Marriage is a Covenant, Not A Contract (and sex doesn’t change that)
By, D.S. Coleman
Advising someone to wait until marriage for sex is not popular. I get it. This is a new day. Christian singles have needs and waiting is not one of them. The old school theology that says shacking up is immoral and fornication is a cardinal sin, simply doesn’t appeal to this generation. The idea of church mothers preaching purity and selling celibacy simply is not en vogue. These ideas are viewed as archaic and unnecessary. “Enlightened” thinking says do what you feel because God understands. “Progressive” ideology says do what makes you happy, because life is short and pleasure is paramount. So, it’s not surprising that even the most revered of Christians embrace sex before marriage as a necessary evil. This Christian compromise creates a conundrum – Bible vs. being booed up…… saving it until next time vs. saving it until “I do”.
People point to Kimye’s relationship, baby, and engagement (in that order) and question why they should be forced to adhere to circa-1960 values that advise of marriage first and then children. Kim and Kanye made it, so why wait? Values that advise of sexual purity (i.e. no sex before marriage) don’t resonate with some people. In today’s society, sex and the resulting offspring are just a fact of life. And many times I’ve felt that there was no value in trying to convince folks of anything different. I appealed to the value of pursuing the divine order of relationship, engagement, happily ever after, and baby (in that order). I referenced scriptures like 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “abstain from fornication” to illustrate God’s vision for sex and relationships, but consistently, it fell on deaf ears. So, I stopped talking about it (for a while) until recently, when I was watching Preachers of LA for the first time.
While watching the show, I was inspired to write. And not inspired in a “I feel so good about what I just saw and I want to write something” kind of way. But more like, “I cannot believe what I just saw and I have to address it at this moment” kind of inspiration. I felt prompted to write because of blatant misinformation that was portrayed. Here’s how it all went down:
A well-meaning church leader asked a question of gospel superstar Deitrick Haddon’s then-fiancée (Dominique). It was a very pointed question that inquired if their relationship involved sex. The non-response quickly revealed that answer was likely yes. So, the church leader challenged Deitrick’s fiancée to re-consider sex before marriage, calling it fornication. However, Dominique rebuffed, stating that she believed she was married (in her heart) because they had already been intimate. As evidence, she offered that the consummation of marriage was marked by sexual intercourse. She felt that because she and Deitrick had already been intimate (relationship, baby, engagement – in that order) that that their sexual act bound them in holy matrimony. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their sex act created soul ties, yes, but not a covenant marriage before God.
Author and Biblical scholar Mary Fairchild talks about marriage in God’s eyes. She says, “In Malachi 2:14 we see that marriage is a holy covenant before God. In the Jewish custom, God’s people signed a written agreement at the time of the marriage to seal the covenant. The marriage ceremony, therefore, is meant to be a public demonstration of a couple’s commitment to a covenant relationship.” Thus, without the covenant that is established between the couple and God through the exchanging of vows, there is no marriage. Furthermore, the ceremony is an outward proclamation that you are entering into the institution of marriage. The papers you sign as a contract unite you by law, but the covenant first began with God. So, sex alone can produce neither a covenant nor a contract. And though it’s a new day, sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. We could learn a thing or two from those church mothers’ teachings on purity.
D.S. Coleman is the Author of Why Dating Sucks & How Courtship is Better, a step-by-step guide to love and relationships from a Biblical perspective. She is the founder of Courtship Challenge, a movement that focused on inviting God in your love life. Find her on twitter: @courtship101.