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Essays on Issues, Ideas and Reflections on the Times. Published now and
then. Opinions pro or con are welcome.

Why Is a Vow Not a Covenant?

North Miami Beach, FL 02-15-2005
A.H. Schectman

Our folklore tells of myriads of deals made with a handshake and the word “done” rather than pieces of paper and formal words spoken during solemn ceremonies.  I am, of course, talking about the old fashioned “vows” of “I do” uttered when two consenting people are “married” officially with a signed certificate and lots of witnesses.  It seems that these old fashioned practices are being “upgraded”.  I am not sure how this will come about for the same two different types of humans are trying to make a bargain that will last a long time.

The breakdown of marriage has become one of the chief chinks in the armor of our civilization. At least half of the marriages performed have another ceremony, a divorce that ends them. Our question must be - why is this so?  This is so because we enter the “agreement” to live together for reasons other than procreation. Companionship is one - for loneliness is hard to deal with.

In the good old days (that go way back before written records) a marriage had a piece of paper signed and witnessed by a host of celebrants that was actually a contract.  This contract was thought up by the ancient Hebrews as a means of protecting the rights of the female half of the team getting hitched. The new thing, thought up by present day antagonists to the idea of female and female/ male and male unions, is that a “covenant” would make things better in terms of longevity.

I always thought of the phrase “As long as you both shall live” as pretty scary. This presupposes that you, meaning a husband and wife or two partners, would both have to expire exactly at the same time to fulfill the bargain made at the start of the union.  The idea of a union between two is the same as a union between partners in a business enterprise.  Neither “union” has had spotless histories. Most dissolve with the death of one or the departure of the other.

The desperate wish of conventional people is that everyone else becomes as conventional as they are. Developing a “Covenant” is no more righteous or permanent than articles of incorporation.  The divorce courts and the courts that oversee suits by one business partner against another attest to the truth of this observation.  A Covenant is another way of “renewing” vows, say every ten years. That seems to be necessary as a Covenant is to others to make a declaration so others will know what you know – that your bargain is still good and is operating much as it should be.  When the bargain sours, there are remedies which do not seem agreeable to conservative minded people who want to prevent some called “Gay” or “Lesbian” from enjoying the benefits of legal acknowledgement that they do.  This is a waste of effort that should be put to use to make the “union” work better. Going for counseling is good – but a third party more often helps that party.



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