Today's Christian Marriage
12/14/14 at 02:59 PM 7 Comments

BIBLICAL MARRIAGE and The Erroneous Marriage Covenant

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When the church attempts to define Biblical marriage, an ill-perceived and ill-conceived concept is attached to it that is consistently and erroneously advocated by the church. That concept is the so-called “marriage covenant” (vows stated by the couple at their wedding), which is valid only by the presence of human witnesses. This farcical concept extolled by the church as a requirement for the existence and validation of a God approved marriage is preposterous and absolutely unbiblical.

There are primarily two reasons causing one to advocate such a false unbiblical concept: Biblical ignorance or blatant rejection of what is Biblically and pointedly conveyed as to the makings of a God ordained marriage. However, AT THIS TIME, I believe ignorance is the overwhelming reason for this error, which I have constantly pointed to in my previous articles. There are many, though, who flat out reject this truth. What is important to remember, though, is that when one’s understanding of Biblical marriage is skewed, every concept applied to it will most likely be skewed as well.

This marital covenant business is something that people inquire about in regard to my theology of Biblical marriage. (Note: To acquire the foundation of that theology, one can begin by reading my article “The Honor of Biblical Marriage”). I have expounded only briefly on actual Biblical marital covenants, as well as the church’s unbiblical covenants in some of my other articles. However, in this article, I want to focus on it exclusively and point out some aspects that I haven’t referenced before.

I think the best way for me to proceed is to first describe an actual Biblical marital covenant. Then, I will give illustrations of the unbiblical descriptions and applications popularized in the church, along with some eccentric and bizarre references attached to it, as well.

So, how does the covenant fit within marriage for a Biblical Christian?

When covenants were exercised in Biblical times, it was a binding agreement between a man and another man for the marriage of his VIRGIN daughter. This was the only time a covenant was implemented. Plain examples of this procedure and purpose are illustrated throughout the Old Testament and vaguely alluded to twice in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the governance of these binding agreements was inscribed in Jewish legislation. The legislation, deduced from Scripture, prescribed no insertion of any required contents, but primarily governed what was to be done if a girl was taken sexually without a covenant or any violation of its contents, as well as the principles inherent based on the marital law of God. All Biblical covenants of marriage were of the same purpose – acquiring, mostly through some expense, a pure bride for marriage. Yes, this is how women were generally bought and sold for marrying. It was the way of men after the fall of man in the Old Testament, and to a degree carried over into the New Testament.

Once the terms of the agreement (covenant) were fulfilled, the couple were considered husband and wife by covenant (espousal), which, generally, the maiden at a prescribed time would be delivered (given) to the purchaser’s dwelling (bedchamber) for them to make a marriage (sexual intimacy). Once this was done, she now no longer was his wife by covenant, but his wife by marriage, with the celebration afterward. They two were now joined as one flesh. Flesh with flesh.

Now, what must be understood is that marriage occurred even without a covenant existing. It is very clear in Scripture that covenants had nothing to do with making a God joined marriage. It was strictly a procedure of espousal giving lawful rights to a father to decide who would be allowed to marry his daughter for her benefit and/or his benefit.

If a man took a maiden (a virgin), (not by rape, which is described in Deut. 22:25) without a covenant with her father, marrying her (sexual intimacy), there was a law dealing with that. The law stated that the man had to pay an automatic 50 shekels of silver to the father for this infringement, because his actions violated the father’s rights and authority over his daughter (Deuteronomy 22:28&29). This appears to be “the dowry of virgins” noted in Exodus 22:16&17. Verse 17 does not insinuate, as many suppose, that a father could keep his daughter from the man to be his wife, but rather, maximum compensation was to be paid by law, if the father failed to agree to take less or just “give” her to him.

Again, many assume this verse to insinuate that the father can refuse and keep her from the man from having her at all. This is wrong for two reasons: 1. If he didn’t give her to him, she, no longer a virgin, would unlikely ever be accepted by a man, and additionally forfeit any opportunity of receiving a dowry for her, because of her impuity. She was this man’s wife, period. 2. It is commanded in Deuteronomy 22:29 that the man must accept (bear responsibility for) her as his wife and can never put her away (Bill of Divorcement) all his days. In other words, a marriage between them had already been made without the covenant. Isn’t that amazing!

