There are 3 levels of agreement. The first level is the lightest and most casual which we will call an agreement. An agreement is a simple commitment between two people, such as making an appointment to go to lunch next Friday at a certain restaurant. The next level of agreement is a Contract. This type of agreement has some legal ramifications, and is often done in the form of writing. This type of agreement carries more responsibility, and more consequences if it is broken. An example is a contract to borrow money from a bank to purchase a house. A contract requires a higher level of commitment, and each party has more at risk. The highest level of agreement is a Covenant. A covenant is the highest level of commitment a person can make with another person. A covenant is a permanent agreement that is made before God as the highest binding authority, and the penalty of breaking this agreement is death. A covenant is made for mutual benefit, and is characterized by making the other person just as important as oneself. A covenant is never entered into lightly, and when the covenant is made, it is bound by some type of intense ritual that creates a permanent imprint on both parties. Some examples of covenant rituals is the commingling of blood, branding of names or symbols in the skin or permanent placement of rings on one’s fingers. The covenant partner will maintain the covenant, even to laying down one’s life to keep the covenant. The covenant system has been lost in our modern life, yet marriage is an institution that grew out of a covenant bond.
Christianity is a religion based on the covenant ideal. The bible is divided into the Old Covenant (Testament) and the New Covenant (Testament). If Christians truly understood the covenant commitment, things would be very different in our churches today. A covenant is an irreversible decision to move into a friendship bond that is deeper than blood siblings. The Christian Covenant is beyond the scope of this article, yet it is the foundation of the covenant marriage. A Covenant Marriage is the highest level of commitment two people could make towards each other. The covenant agreement is made during the exchanging of vows, and the original purpose of the vows is to state before God the covenant agreement, and state that if one does not remain faithful to the vows, one understands that death will follow. The understanding is that all possessions, talents and assets become part of the new unit, and there is no more “I,” there is only “we.” The extraordinary aspect of Christianity is that God desires this type of relationship with each human through Jesus Christ. The covenant marriage is really a trio covenant. It is the bonding of the bride, the groom and God, into a new unity.
Premarital counseling is an important aspect of developing a covenant marriage. The couple needs to understand the meaning of a covenant commitment. They need to explore levels of compatibility, and ability to live the selfless life that a covenant demands. A covenant commitment can be made only by mature adults, and the level of maturity of each person needs to be assessed. The covenant terms, or marriage vows need to be clearly understood and discussed before entering into the covenant ceremony. Pre marital counseling can help the couple discern whether they are truly ready to make the covenant commitment.
A covenant marriage requires a full commitment, yet it provides the highest level of security in a marriage. It demands accountability to a partner and to God, yet it provides the deepest level of fulfillment. The covenant marriage requires the greatest risk, yet it gives the greatest amount of benefit that a marriage can possess. If you want a marriage that will last the test of time, consider making your marriage a covenant union.
Dean Sunseri, LPC is a minister and Licensed Professional Counselor who has helped prepare many couples for covenant marriage. If you are interested in his face to face services or telephone services, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.