Understanding Covenants

Yesterday’s events have pushed to the front of my mind thoughts on covenants; perhaps an introspection on my part of the covenants I have made and my own standing within their bounds.

I have pondered the effect of sin on eternal covenants. In particular, I have pondered the effects of sin on the marriage covenant. Unlike other covenants, where the promises are made between you and God only, the marriage covenant includes a promise to another person as well, and your own behavior within the bonds of that particular covenant does have an impact on the relationship as a whole.

I am reminded that the covenants we make often include words that allow for our own imperfections. Words such as seek, receive, and sacrifice are action words that imply that we are not only partakers of the covenant, but that we are primarily responsible for, as a friend would say, binding the Lord by our obedience. Only after we complete the obligations of the covenant can we be full partakers of the promised blessings.

In the baptismal covenant, we are not given the Holy Ghost, but we are commanded to receive it. In the marriage covenant, we are promised that the sealing power will take effect in our marriages, but we are not immediately granted that power. These two covenants in particular take into account that we are imperfect beings making promises to a perfect God who, by the Atonement of His Son, has the means to make us like Him. The very nature of the covenant as a promise rather than a gift grants us the opportunity to use our own agency and take full advantage of the Atonement in ways that will have long-term benefit in our lives.

Covenants made with our Heavenly Father are uniquely designed to account for the effect of sin. For example, partaking of the Sacrament each week allows us to not only suffer the consequences of sin and repent, but also to renew the saving ordinance of our baptism and qualify us once more for the continued presence of the Holy Ghost. The union of these three covenants (baptism, confirmation, and the sacrament) allows imperfect beings the opportunity to become perfect.

We enter all covenants aware that our humanity makes fulfilling the covenant fully impossible without outside assistance. We are aware that our sins will disqualify us from ever accomplishing the full measure of the covenants without the help of another. And yet we make those covenants with at least the faint hope that Jesus Christ can bridge that gap.

As we carefully and consistently work out our salvation using the Atonement of Christ, we will find that His life does bridge the gap between what we have done and what we covenanted to do. I take particular comfort in knowing that my own weaknesses and frailties, my own failings in my covenants do not leave me disqualified as long as I have done all I can and turned the rest over to the Savior.

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One Response to Understanding Covenants

  1. nosurfgirl says:

    It’s true. There’s a lot in this subject that I feel, some feelings not quite resolved. But it’s both comforting and also sad to know that covenants only live up to how we fulfill our part of the deal. I know many women and children who have broken hearts and homes because of what a husband has done. And vice versa… when a mother leaves a family or follows a path that leaves her unfit.

    Sometimes I think we don’t really understand the eternal significance of these things… not really. Otherwise there’d be nobody with pornography or any other addictions or vices that would keep them from the glory that will be, if we live up to those covenants.

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