There are other ample examples in Scripture illustrating the truth that a Biblical marriage did NOT occur through a covenant, as is taught by the church. To expound on them here would be too lengthy, but if interested, I do expound on them in my book “It’s Good For A Man Not To Touch a Woman.”

So, something needs to be observed here in the illustration I just presented and all others found in the Bible: These covenants were not at all what the Christian church labels marriage covenants to be today. There was never a covenant or any vow made between the man and woman. It was always an agreement between the man and the father for acquisition of the woman. Once sold, she didn’t have much to say about it. Upon the conditions being satisfied within the covenant, she immediately became his espoused wife by law, but not a married wife, and the covenant did not govern that espousal. At a time determined by the espoused husband, they went into the bedchamber and were married there after it. From the point of the espousal, the covenant was history, unless he found her not to be a virgin after going in to marry her. Beyond this, the covenant had no bearing on their marriage. Their marital union was now legislatively governed, which addressed marital infidelity, except in the case of the issuance of a Bill of Divorcement.

The church’s promoting of the so-called marriage covenant is not Biblical and most certainly does not make a Biblical marriage. If two people, qualified to be married by God, make vows to one another, then, that is all they are (see my article MARRIAGE: A Vow Won’t Make It). Please hear me on this. The vows stated at anytime between a man and woman never, never, ever, ever truly govern their marriage. In a Biblical marriage, where two become one flesh, the union is strictly governed by Scripture (void of being rewritten) and not the promises/vows made to each other.

A fact needs to be understood as the reason for my last comment: The vows recited are irrelevant, because New Testament Scripture defines the obligations and commitments of each sex within the marriage. It defines what makes it, what defiles it, the position/level/order of the man and woman in that marriage, along with instruction of conduct and disposition. Any vows made by the couple, cannot supersede, alter, or enhance Biblical marital purity, instruction, and expectation. The church’s erroneous covenant distorts the truth that EVERY part of a Biblical marriage is Biblically governed and regulated, with no other inputs. What does this mean? It means, for a Biblical marriage to exist, covenants, ministers, vows, witnesses, civil or personal contracts/documents, rituals, etc. are unnecessary.

The bottom line is this: Marriage is in nature. None of those things I listed are required to be married before God. They are all unnatural. Just as you don’t need any of those man made devises or rituals to be a mother or a father – to create and bring into the world a new living soul (I give credit to my lovely wife who made this point clear).

The most important responsibility of the Biblical Christian is to make sure that you and, as possible, the one you join yourself with (sexually) are Biblically qualified to do so, to avoid fornication. I believe it is important that your other should understand how a marriage is made, and the consequences of violating it. That is all there is to it and nothing else is required other than a male and female to make it happen.

Every Christian needs to know these principles of marriage. However, a word of advice for parents: Teach your children these principles of marriage, because the church today is ignorant to these truths and are steeped in the culture; no longer protecting their daughters regarding what males they come in contact with, or who ever they marry. Children who show signs of a level of maturity to understand marital principles should be taught them for their own sake. I have provided everything you need.

Now that I have described what a Biblical marriage covenant was, let’s look at some comments and descriptions offered by other Christians as to what they describe a marital covenant to be, as is accepted by the church as relevant and Biblical.

What happens when Christians fail to accept and teach true Biblical marital concepts, but instead believe these false ideas advocated today by the church? Besides wrongful actions, ridiculous, unbiblical, deceptive, and disingenuous declarations and prognostications ensue, with no proof to back them up, which can easily be discovered by an online search.

Here are just some examples of what I just cited:

1. Ministers will demand the couple recite certain vows, which they deem valid by representing seriousness toward marriage or they will refuse to do the ceremony.

2. Scholars will rewrite Scripture to promote their theology, deviated from the original text and claim it is the original meaning.

3. Old Testament examples are used where the two making a covenant would do something extraordinary to make it solemn and binding, i.e., cutting up an animal and walking between it; showing how witnesses were incorporated; or the construct of memorials (wedding pictures, copies of vows are a couple sited as useful today).

