Covenant Companionship and Love
What is marriage? With all the philandering and living together that goes on today, this is an important question. Can you defend the Biblical propriety of marriage? Can you define marriage biblically? The bible upbraids both men and women when they forget the essence of marriage and desecrate this beautiful institution. Malachi 2:14 speaks from the prospective of a man and reminds the unfaithful husband of the special relationship he has with his wife. “She is your companion and your wife by covenant.” Proverbs 2:17 says the adulterous woman “leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.”
In both texts, we see marriage is a covenant. It is an agreement into which a man and a woman enter by taking vows before God and exchanging vows with each other. In the traditional wedding service, in the first set of vows, both man and women state their desire to live in marriage with love and honor for the other. After assenting to these vows to God, the bride and groom turn to each other and promise to take each other as husband and wife in all circumstances arising in God’s providence as long as both of them shall live. Marriage is a covenant.
According to our texts, marriage is also a covenant of companionship. Husband and wife promise to be life long companions and to reserve sexual intimacy only for each other. This companionship is profound fellowship into which husbands and wives enter at the hand of God. It is a sacred union. For example, the Old Testament uses the word companion to indicate the coupling together of the curtains in the tabernacle, a sacred place (Exodus 26:3), the joining together at the shoulder of the golden ephod, a sacred garment, worn by Aaron (Exodus 28:7), and the touching or joining of the wings of angels, sacred beings, in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:9). In marriage, God joins a man and a woman in a covenant relationship for sacred purposes. This is why Jesus say, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
What is the sacred intent God has in mind when He joins men and women in this covenant of companionship? God’s purpose in marriage is to produce a vast witness in the world to the love that exists between Christ and the church. Paul tells us this in Ephesians 5: 31-32, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Marriage, says Paul, is a profound mystery. God designed marriage to reflect the covenant love existing between Christ and the church. Every married person needs to realize this is the case.
Marriage is a covenant based upon promises and vows. Marriage is a covenant in which companionship is first and foremost. Marriage is a covenant of companionship in which a wife and husband have the grand privilege of reflecting the love of God to their children and to a watching world. This is the great challenge for every married couple and would be married or engaged couple. The world desperately needs this witness to God’s covenant love. Sadly, even among professing Christians, this picture of God’s covenant love is either missing or heavily tarnished. Divorce is rampant. Companionship is slight. Covenant promises are taken lightly. Let’s polish up our marriages and planned marriages. Let’s live in love in our marriages before a watching world. Remember, your marriage and my marriage, this covenant of companionship, is a primary witness in the world to God’s covenant love.