Contracts and Covenants

“In a covenant, two or more individuals, each respecting the dignity and integrity of the other, come together in a bond of love and trust, to share their interests, sometimes even to share their lives, by pledging their faithfulness to one another, to do together what neither can achieve alone. A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. Or to put it slightly differently: a contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. It is about you and me coming together to form an ‘Us’. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform. To be sure, a marriage may have the external form of a contract, but its inner logic is that of covenant. That is how Israel in the biblical era understood its relationship with God, as a covenant. The Hebrew word emunah, often translated simply as ‘faith’, really means faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, steadfastness, not walking away even when the going gets tough, trusting the other and honouring the other’s trust in us. The Prophets understood the relationship between humanity and God in terms of the relationship between bride and groom, wife and husband. Love thus became the basis not only of morality but also of theology. Faith is like marriage.”

Morality, Chapter 4, p. 63