The Video of Robertson McQuilkin

Near the end of my message this past Sunday, I showed a short 2 minute video of home photographs coupled with excerpts from Robertson McQuilkin’s resignation speech from Columbia International University where he served as president from 1968-1990. McQuilkin’s wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimers in the mid 80s and by 1990 needed her husband’s constant care. In his remarks he explained that his vows before God, his thankfulness for all the ways she’d served him, and his great love for his wife made the decision to step down from his influential office relatively easy.

I’ve had several people ask where to find the clip so I thought that I might include it here.

McQuilkin’s View of Marriage: Sacrament, Contract, or Covenant?
In his book God, Marriage, and Family, Andreas Kostenberg lays out three different views of marriage. The sacramental view of marriage is built on law of the Catholic church which teaches that grace is dispensed at the marriage altar.

A more widely accepted view is the contractual view of marriage. This is how most people in our world see marriage today including many church going people. And it is important to say that those who hold this perspective truly value marriage.

This marriage contract is agreed upon by 2 individuals who hope to be in partnership for a long time. Like other contracts both parties really hope that everything works out.

Whereas the sacramental view of marriage is built on church law, the contractual model is built on civil law. In other words it is the state that defines marriage, sanctions it, and a judge will help you end it if that becomes necessary. It’s the state that grants marriage licenses and certificates of divorce.

The problem with thinking of your marriage as a contractual relationship is that contracts are conditions based. I’ll do this and you will do that. But if you don’t do your part, then I won’t do mine either.

Now here is the problem. No marriage is going to work over the long haul if it is based on our performance. As long as you keep your physical beauty, as long as you keep buying me things, as long as I still have fun with you, as long as our life turns out the way I want, as long as you make me happy, then we’ll stay married.

Ultimately if you think of your marriage like a contract, then you are basing the security and stability of your marriage on the ability of you and your spouse not to sin. Good luck with that. Let me know how that turns out.

Now the point isn’t that if a person gets married by a judge they aren’t really married. Of course they are. My point is that their view of marriage falls short of what the Bible teaches and it is built on a foundation that is sure to fail.

Contrast that with the covenantal view of marriage which is based not on church law or civil law but divine law. In this view the marriage isn’t just agreed on by two individuals but instead explicitly recognizes that marriage was created by God and entered into in his presence. Importantly this makes God and his grace the foundation of the marriage rather than our own personal performance.

If Robertson and Muriel McQuilkin had viewed his marriage to Muriel as a contract, there would have been no reason for him to continue in it once her illness progressed beyond a certain point. After all circumstances had changed. She wasn’t the person that he married. This isn’t how he expected his life to turn out.

McQuilkin tells how one well-intentioned colleague asked him why he would resign and retreat from a flourishing ministry to care for a wife who didn’t even remember his name. McQuilkin replied by saying that what was important is that he remembered her name and he remembered the promise that he made to her before God. That’s a perfect picture of God’s covenantal love.

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