When you think of the word “covenant” you probably think of the New Covenant that Jesus offered us through his death and resurrection, or the Ark of the Covenant which was important to both the ancient Hebrew people and Indiana Jones, or maybe Moses or Abraham pop into your head. A covenant is a binding agreement made between people or groups of people which is serious in nature and which usually (I’m talking Bible here) pledges one’s life as collateral. We call marriage a covenant. But, it’s not just between the two people getting married: it’s between husband, wife, and God.
It’s kind of a comforting thing to know that you’re not alone in it, even when you and your spouse are not on the best of terms. You always have another helper—one who’s love never fails, who never judges, who doesn’t hold a grudge, who is faithful no matter how stupidly we behave, a perfect partner who can remind us who we are called to be in the covenant. Sometimes when it’s hard to “love and honor” the husband or wife who, at the moment, isn’t living up to your standards it can be easier to love and honor God present in your relationship.
Marriage was set up by God to express, on a human level, the Love that exists in the sharing of the Trinity. Creation flowed from the loving, sharing community that is God. In the committed love of marriage, we are invited by God to participate in Creation; to co-create with God, all the while being a living reflection of God’s love for humanity. The sharing that occurs within a marriage flows out to the community through the betterment of the husband and wife, and through the fruit that marriages that are open to God’s gift of children produce—either through natural conception, or the extraordinarily generous, loving act of adoption.
Nothing changes a person (or a couple) more than parenthood—you begin to understand God’s unfailing love in a way that you never could before. As a parent you want to protect, nurture, teach, and love that child with everything you have. You are so naturally invested in that child that you begin to love with a self-sacrificing care that you didn’t know you were capable of. This love offers us a glimpse into how deeply God loves each of God’s children. Parenthood is also the kind of horrifying challenge (at times) that you’re going to want the divine help of a third party.
“What God has joined, men must not divide.” Those words are still present in the marriage ceremony. The two are joined together by their bond with one another and God. God’s like super glue in the bond. As in any Sacrament, in Marriage we are given a vocation, offered strength to live it, and participate in an outward sign of God’s love for the community. When we allow God to be the bond in our marriages, we welcome help. We welcome wholeness. We welcome charity and joy. It’s a good place to start. Pray together and listen to what God is calling your family to. Marriage is a partnership with God—just make sure that you aren’t making God a silent partner.