The Covenant of Marriage: Its Biblical Roots, Historical Influence, and Modern Uses

INTAMS Review on Marriage and Spirituality 18 (2012): 147-165

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-383

25 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2019

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This Article analyzes the recent covenant marriage movement in America, and its deep roots in biblical teachings. It shows that the Hebrew Prophets, especially Malachi, described the covenant between God and his chosen people of Israel as a model for human marriages, featuring courtship and public celebration of the marriage, mutual love and faithful monogamy, procreation and nurture of children, and limited divorce and an openness to reconciliation. This idea of marriage as a covenant of the whole community is much more prominent in the Bible than the idea of marriage as a sacrament of the church, and it provides a better bridge concept between theology and law, traditional and modern accounts of the institution of marriage. Recent Catholic and Protestant statements alike now use the covenant idea of marriage, which has resonance in Jewish and Islamic contexts as well.

Keywords: Covenant; Covenant Marriage; Covenant in the Bible; Mosaic Law; Old Testament Prophets; Hosea; Ezekiel; Malachi; Monogamy; Procreation; Mutuality; Marital Love; Marital Liturgies; Marital Communication; Divorce; Fidelity; Sacrament of Marriage; Protestantism; Calvinism; Second Vatican Council

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, The Covenant of Marriage: Its Biblical Roots, Historical Influence, and Modern Uses (2012). INTAMS Review on Marriage and Spirituality 18 (2012): 147-165, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-383, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2705616

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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