Challenge: Evaluate the difference between a contract and a covenant. Make a written contract with yourself based on the 30 day Challenge, analyzing your readiness for the covenant of marriage.
Listening to a sermon about a week ago, the Pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas (I’m so visiting there!), Jimmy Evans, spoke about marriage. He made the statement that ‘relationships are contracts, but marriages are covenants’ and I was speechless. He didn’t really expound on it, but just that one line blew me away. So being me, I started researching. What is the difference between contract and covenant and how does it relate to relationships and marriage? I’m glad you asked. Let’s go…
Contract is defined as a written and/or spoken agreement amongst two or more people with guidelines, stipulations, and/or consequences upon breech. A covenant is defined as a binding agreement that usually involves exchanged promises between two or more parties, never intended to be broken. So by these two definitions, I extract that a contract is an agreement that is made with consequences if the terms aren’t fulfilled. But a covenant is different; it’s never meant to be broken. The stakes are much higher in this agreement.
So how does this relate to relationships? Stay with me now, cause we’re going somewhere (that’s my preacher plug). I completely agree with Pastor Jimmy Evans statement that relationships SHOULD be contracts and marriages SHOULD be covenants-but sadly, I don’t think this is always the case. I believe sometimes we treat relationships more like the covenant and then look at marriage as the contract. Ouch.
Let me explain. IF we were to treat relationships as contracts, then if a person does not live up to their end of the bargain: i.e. a man treating the woman as the prize, the woman honoring the man, mutual respect, open communication and consideration, etc., there should be consequences. If we encounter a breech, then we would address it as such and understand that contracts can be broken. In a relationship, we should be willing to make sure that we are getting what we need, and we should understand that we are NOT in a covenant yet, and if we do experience deal-breakers then we can call ‘breech’ and get out.
So often, this is not the case. We get into relationships and we treat them as covenants, afraid to accept that the answer to this courtship may be no, and risk starting all over again. Who wants to do that? So, we will just stay in the relationship and pretend like everything is great, because our ultimate goal is to get to the altar. We put up with things that we wouldn’t, excuse things that we shouldn’t, and ignore things that we can’t-because we see this as leading us to what will make us happy-which is marriage. What we just can’t get through our tunnel vision heads is that if we are not happy in the relationship, we will be miserable in the marriage. Many of us do this, but no one wants to be the first to admit it, so I just did. Now, we can move on and do better.
Treating a relationship as a covenant confuses us and our motives. We are no longer guarding our hearts, in fact we have wrapped it in a pretty bow and handed it over to our mate. Now we are emotionally invested, so it becomes EVEN HARDER to let go because now we ‘love him so much’. Lord, help us.
If this were all, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, (never mind-it still would be), but we don’t stop there. If the relationship is the covenant than by process of elimination, that makes marriage the contract. We enter into what God has established as an everlasting covenant, with the mindset of ‘if this doesn’t work out.’ The biggest example of this is a pre-nuptial agreement. This post will not address why or why not it could be a good idea in the event that ‘something happens’, because that again would be perpetuating the view that marriage is a contract.
Once we get THRU the altar, we realize that marriage is not just fairytales and butterflies, and somehow our prince in shining armor, has lost his suit and the white horse he rode in on mysteriously died. Now doubt is setting in. Those things that you overlooked, or wrote off as ‘no big deal’ when you were in your covenantal relationship, are now very big deals because this person NEVER LEAVES. The inconsideration for your time and opinion in the relationship, has now become a spouse that makes decisions without regard for you, or at the best, just without you. The harsh words that he would speak, and the hitting below the belt that she would often do-have now become your only form of communication. Now, you are ready to call ‘breech of contract’ and you are looking for a way out. If only you would have sought that way, BEFORE you got in.
Honestly, evaluate your view of relationships, current and future. Only use the past ones, to realize your mistakes and grow from them. There is no point on dwelling on what the mate did wrong in a past relationship, because of course you are going to remember that you were perfect and they were the spawn of satan. Don’t do that to yourself, because it will taint your realistic view of your future.
Scared of being that real? Ok, I’ll start. My most relationship was a prime example of how I began to view it as a covenant and not a contract. I recall writing in my journal within the first two weeks of meeting him, that he didn’t treat me like I believed I should be treated. I also remember rationalizing it to mean that we just ‘needed to get to know each other better’. He made decisions without me even those that directly affected me, but ‘we weren’t married yet, right?’ He discounted my feelings and actually told me they were stupid, but I excused it as ‘I’m being too sensitive’. Do you get this?! This was all within the two months of the relationship, but I still stayed with him for four more! Just stupid! No, not stupid, just foolishly attached and not wanting to go through the heartache of snatching my heart back from a man that should have never had it. I laid my pearls before swine (this is not a dig at him, only a realization that he should have been off limits), then I was shocked when he didn’t know what to do with them. We even went to look at rings, to further dig my roots in, so there was no way I was leaving after that.
Eventually I woke up-or better yet God gut-punched me to get my attention. I am so grateful that He did, before I entered into our marriage ‘contract’. Because that is exactly what it would have been. And I would have gotten out, eventually because God wouldn’t have allowed the favor that He placed on me to be stamped out. My purpose is too great—and so is yours. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve been an ex-girlfriend, and even an ex-fiancé, but the Lord has spared me the title of ex-WIFE.
Take this very real struggle of mine and use it as your front-seat lesson. Stop entering covenant relationships, and save that title for what it is meant to be: Marriage.
Thank you for sharing these 31 Days with me. May God continue to bless us all as we continue to journey together.