4. The claim will be made that the marriage covenant is based upon the covenant that Christ made with us. (This wrong perception of the marriage covenant causes them to view the covenant of Christ erringly, seen through other wrong doctrinal claims and Scriptural interpretations. A number of my other articles reveal this fact).

5. All kinds of sensational, fantastical, and hyperbolic rhetoric will be used to describe this covenant, i.e., it’s an unbreakable, unconditional, and everlasting covenant, like the covenant between God and Abraham (even though marriage does not go beyond this world); it holds together the work of God in this world; it is compared to God’s covenant with Noah and the rainbow; the seriousness of the covenant between Jacob and Laban, where God was called as a witness to it (even though Jacob wasn’t marrying Laban, and Laban not only broke the covenant, but also deceived with a substitute).

6. The love spoken about in 1Corinthians 13 (a dispositional love that is to be exercised in all situations of life, yet however, is contorted and finagled to personify it as support for the marriage covenant doctrine).

7. Their poster Scripture, Malachi 2:14. (The reason the Lord mentions “wife of thy covenant” is because it was the process used to acquire a wife. For a man to covenant for a wife with her guardian was because he thought her to be very special and desirable. The Lord is declaring in this statement, “what happened to that dispositional desire you once had for her?” It’s similar to Christ rebuking the church in Ephesus for “leaving their first love” (Revelation 2:4). Along with the expression of the covenant was the fact that she was his “companion.” This referenced the bond of their oneness of being one flesh through their sexual union).

So many untrue lofty statements or actions, as well as inapplicable examples and illustrations are used to try and convince the reader that such a covenant for marriage is essential and Biblically ordained. And all basically derived from the Old Testament. Are there no direct valid references to this covenant of marriage in the New Testament, which they can use for support? Do you suppose the reason for this is because this covenant doesn’t exist? Yet, there are supportive references in both Testaments for Biblical marriage, as I teach.

Yes, covenants were made in the Old Testament for numerous reasons and by all sorts of procedures. However, to present them as they do within the context of marriage is disingenuous and deceptive.

Why…? It gives allusion to a woman’s participation in this binding action, while no such participation existed. All one has to do is go to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is highly regarded, and see how it affirms my thesis. It states, concerning marriage transactions,“the woman, however, had no part in this transaction as an independent individual under the law.” Most of those who teach this marital covenant have a degree from popular and notable theological seminaries. Are they not aware of this easily accessible fact?

Not only this, but if these false covenant promoters were as knowledgeable as they portend on the subject, they would understand that covenants in the O.T. only pertained to virgin daughters exclusively. Never was a covenant made for a divorced woman or a widow, whether from the death of her husband naturally or stoning due to an act of fornication or some other violation of the law.

Those who claim this doctrine may be well intentioned, and I don’t doubt that. However, to deliberately misapply or rewrite Scripture, or sensationalize with the wrong implications for their defense is not an honest way to be well intentioned. In presenting their defense as they do reveals desperation, because of their inability to truly define Biblical marriage. They attempt to pull from anywhere they feel they can and declare what ever they want, whether relevant or not. What’s sad is that no one calls them to task for doing so.

Well, I have news for them. They will find nothing in the original text of the Bible to support their marriage covenant doctrine and all their trimmings to go with it. It’s just not there and does not exist. Their covenant concept of marriage is a figment of their imagination. Yes, God considers marriage sacred, but not because two people recite any or certain chosen vows with witnesses (see “BIBLICAL MARRIAGE: A Sacred Law).

One last thing! If you come across one that presents covenants regarding “Satanic Sex,” run as far from it as you can. It is the epitome of unbiblical nonsense.

Attention: Recommended initial article reading order for a Biblical marriage foundation:

The Honor of Biblical Marriage

Fornication: Sinning Against Your Body – Part 1&2

BIBLICAL MARRIAGE? Dear Lord I Messed Up!

Premarital Cohabitation: A Christian Mythology

Biblical Marriage and the Erroneous Marriage Covenant

Putting Biblical Marriage Asunder

BIBLICAL MARRIAGE: A Sacred Law

Divorce: It’s All About Being Married

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