Katie and I went to a wedding last night. It was a friend of hers from high school. I think it was one of the better weddings I have ever attended. The service was a bit long, but it was very beautiful and deeply personal. The couple and the ministers really highlighted the communal aspect of marriage with the language and arrangement of the service. After all, marriages are about more than the husband and the wife. Marriage involves the whole community, which is why you invite friends and family to a wedding. They are witnesses of the founding of the marriage covenant and are thereby participants in its keeping. When marriages break apart, the whole community is splintered.
I appreciated that one of the ministers officiated the wedding (there were two) explained the meaning of a covenant as opposed to a contract. A contract says, "I will do my part as long as you do your part." Perhaps this attitude works well in business, but it works terribly in marriage. Instead, a covenant says, "I will do my part whether you do your part or not."
I know a man whose wife has been unfaithful to him. This has been very public and humiliating for him. The community of people surrounding this couple have tried to bring this young woman into account. This is only right. Remember, marriage between two people is also a communal thing. However, this woman has failed to show any public remorse for her actions. This has caused frustration within the community. Still, the man has accepted her and has accepted the consequences of her actions. Why? Perhaps he is being a push-over. Perhaps he should not let her off the hook so easily. Or perhaps he is saying, "I will do my part whether you do your part or not."
The marriage covenant is not for the weak, the selfish, or the faint of heart. Rather, it is in the marriage relationship that we learn the true meanings of strength, selflessness, and courage. As Christians, who have been on the grace-receiving end of the New Covenant in Jesus' blood, let us remember the sanctity of marriage and faithfully display to the world this picture of the covenant love of Christ.
God bless John and Erin.