Thursday, 09 June 2011 06:32

Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

Written by  Rev. Francis Turner
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With a royal wedding behind us and the most traditional wedding month now upon us, let’s take a look at marriage.

 


In talking with pre-marriage couples about marriage as a Christian covenant, I pop the question: “Have you considered a pre-nuptial agreement?” After some awkward moments, I explain myself. I suggest that a couple consider and agree together about the nature of the marriage covenant itself. This reflection and conversation is most helpful beforehand (pre-nuptial) but is also helpful in maintaining and jumpstarting existing marriages.

Rather than many words in legal language, this kind of pre-nup centers around three words – God’s Word, your word, and the last word. First, what does God’s Word say that marriage is? Most important is our basic realization that marriage exists independently of the couple involved. A spiritual pre-nup acknowledges that God has already defined the marriage covenant, protecting the couple from subjective, vague, emotion-based assumptions which may bring problematic expectations and manipulation.

God’s Word describes the Christian faith in such objective terms as “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It’s the nature of covenant in the Bible – God offers us a relational dynamic with Himself that he has defined beforehand and into which we may enter, on God’s terms. The concept applies to the covenant of marriage as well.

Here is a three-part working definition of the marriage covenant. Christian marriage is a deep friendship based on sacred regard for one another. Sacred regard for the other is the foundation of the concept of righteousness in the Bible. There is no one closer. You are soul mates. Another piece of this definition is that marriage is a practical partnership – getting things done every day through teamwork, ranging from a division-of-labor to a side-by-side approach. You prayerfully and humbly figure out the details in a faithful way that fits the two of you.

Finally, sex. Here is marriage’s only uniqueness. While we may have deep friendships and practical partnerships outside of marriage, it is only within it that sex is legitimately practiced. Indeed, it is essential to this covenant of one flesh. How often should you make love? How can it be deeply meaningful for both? Again, couples must dialogue and decide in faithful and fair ways (sacred regard). Many find objective, even routine scheduling of sex to be helpful.

Marriage begins with God’s Word, but what about your word? What exactly are you vowing when you marry or reaffirm marriage vows? Your vows should be directly related to your “pre-nuptial agreement” about what Christian marriage objectively is. This could mean writing your own specific vows, though that could quickly become “too much information” for those attending the wedding! Most traditional vows are fine and inspiring, but you need to know what you two have decided they really mean. The vows become a kind of code for the pre-nuptial agreement you have hammered out on the anvil of God’s basic covenant.

Finally, what will the last word be for your marriage? There are two options. It will be “We tenderly commit his/her body to the ground in sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life”. Or, as you leave a divorce proceeding, that last word will be “Court adjourned”. In the midst of beautiful June weddings, the wisdom and courage to forge godly “pre-nuptial agreements” will empower your last word to be the former option – making your marriage royal indeed.

Rev. Francis Turner is the pastor of Whitfield United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Learn more about the church at www.whitfieldumc.org. Rev. Turner may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

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