April 7, 2001
MARRIAGE - AN INSURANCE POLICY
Day, 1998 she and her husband Guy, signed legal papers with 50 other
married couples at First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, La.,
committing themselves to a more binding ''covenant marriage'' in which
they waived their rights to a quick ''no-fault'' divorce, and agreed
that if their marriage ever got in trouble, they would seek counseling
to save it.
And instead of
being able to have a divorce within six months of living separately,
they had to remain apart 18 months. Further, the person wanting out
would have to prove that their spouse had committed adultery, been
physically abusive, habitually intemperate or convicted of a felony.
At the time she
saw covenant marriage as ''an insurance policy,'' a backup plan if
something were to go wrong in their 15 year marriage.
1999, however, Sharon recalls feeling, ''Oh God, what have I done? I
want this to be over, now!'' Their marriage had a high degree of
conflict and both acknowledge they had poor communication skills. She
filed for separation. He moved out, but not far away so that he could
have the kids ten days a month. They both began seeing a counselor, as
required by law.
optimistic. They had tried counseling before. But a new counselor helped
her and Guy to become healthier individuals, to resolve their anger and
heal their pain. Guy says he realized that the issue was ''self-will -
me, my, I and not looking at the other person. We had arguments over
what I wanted, rather than doing what God would want me to do.''
They came to
this realization one week after six months of separation. ''If we had a
conventional marriage, we would have been divorced,'' he told me. They
began dating and he moved back in four months later. Today both are very
''We are resolving conflict quicker and are putting God first in our
family. We are trying hard to follow God's plan. My husband is
working hard at loving me sacrificially as Christ loved the church. I am
working hard to love him sacrificially. We read Scripture together. We
go to a couples Bible study and are doing Bible studies separately. I
meet with ladies, and he with men.''
plan worked. As Guy puts it, ''Covenant marriage protects the
institution of marriage from hasty behavior. It protects people from
themselves. I've talked to people who divorced, but now think it was not
I thought of
their story when I heard that Arkansas passed a Covenant Marriage Law
this past week. It was a top priority of Gov. Mike Huckabee who said in
his State of the State speech,
''While there's little government can do to save marriages, there are
legitimate steps we can take.''
giving couples the freedom to choose a higher level of commitment by
allowing them to enter into covenant marriages. Couples choosing
covenant marriages will take extra steps of preparation for a lifelong
commitment by attending pre-marriage counseling sessions...Additionally,
these couples will agree that if their marriage should ever run into
trouble, they'll seek marriage counseling before divorces will be
My question to
clergy and happily married couples across this nation is this: why
aren't you asking your legislature to pass such a bill?
My state of
Maryland considered covenant marriage. I testified in favor of it, as
did a representative of the Catholic bishops. But where were the
Baptists, Methodists and Jews, the Nazarenes and Assemblies of God?
Nowhere to be seen. The good people who say they believe in the Bible
and ''God's first institution'' were AWOL.
bill's sponsor didn't even vote for his own bill. The Judiciary
Committee, packed with lawyers who make plenty of easy money from
no-fault divorces - happily let it die.
in a score of states which have considered covenant marriage.
scandal about how the law is operating in Louisiana. Only 4 percent of
couples getting married there are signing up for fortified marriages. Do
the other 96 percent want a marriage license written with disappearing
No. A Gallup
Poll revealed that two-thirds did not know a covenant marriage law had
been passed. Why not? Three-quarters got married in churches. Why didn't
the pastors urge couples to request a covenant marriage?
divorce,' says the Lord God of Israel,'' according to Malachi.
Copyright 2001 Michael J.