MAKES IT A
by Rich Murphy
Marriage is a covenant relationship (see teaching on covenant). As a covenant, there are certain requirements to make it a marriage, and to maintain it as a marriage. When people enter into a covenant, they go through a covenant ceremony to declare and establish the covenant. But, does that make it a covenant? No, it it's what they do afterwards that truly makes it a covenant. The ceremony is only a declaration of their intent, they have to follow through and make that a reality.
In a covenant between two families, it is by their provision for each other that they establish the covenant. Or, in other words, it is by fulfilling the terms of the covenant that they made. It is somewhat the same in a marriage.
When Isaac was old enough to need a wife, Abraham sent his chief servant to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac (Gen 24:1-4). He succeeded in his mission, and brought back Rebekah, Abraham's grand-niece. When he returned back with Rebekah, he was met by Isaac (Gen 24:63-66). In verse 67 it says: " And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife..."
Did you notice the wedding ceremony there? I'm quite sure there wasn't a rabbi waiting in his mother's tent in order to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony. She became his wife because "he took Rebekah." In other words, Isaac took Rebekah to bed. That's what made her his wife.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:16 "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh." This term one flesh is the same one that God used in Genesis 2:24 to define marriage. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." The sexual act therefore is what makes it a marriage, not the marriage ceremony.
We even use the terminology "consummate the marriage" to refer to the act of lovemaking on the wedding night. Do you know what "consummate" means "to make (a marriage) by sexual intercourse." It isn't the wedding ceremony, it's what happens afterwards.
It is almost the same with a covenant ceremony. There are many things that happen during the ceremony, but it is the covenant meal, where they feed each other the bread and wine that truly binds the covenant together.
Does this mean that we should forget about having wedding ceremonies? No! We still need the ceremony. It is through the wedding ceremony that we publicly declare the covenant we are entering into. That is an important part. Others need to know about the covenant, so that they can honor it also. But, we don't want to think that this alone makes it a marriage.
Copyright © 1999 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.