Editorial: Marriage, Covenant or Contract? -- By: Timothy Paul Jones

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 02:1 (Fall 2011)
Article: Editorial: Marriage, Covenant or Contract?
Author: Timothy Paul Jones

Marriage, Covenant or Contract?

Timothy Paul Jones

Timothy Paul Jones (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Discipleship and Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he coordinates family ministry programs and edits The Journal of Family Ministry. Previously, he served sixteen years as a pastor, youth minister, and children’s minister. A recipient of the Baker Book House Award for Theological Studies, the NAPCE Scholastic Recognition Award, and the 2010 Retailers’ Choice Award for his book Christian History Made Easy, Timothy has authored or contributed to twenty books. Timothy lives in St. Matthews with his wife Rayann and daughters Hannah and Skylar. He enjoys hiking, playing games with his family, and drinking French-pressed coffee. The Jones family is involved in children’s ministry at the east campus of Sojourn Community Church.

A few weeks ago, a prominent religious television host declared that a man might be justified in divorcing his Alzheimer’s-afflicted spouse as long as the man enlisted someone to look “after her” and to provide “custodial care.” The television host defended his declaration by defining such diseases as “a walking death” wherein the diseased person is already “gone.” Appealing to the husband’s need for “some kind of companionship,” the host declared that forbidding such a divorce was “the last thing” he would do.1

I was not exactly in unbiased circumstances when I first heard this news. I was sitting beside a dying man in my parents’ living room. The dying man was my father.

Less than a month earlier, the physician’s assistant had clicked through a half-dozen scans of my father’s cranial cavity. An undetected tumor in his left lung had sown four, perhaps five, cancerous lesions in his skull. Viewed from that inadequate perspective in which the body is a machine to be repaired if possible and discarded if necessary, no hope remained. Seen from the standpoint of the resurrection, these results signaled that a time was approaching when the “last enemy to be defeated” would rend my father’s spirit from his flesh (1 Cor 15:26) until that future moment when the risen Christ returns for his own.

At that point, my mother made a decision. Not yet knowing if her husband’s body would persist many months or a few weeks, or what pain might mark his final hours, she chose that she would care for him to the end. If necessary, she would do this alone. She chose to walk this path without question or hesitation. From her perspective, nothing less could uphold the vows that s...

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