Marriage, in this view, has two components: contractual and covenantal. The Court has the legal right to do what they please with the contractual part of marriage, as contracts are strictly legal instruments. However, they have no say over the covenantal, or sacramental, aspect of marriage, as this part is subsumed in spiritual considerations. While a contract is an exchange of goods and services, a covenant is a union of persons.
The sacrament of matrimony is more than just two people who love each other agreeing on terms and conditions under which they will share a life. It is more than being able to file a joint tax return or reap legal benefits granted by the government. These are the contractual aspects of marriage that should be the Court’s purview. But the covenantal, spiritual dimension of matrimony transcends and supersedes the contractual and is beyond the scope of the Court’s authority.
Covenants, then, result in procreative, self-perpetuating unions. Contracts specify terms, conditions, limits, and duration of agreement. In contracts, the parties remain separate. In covenants, the parties become one. Further, now that the courts have officially taken marriage out of the context of a covenant and made it purely a contract between consenting adults, what is to keep them from allowing multiple marriage partners? After all, contracts often involve more than two parties. This and a variety of other marital contractual arrangements become permissible by denying or ignoring the covenantal aspect of matrimony.
A difficulty, perhaps by now insuperable, is that many of the folks who are so upset about this decision, claiming that it isn’t the way God intended or it isn’t “natural,” have become part of the problem without realizing it. Marriage was actually taken out of its covenantal context long ago. The 1970’s saw the legalization of “no fault” divorce as well as abortion. And the door to all of this was opened in the first part of the 20th century with the legalization of artificial contraceptives. With the extensive use of contraceptives, most married couples have negated the third person of the family and reduced the marital act to a pleasurable, strictly physical experience. Husbands and wives are simply using each other for pleasure. How is that different from that which a same sex couple can accomplish? The thing that sets the covenant of marriage apart is life-giving love. If the possibility of life is taken out of the marriage by way of contraception, then it is no different than any other act between two people who "love" each other, thereby reducing the marriage to a contract. The irony is striking. While proponents of contraception, “no fault” divorce, and abortion claim to work for happy, healthy families, what they have accomplished is a diminution of the importance of the covenantal, procreative, life-giving aspect of the institution, thus degrading it. Many of these people are the loudest voices protesting the statutory recognition of same-sex marriages.
If we truly want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then we need to reclaim the covenant of marriage. If we want to reclaim the covenant of marriage, we had better take a hard look at how we can protect the sanctity of life. When it comes to life and marriage, God has brought them together, let no man put them asunder. So really, we shouldn’t be surprised by the court’s decision-- our society has been working to destroy the underpinnings of marriage for years.