Covenant Marriage

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Long before a young man stands at the wedding altar, he’s often thinking of that day when he’s in love, ready to marry the woman of his dreams. One doesn’t just suddenly arrive there. It takes time. Long before you were of marriageable age, back when you were entering your adolescent years, there were things going on in you that you weren’t even fully aware of. Puberty sends a boy into a stinky swamp for a season. I recall our son’s 7th-grade English teacher describing how boys that age go into this fog-like trance only to come out of it around 8th grade. Hormone changes to the brain and body open up a new world of emotions, brawn, and interests. All normal and natural. God uses all to help a young boy move towards young adulthood and hopefully marriage.

Lust is Not Love

At a wedding I officiated, I mentioned in my message that lust is not love. Lust consumes and devours. It scours and abuses. And, no woman in her right mind, that I know wants to be lusted after. Nourished? Yes. Cherished? Absolutely. A man who can grasp this kind of love is further down the path toward marriage than the one who is living by his raging hormones. All too often, unfortunately, guys who say they love Jesus find themselves in bed with a woman they aren’t married to. What God intended for the marriage bed is unpackaged early and without the covenant that God intended.

Unzipped Before It’s Time

In a previous Mentoring Warriors article we talk about the difference between lust and healthy sexual desire. What we want to focus on here is the aspect of entering into a covenant marriage that becomes the foundation for a good and healthy Christ-centered marriage. A marriage where the freedom and intimacy of sex were meant to flourish.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, we find a core teaching on marriage. In fact, the author, Paul, is explaining how Christ is the bridegroom and we, his believers are his bride. Jesus gave himself up for us. Here are some key phrases from that passage that speaks of the covenant God calls a man and woman to, in holy matrimony.

Gave himself up for her- all too often young men equate lust with love. Rather, God says true love gives for the betterment of the other person, even if the love is not reciprocated.

Washing her with the water of the Word- the Word of God is what washes our souls clean. A marriage without the Word of God quickly goes dry and flat.

Presenting her in all splendor and beauty- Every look, every thought Jesus has for us who are in Christ is full of splendor and beauty.

Holy and without blemish- One of the reasons, a bride is in a beautiful dress is to present herself as one without blemish, spotless and holy. 

The two that I especially like are nourish and cherish. When a man loves out of his walk with Jesus, his wife will feel nourished and cherished.  She will blossom into the woman God created her to be. Uniquely so!


Proverbs 5 talks about a man having eyes for only one woman; his wife. No one else. The same holds true for the woman. She has eyes only for him.  That’s easy to do on the wedding day, and on the honeymoon. When life gets full of domestic distractions it’s easy to lose sight of not only the Lord but of each other. In a covenant marriage, you not only have eyes, and hearts for each other, but you have a deepening desire to see Christ lived out in your marriage. 

I like to say it this way. In light of Galatians 2:20, which speaks of Christ living his life through you, as Christ lives through you, you will not want to break the covenant, no matter how difficult life may get together. Jesus does not break his covenant with us, in redemption, and Him living in you will not want to break your covenant in marriage either.

Covenant Marriage in the Making!

Honeymoon Bliss

Sure, honeymoons are meant for exclusive focus on each other, an invitation to become naked and unashamed. To explore and express sexual intimacy. To grow in all aspects of oneness. It’s the heart of God that a married couple loses their virginity on their honeymoon, or shortly thereafter. If that doesn’t happen, such a lack of sexual union can make the marriage covenant seem less secure. It can open the door for temptations that God didn’t intend for a Christ-centered marriage. 

Bliss turns into Faithfulness

Part of the covenant marriage means exclusivity in the bedroom. By that, I mean you should be the only person on the planet to see and experience your spouse coming to a sexual climax. In fact, your spouse should be the one to share your most vulnerable emotions and thoughts. You should feel safe in each other’s arms. No one should know you better than your spouse. This is exactly how Jesus lives out his covenant with us. He gives us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of his presence; to never leave or forsake us.  So it should be in your covenant faithfulness to your wife.

There has to be a Shift

Somewhere along your manhood journey, you need to shift from a self-focused, lust-driven version of sexual attraction to one of Christ-centered, selfless, enduring love. That shift usually comes as you figure out increasingly what it means for Christ to live his life through you.

I was about 21 when God hit me over the head to find a wife. By the time I was 25, I thought I found her. In many respects, I was ready. Ready to make that shift from the self-focused me, to one where God was my adventure. But, although I was further on the path toward marriage, she wasn’t in the same spot.  Needless to say, I was confused. So, I trusted and waited. For 20 months I had no contact with her. One day, the Lord prompted me to write her. What I soon found out was that while I waited for what seemed like an eternity, God was doing amazing things in her that brought her to a place where she was ready to make those covenant vows. It didn’t take long and we were soon standing at the altar in Canada becoming husband and wife. That was 33 years ago. Our covenant has faced many ups and downs, health and financial challenges, as well as raising two wonderful children, and soon to experience the blessings of grandparenthood!  

Newlyweds-Mr. and Mrs. Ryan and Londyn Crandall

Living in a covenant marriage brings the Lord’s blessings you would never otherwise experience.

Warrior On!

All photos courtesy of

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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