’Till death us do part
God’s covenant love means he is totally committed to his people. As with any agreement there are promises made, conditions to fulfil and consequences if these are not met.
‘Covenant’ is a slightly old-fashioned word, but is still widely used today. It’s another word for a contract, a legal agreement. For example, two parties agree to supply and pay for certain goods and services. The contract lists the specific benefits and responsibilities for each person included in its terms and conditions.
Marriage, is also a covenant, a formal, public and binding agreement. In biblical terms, marriage is linked to procreation and therefore can only be made between those inherently capable of having children, that is, a biological man and a biological woman (with the presumption that both will fully identify with their biological sex). Circumstances such as age, infertility or other conditions that preclude a heterosexual married couple from having children does not negate the basic binary nature of biological sex. The point is that Christian marriage upholds these categories which inherently include the capacity to be fruitful and multiply.
In many nations, the civic definition of marriage has recently been changed to include people of the same sex. The principal reason given for this change is to provide equality under the (secular) law for LGBTQi+ people. Christian believers consider marriage to be a sacred bond as revealed in the Bible. Wider society does not share this perspective, however, secular marriage remains legally binding.
The sanctity of biblical marriage is held in extremely high esteem. This is due to the parallels between God’s relationship with his people and the marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage is a picture (some would argue a sacramental picture) of the gender specific relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. Our relationship with God is also defined in gender specific terms, a male Groom who is Christ and a female Bride incorporating all God’s covenant people.
Earthly marriage is ’till death us do part, whereas God’s covenant with his people endures after death when the divine-human relationship will be consummated.
The terms of this covenant are clear. God takes the initiative and confers his covenant love upon us, pledging himself in divine faithfulness. Believing loyalty is our response to God’s covenant love as we, in turn, pledge to remain faithful to him. He loves us eternally and remains forever faithful. But we must also be faithful to him. This conditional element really matters to God and he holds us responsible for keeping our pledge.
So, we see that God’s covenant love is conditional. Not in absolute terms, because God will never leave or forsake us. But the degree to which we enjoy his covenant love and blessing does depend on our continued believing loyalty to him.
This is linked to God’s rewarding love which is the subject of the next and final blog in this series.