Working out the Terms But what does a covenant friendship look like in our day? For marrieds, the terms are clear. At social events, everyone knows you’re supposed to invite the husband as well as the wife and at family occasions, there’s no question as to whether the spouse is coming along too. When one is sick, the other looks after them; on holidays, it’s the spouse who minds the suitcases. Finances are split, expenses are shared and life insurance is taken out for the other. The rules of society are established and we all know what they are.For covenant friendship, the rules are less clearcut. For Anita and I, we’re still working them out.
At this point, our commitment means that we make sure the other’s birthday is celebrated properly and they have somewhere to go on Christmas Day. One of us can’t just leave the country or get married on a whim without ensuring the other isn’t left hapless without a couch or a kettle. The other is the go-to person in a crisis, the name we put on the customs card as the first port of call and the one who helps us out when we’re short of cash. They are our biggest cheerleader, our coach and our confidante; the one who knows where we are on the planet when no-one else does. They are the key to our flourishing in our God-given destiny and the reason neither of us are lonely.That doesn’t mean it’s easy. The surprise has been that when we listen to those marriage sermons now, we find ourselves nodding in agreement.
All the principles of healthy communication, conflict resolution and mutual submission have become just as relevant for us as any wedded couple. The investment required by covenant relationship is not only the domain of the marrieds. But so are the rewards.A Healthy Alternative. As a church, we haven’t always known how to minister to singles. Our focus has been on the relationships in marriage and family with the result that singles often feel neglected, leaving marrieds overrepresented in the church pews. But there is a way of upholding the ideal while still modelling a healthy alternative. Covenant friendship may not fit society’s normal boundaries and definitions, but it has been God’s provision for Anita and I. Yes, both of us would have liked to have seen the Christian ideal in our lives, but in the face of a world that doesn’t always turn out to be perfect, covenant friendship is a pretty wonderful alternative.
By Tania Harris
Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker, author and the founder of GodConversations.com, a global ministry that equips people to recognise and respond to God’s voice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, her ministry is known for its biblical depth, practical wisdom and ‘God-stories.’ She speaks to groups of all ages and denominations and is a popular voice on radio in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Currently Tania is completing her Doctorate in Ministry researching peoples’ experiences hearing God’s voice. Tania is an ordained minister with the Australian Christian Churches. Hillsong is her church home in Sydney, Australia.