Recovering the notion of marriage as covenant

I hope I never, ever develop the kind of dismissive attitude many Catholics have to the Protestant world.   God blessed me greatly through my sojourn among evangelical and charismatic Christians and when, from time to time, I find myself among them again, I can sense the Holy Spirit among them.

God promised us that if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we hunger and thirst after righteousness we will be filled and so on.  It is amazing what the Holy Spirit can to with a man or woman who pores over the Bible prayerfully, striving to have an obedient heart.

Gee, the insights can be downright catholic!  Yes, perhaps there is a continual re-inventing of the wheel, but perhaps sometimes the wheels we have in the Catholic Church get taken for granted and the insights of the discovery of that same wheel by someone outside full communion with the Church can make us appreciate what we already have.

Case in point, the Covenant Marriage Conference I covered featuring evangelist Craig Hill.

Here’s an excerpt of the story I filed:

The Catholic Church is one of the few remaining denominations that teaches marriage as a covenant, says evangelist Craig Hill. He spoke at the Covenant Marriage Conference at Saint Paul University, June 9, urging participants to renew their understanding of the unbreakable nature of the marriage bond.

He said North America today has a divorce and remarriage culture that has been a disaster for children. He said children of intact families are less likely to drop out of school, engage in premarital sex, or use illegal drugs.

Hill added that 50-60 years ago almost all of society in North America believed marriage was a covenant.  But, now even churches are giving in to the divorce culture, he said, because of the sheer volume of people who have already broken their vows.

The Denver, Colorado based best-selling author and founder of Family Foundations International, explained a covenant is promise-oriented, based on trust, and has three characteristics: it is unconditional; unilateral in that one party can establish a covenant with another; and irrevocable –it cannot be broken.

A marriage covenant is not based on performance, or on “I’ll please you if you please me, and we can keep doing this as long as it works,” Hill said.

He said a marriage contract, however, is performance-oriented and based on distrust. Hill said the contract is conditional on the basis that both parties meet the contract terms; bilateral in that both must agree and revocable—it can be broken.

“It is indisputable that marriage is a covenant,” Hill told the bi-lingual, multi-racial gathering of more than 50 couples from evangelical, charismatic, and Catholic churches.  “Jesus said it is terminated by death, not by adultery, or abandonment.”

Hill compared the values of a society to a protective wall.  The value of covenant marriage has been torn down, he said, leading to divorce, fatherlessness, and the host of other problems that stem from family breakdown.

You can read the rest here.

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