One of the main aspects of understanding covenant is giving. Many marriage books today include ways of negotiating with your spouse so each can get what they want, rather than the idea of loving and giving to each other. One fear is: “If I give to them unconditionally, they will take advantage of me and I will become a doormat that they run over.” There is no way that I can address all the Christian cultural ideas that have been accepted throughout the years. Dr. Skip Moen wrote a book I highly recommend titled “Guardian Angel,” which addresses some of the cultural strongholds and what the original purpose for the helpmate (ezer in Hebrew). A few of his thoughts are also paraphrased below.
Even in Genesis man is suppose to rule, but this rule is to be compassionate, never exploiting the relationship. It includes stewardship, care, nurturing and protection. It is similar to a shepherd. Ruling is not suppose to be domination by force or the law. In Genesis 2:24 man is told to detach from precious protectors and providers and to cling (dagaq in Hebrew) to their spouse. It means a close affection and loyalty. An example is how Israel clings to God. Obviously this assumes first that the husband has an intimate relationship with the Lord and easily transfers that same closeness to his “Ezer.”
Sometimes a fear of giving the wife too much power can cause Christian husbands to begin to quote scriptures to make sure they don’t lose their authority. “I’m the head of the household and I will make all final decisions!” In covenant relationships there is a mutual submission that takes place; a giving to one another. It becomes defacto authority which develops from a decision to place myself under the direction of another, because I recognize the right of the other to be my lord, and it is in my best self interest to submit to that authority.
Dejure authority is based on the law. For instance, a policeman has the authority to give us a ticket if we are speeding and the authority comes from the municipal law. However, if the husband has any authority at all, it is based on defacto, and the wife recognizes or grants him authority, and it is in her best interest to submit. Jesus’ entire ministry is based on defacto authority. He doesn’t command us to repent or we go to prison. He invites us to recognize His right to rule, to submit to Him because it is our duty and in our best interest to submit to His authority in the covenant relationship. We volunteer to grant Him authority over our life.
When you love your spouse, you are free to love. No one is forcing you to love them. It’s voluntary. But it does not mean we have no obligations. Imagine no expectations, no commitment and no mutual covenant. Would you call that love? What if your children ignored your requests or directions? It’s the same with God. If we love Him we keep His Torah; not because we have to, but because of love and we desire to please Him. God is delighted when we love Him by obeying and submit to Him.
Ephesians 5:24-25 is a good example of covenant giving. “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Since God uses the marriage covenant as an earthly example of His covenant with His people, let’s remember that it is our obligation to give our love to our spouse as we give that same love to the Father. It is our joy and privilege to be able to lay our life down and please our Father, and do the same with our spouse in the marriage covenant!
In His Covenant Love,