50% of the time, I use the word covenant, to refer to what the couple is creating.  When I am marrying a couple who does not want me to use religious lingo, I simply refer to what they are creating  as a “union.”  Union is descriptive.  Covenant has religious overtones, I think you will agree.

In Old Testament times people formed covenants—which were not enforceable by law, as is a contract.  It makes sense, actually.  In those days, as still today in some parts of the world, there just were not enough lawyers and judges, policemen or jails,  or even witnesses to go around.  So, people formed covenants with each other.  They were like promises, only more so. How’s that, you ask?

Covenants were often sealed in blood

Covenants were often sealed in blood

Do you know the difference between a contract and a covenant?

Well, for one thing, there is every indication that a covenant was originally sealed with blood.  Each party to the covenant made a slash in his arm, and as the blood began to flow the one would join his bleeding arm to the bleeding arm of the other so that their blood mingled.  Yes, it sounds ewee gross and very unsanitary, but there you have it.  The two were blood brothers, so to speak.  They were like family, and family members keep their word to each other.

"I covenant with you that my sheep may drink from your pond"

“I covenant with you that my sheep may drink from your pond”

Now the other thing that makes covenants like promises only more so, is the fact that if one half of the covenanting party reneges, the other still has a commitment to follow through.  So, suppose that your Old-Testament-era-neighbor, Joshua, has covenanted with you.  The agreement is that you can use his pond to water your sheep; and he can use a section of your land to plant his barley.  Now further suppose that after the covenant is made, your neighbor Joshua decides to build a fence around his pond so that your sheep can’t drink there.  You would think that the covenant is terminated.  At least that’s the way it would be with a contract.  One half of the party reneges and the contract is null and void. Not so with a covenant. In a covenant, you still have to uphold your half of the agreement.  It’s not fair, you say?  Maybe not.  Then again…  .Think of your agreement as actually being comprised of two covenants.  You made a covenant with Joshua and he made a covenant with you, but the one was really not contingent on the other.  Also, in Old Testament times, honor was highly valued.   It was a matter of honor that you stick to your covenant, even if your neighbor didn’t.   As your mother would say, “If Joshy is misbehaving, that doesn’t mean that you have to misbehave, too.”

Are you signing a contract or forming a covenant when you marry?

Are you signing a contract or forming a covenant when you marry?

Today even though we use the word covenant in religious services, I think that most couples consider that what they are agreeing to is more in the line of a contract. There are situations in which one or the other of you will consider the marriage null and void.  Think infidelity, abuse.  That is more in keeping with the times we live in certainly.  You will have to decide for yourself if, when you exchange those wedding vows, are  you and your beloved going to be parties to a contract or a covenant?

Definitely something to think about.

Happy Wedding Planning Your Wedding Preacher for Hire

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