Traditional marriage vows, which are used or slightly modified by a high percentage of couples getting married, go something like this, “I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death us do part.”
Traditionally the man speaks his vows first and then the woman. Notice that there are no if’s, and’s, or but’s, and no escape clauses. Notice the man makes his promises before the woman makes any promises, and her promises are not conditional upon him filling his promises. Also notice that the length of time for the vow is “until death do us part.”
Now compare this to common language used in Loan Agreements for cars, equipment, mortgages for houses, etc.
I happened to pull out my Loan Agreement from John Deere Financial for my tractor. It reads in part, “You agree to pay us the amount financed, together with finance charges from the date finance charges begins at the annual percentage rate, by remitting each of the installment payments on or before the due dates indicated.” Then in CAPS it states “YOUR PAYMENT OBLIGATIONS ARE ABSOLUTE AND UNCONDITIONAL, AND ARE NOT SUBJECT TO CANCELLATION, REDUCTION, OR SETOFF FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER”.
In other words, it does not matter if I don’t like the tractor, if I bought the tractor too big or too small, or even if John Deere sold me a lemon tractor, or if I have a bad crop or if crop prices are low, I have promised John Deere Financial that I will pay them. Period.
Then later in the contract they have a whole section about default, i.e. if I don’t pay them, and then even more sections about remedies for them if I did not pay, which include them taking the tractor back, selling it, and charging me for any loss they take, and attorneys fees, etc. etc. These kinds of clauses are in almost every loan or mortgage you sign.
I think many couples go into the marriage with the intention of it being a very serious life long comitment with no outs, but then when things get tough, they start looking for the escape clauses like they are used to in every loan. However, if you really look at the promises that they said to each other, there are no escape clauses. Those are the promises that they said to each other in front of God, family and friends.
Getting a marriage license from the state allows you to get legally married, but the actual act of getting married is the promises you make to each other in front of someone sanctioned by the state to sanction those promises you make to each other.
In my mind, if you are a Christian, when you are facing a divorce there are three key things to think about in deciding what to do. They are, “What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce?” “What promises did I make?” and “What are the rules of my state?”.
I have blogged about the Bible’s view on marriage and divorce and the laws on marriage and divorce at other times, so today I just wanted to focus on the promises that couples typically make.
One thing we know from scripture is that God takes promises very seriously. Proverbs 20:25 (Amplified Bible) says, “It is a snare to a man to utter a vow [of consecration] rashly and [not until] afterward inquire [whether he can fulfill it]”.
What do you think about the permanence of the marriage vows?