Marriage: Covenant Rules or Covenant Relationship

As I study 2 Corinthians 3 this morning for a different post in a different direction, I am drawn to a word study. Covenant.


What is a covenant? At first I’m thinking contract, agreement, something official that seals the deal so to say.

He has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

I go to read some commentary on the chapter for some insight on the topic I’m actually working on, and low and behold come across the Greek word, diatheke, for covenant.

You can find a full Greek definition for diatheke on Bible Hub. It contains various definitions provided by the different concordances/translations.

The Greek definitions aren’t too far off from my original guesses. One thing that shows up, however, is a final will and testament. That thought really stuck out to me.

Merriam-Webster’s definitions were also in line with my above guesses.

But the commentary I was reading on EnduringWord discussed from two different authors the fact that this covenant was not an agreement between God and man, but a promise directly from God to man. Man can not negotiate the terms.

This definition of covenant, promise from God to man, reminds me more of a final will and testament. If I am writing my will out, I do not have to discuss my intentions with any of the recipients. I may simply decree how my body, service, and any property gets dealt with and those remaining must live with my decision. By the time the covenant becomes relevant, the terms will be nonnegotiable due to my demise.

There are two types of covenants discussed in the verse I shared above. The verse I couldn’t seem to move past this morning.

  • A covenant of written laws
  • A covenant of the Spirit

As I looked at this verse, a rogue thought appeared. My marriage is an example of this. God ordained my marriage. What do I mean by that? I did not intend to get married when I did. There were no circumstances forcing me to get married. Actually, the opposite is true. I gave up pretty much a full-ride to college to stay home and get married. I took a new last name and a full-time job while my friends went away for higher education. I had not known my husband even a year when he first gave me a diamond ring. Said ring didn’t even come with an actual proposal. (You can read about that here.) I can’t say with any assurance that anyone we knew actually believed in or supported our marriage. Except for the one who ordained it. The one who put the covenant in place. You see, my wedding ceremony was a lot like a baptism–all for show.


Sure, we obtained the legal license, our ordained minister preformed the ceremony, rings were exchanged, unity candles were united, and legal signatures were obtained following the service. Our friends and families came to witness the event. Nothing magically happened in that ceremony that joined us together. It definitely didn’t have anything to do with a piece of paper. We were already covenanted to each other by God. That wedding ceremony was simply our public confession of that covenant. God offered that covenant. It didn’t occur when Chris gave me a ring on February 14, 1997. It didn’t occur when I gave it back later that spring, nor when he put it on my finger once again later that summer. It didn’t occur hours upon hours after a wedding ceremony when we finally made it to our hotel and promptly fell asleep while the in-suite Jacuzzi tub was filling up to overflowing.

God set us apart for each other long before we ever knew the other existed. Satan tried a lot of different things to keep us apart. A few of them almost worked. But God said.

You see, a covenant written on paper leads to death. In the case of marriage it leads to divorce, alimony, child support, broken homes, bitterness, anger, do I need to go on?

A covenant of the Spirit leads to life. In the case of marriage it leads to respect, friendship, a united front, a three-strand cord, ever-increasing family size, joy, peace, love, should I go on this time?

A written covenant is rule-based, but a covenant of the Spirit is relationship-based.

You know, I like knowing the rules and consequences probably more than most, but if my marriage was simply based on the idea that if I didn’t meet up to some set of standards then Chris could simply divorce me and move on I’m pretty certain I would have been single days after we signed that paper.

It’s just like the 10 Commandments. If God were to hold me accountable to the 10 Commandments in order to obtain salvation and inherit the kingdom of God, then I would have no hope. I can’t go a single hour, probably not a single minute, without breaking one of the ten commandments. That written covenant that we have fought so hard to keep in view would condemn me to hell because it leads to death.

I am incapable of keeping the 10 Commandments no matter how hard I try. And, yes, I do try. I’m still human and I fail daily, hourly, and if we’re being honest, minutely most days.

That is why I’m so grateful that when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior the Spirit filled me and now I am ruled by a relationship-based covenant. When I screw up I can repent and try again tomorrow.

My failures in my marriage are the same way. I repent and try again tomorrow because God covenanted my marriage. My marriage isn’t between two people–it’s between three.

Could you spare a moment to look through the blog posts below and click the <3 on your favorite 3? Pretty please? Passing out love votes ends at noon on Wednesday, July 1, 2014.

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